Breathe Right, Live Right: The importance of Breathing Through Your Nose
Breathing is one of the most fundamental and essential functions of the human body. We do it unconsciously, thousands of times each day, providing our organs and cells with a steady supply of oxygen while expelling harmful carbon dioxide. Most of the time, we don't even think about how we breathe, but have you ever stopped to consider how you breathe? More specifically, have you paid attention to whether you primarily breathe through your nose or your mouth?
Nasal breathing, the act of inhaling and exhaling through the nose, is a natural and instinctive process that has been with us since the dawn of human evolution. However, in modern times, due to various factors such as allergies, respiratory issues, or even unconscious habits, many individuals have shifted towards mouth breathing. In this blog post, we will explore the importance of breathing through your nose and shed light on why it's crucial for your overall health and well-being.
1. Filtering and Humidifying the Air: The nose serves as a highly efficient air purifier. As we breathe through our nasal passages, tiny hairs called cilia and mucus lining the nose work together to filter out dust, allergens, bacteria, and other harmful particles from the air. This filtration system prevents these pollutants from reaching our lungs, reducing the risk of respiratory infections and other related health issues. Additionally, the nose humidifies the air, ensuring that the lungs receive moist air, which is essential for optimal lung function.
2. Nitric Oxide Production:
One remarkable aspect of nasal breathing is its role in the production of nitric oxide (NO). Nitric oxide is a beneficial gas that helps dilate blood vessels, improving blood flow and oxygen delivery to various tissues in the body. It also has antimicrobial properties, contributing to the body's defense against pathogens. Research suggests that NO produced during nasal breathing may have a positive impact on cardiovascular health and immune function.
3. Enhanced Oxygen Absorption: The intricate structure of the nasal passages allows for a longer and more complex pathway for air to travel before reaching the lungs. This extended pathway gives the body more time to extract oxygen from the air, leading to better oxygen absorption. When you breathe through your mouth, air bypasses this pathway, potentially leading to less efficient oxygen uptake.
4. Proper Lung Function and Breathing Mechanics: Breathing through the nose encourages diaphragmatic breathing, which is the natural way our respiratory system is designed to function. Diaphragmatic breathing involves the contraction and relaxation of the diaphragm muscle, promoting deeper breaths and efficient exchange of gases in the lungs. Mouth breathing, on the other hand, often leads to shallow, inefficient breathing patterns, which can contribute to stress, anxiety, and even sleep disorders.
5. Dental and Oral Health: Nasal breathing is essential for maintaining good oral health. When you breathe through your mouth, your mouth tends to dry out, reducing saliva production. Saliva is crucial for neutralizing acids, preventing tooth decay, and maintaining healthy gums. Chronic mouth breathing may lead to dental problems and even changes in the facial structure over time
6. Improved Sleep and Snoring Reduction: Breathing through the nose is particularly vital during sleep. Nasal breathing allows for better oxygenation, which can lead to improved sleep quality and reduced snoring. When we breathe through our mouths during sleep, it can disrupt our rest and impact our overall health negatively.
7. Mind-Body Connection: Breathing is intricately linked to our nervous system and plays a significant role in our emotional and mental well-being. Nasal breathing is associated with relaxation and activating the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps counteract stress and promote a state of calmness.
In conclusion, the way we breathe profoundly affects our health and quality of life. Opting for nasal breathing over mouth breathing can make a significant difference in our overall well-being. While there may be instances where mouth breathing is necessary, such as during intense physical activities, striving to maintain nasal breathing as much as possible can lead to long-term health benefits.
If you find yourself habitually breathing through your mouth, it may be worth exploring the underlying causes and seeking guidance from healthcare professionals, such as acupuncturists, allergists, dentists, or sleep specialists. By making a conscious effort to embrace nasal breathing and cultivating this natural habit, you can breathe right and live right – promoting a healthier and more balanced life. For more information on the importance of breathing and ways to breath effectively I recommend the book Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art by James Nestor.