Breathing

Conscious Breathing

The way and how often you breathe may be the most important habit that you can use to promote a longer healthier life. It is the easiest unconscious or automatic action your body does for survival that you can control. It just requires practice.

I reference the book, “Breath: New Science Of A Lost Art”, by James Nester who did 5 years of research using sources including Stanford University, the Framingham Heart Study ( which was a 70 year study on life span) and wisdom from ancient cultures such as India, China as well as North and South American indigenous peoples. Most people breathe 20-25 thousand times per day and 25-50 percent are mouth breathing, which is unhealthy. Mouth breathing can be linked to metabolic diseases, poor sleep, a chronic stress response, fatigue, poor cognition {brain fog), snoring, sleep apnea, respiratory diseases, neurological disorders and dental (teeth) crowding. James describes what he calls a dysevolution of the human face related to mouthing breathing and a diet of processed foods. These have led to flattened faces, smaller airways and smaller mouths. It also disrupts the chemical balances of oxygen and carbon dioxide as well as  lowering nitric oxide levels which are necessary for immunity and health. Breathing through your mouth and too frequently actually lowers blood and tissue oxygen levels leading to unhealthy cells and organs which can increase your risk of cancer. Check out this link:

 In addition to filtering, warming and humidifying the air you breathe, the nose is your first line of defense against allergens and pathogens. The mucus and cilia inside block outside invaders from going further down the respiratory tract and making you sick. Nitric Oxide (NO), which is released in the sinuses when you breathe through your nose, is a vasodilator. This means it relaxes blood vessels and lowers blood pressure. You can reduce your risk for illness and it  is not difficult when you decide to make habit changes and take the necessary actions. My recommendations are:

  1. Practice nasal breathing. This may require clearing the airway of congestion by using a neti pot or some other device. *I prefer doing a daily facial dip. It may also require a surgical procedure to remove any physical obstructions.
  2. Dietary changes to eliminate processed foods and inflammatory foods that could contribute to nasal congestion.
  3. Try to breathe less often. Any rate less than ten times per minute will help. Six is considered ideal. Your exhale should be longer than your inhale. This creates what is called “Respiratory Sinus Arrhythmia (RSA). It slows the heart rate and increases Heart Rate Variability {HRV) which is a measure of parasympathetic tone (your rest and digest mode}. Healthy breathing provides relief from your stress response and is necessary for proper digestion and health. Try this technique for practice:

Breathe in through your nose for a count of 5.

Hold for for a count of 7.

Breath out through your nose for a count of 8 and repeat the process.

There are variations of this practice. You may need to reduce the counts and build up to the 5-7-8 method.. As long as you breathe out longer than you breathe in.

  1. Practice diaphragmatic breathing. This is where your abdomen (tummy area moves in and out during breathing. There is very little movement in your chest. See the technique shown below..
  2. Consider “Mouth Taping” at night. You may mouth breath at night, since you lose conscious control. Place a small strip of surgical tape over your lips before sleeping to act as a reminder to keep your lips together. This has been shown to reduce snoring and improve sleep apnea allowing a more restful sleep. Check out these links:

:https://healthhomeandhappiness.com/mouth-taping.html

  1. Take a few moments of gratitude before a meal while you practice slow deep diaphragmatic breathing during your meal. This will improve digestion.

James Brent DDS  

*Daily Facial Dip

Mix 2 quarts of warm water with 1 tablespoon of table salt into a  large shallow bowl.

Dip face

Blink eyes

Breathe in water through your nose, not to point of swallowing

Close eyes

Blow out bubbles through the nose

Resources:

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/179-new-mind-blowing-science-breathing-james-nestor/id1381257272?i=1000502688328&at=1l3vpUI&app=itunes&

Diaphragmatic Breathing Exercise

The diaphragm is the most efficient muscle of breathing. It is a large, dome-shaped muscle located at the base of the lungs. Your abdominal muscles help move the diaphragm and give you more power to empty your lungs. But chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) may prevent the diaphragm from working effectively.

When you have pulmonary disease, air often becomes trapped in the lungs, pushing down on the diaphragm. The neck and chest muscles must then assume an increased share of the work of breathing. This can leave the diaphragm weakened and flattened, causing it to work less efficiently.

Diaphragmatic breathing is intended to help you use the diaphragm correctly while breathing to:

• Strengthen the diaphragm

• Decrease the work of breathing by slowing your breathing rate 

• Decrease oxygen demand

• Use less effort and energy to breathe

Diaphragmatic Breathing Technique

 Lie on your back on a flat surface or in bed, with your knees bent and your head supported. You can use a pillow under your knees to support your legs. Place one hand on your upper chest and the other just below your rib cage. This will allow you to feel your diaphragm move as you breathe.

  Breathe in slowly through your nose so that your stomach moves out against your hand. The hand on your chest should remain as still as possible. 

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 Tighten your stomach muscles, letting them fall inward as you exhale through pursed lips (see “Pursed Lip Breathing Technique”).The hand on your upper chest must remain as still as possible 

1. Sit comfortably, with your knees bent and your shoulders, head and neck relaxed.

2. Breathe in slowly through your nose so that your stomach moves out against your hand. The hand on your chest should remain as still as possible.

3. Place one hand on your upper chest and the other just below your rib cage. This will allow you to feel your diaphragm move as you breathe.

4. Tighten your stomach muscles, letting them fall inward as you exhale through pursed lips (see “Pursed Lip Breathing Technique”). The hand on your upper chest must remain as still as possible.

Note: You may notice an increased effort will be needed to use the diaphragm correctly. At first, you’ll probably get tired while doing this exercise. But keep at it, because with continued practice, diaphragmatic breathing will become easy and automatic.

How often should I practice this exercise?

At first, practice this exercise 5-10 minutes about 3-4 times per day. Gradually increase the amount of time you spend doing this exercise, and perhaps even increase the effort of the exercise by placing a book on your abdomen.

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