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Can Proper Breathing Improve Your Health?


Hello, everyone, and welcome to the Science of Self-Healing podcast. For health and wellness knowledge from a different perspective. Produced by the Bioregulatory Medicine Institute, also known as BRMI. We are your source for unparalleled information about how you can naturally support your body's ability to regulate, adapt, regenerate, and self-heal. I'm your host, Dr. James Odell, the medical and executive director for BRMI, as well as a practicing naturopathic doctor for over 35 years. And remember, this podcast is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for the direct care of a qualified health professional who oversees and provides unique and individual care. The information here is to broaden our different perspectives and should not be construed as medical advice or treatment. Let's get started. Body: Breathing   Today we are going to talk about breathing and how breathing can increase your physical and mental health. Proper breathing is one of the cornerstones of good health, along with a whole foods diet, exercise, and getting proper rest and sleep.  It’s been noted that no matter what we eat, how much we exercise, how resilient our genes are, how skinny, or young, or wise we are- none of it will matter unless we are breathing correctly. Today’s podcast will share the importance of breathing, tell you what proper breathing consists of, convince you to breathe through your nose and provide practical tips on how to breathe better by developing your diaphragm and expanding your lungs. This will reset your nervous system, immune response, and chemoreceptors in the brain. It is estimated that 80% of today’s population is not breathing in a way that best helps their bodies and brains to thrive. Forty percent of the population is thought to suffer from chronic nasal obstruction and fifty percent are thought to be mouth breathers. Additionally, Forty five percent of adults are thought to sometimes snore, and twenty five percent of the population is thought to snore regularly.  Signs that you may not be breathing in an optimal way include allergies, asthma, snoring, and a stuffy nose.  Breathing properly can reduce blood pressure, eliminate headaches, and reduce symptoms of depression. There are even reports of breathing techniques helping singers and Olympic athletes to perform better, and patients with emphysema and patients with scoliosis to regain health. Let’s talk about the history of breathing and things that contribute to difficulty in breathing properly.  We'll first talk about rapid industrialization and how that changed humans breath about 300 years ago. Industrialization, where processed food became the norm, directly contributed to human mouths getting smaller, faces getting flatter and sinuses getting congested. Prior to that, humans had to really chew nutrient dense foods so they got more vitamins and nutrients, and they had to chew longer and harder to eat their food. After rapid industrialization, humans ate softer, less nutritious food, and small mouths and obstructed airways became commonplace.  A more recent practice for some who wore braces on their teeth was to have teeth extracted, which resulted in overall smaller mouths and narrowed airways.  Congestion can make it so the only way to breathe is through your mouth. Individuals with deviated septums, sinus issues, and other issues who have difficulty breathing through their nose and often breathe through their mouth, which adversely impacts their overall health.   Breathing The study of breathing involves the study of anatomy and physiology. Breath travels down the throat to the tracheal carina then to the lungs, bronchioles and alveoli. Breathing through your nose and engaging your lungs and diaphragm, exercising good posture, thoroughly chewing the most nutrient dense food, and practicing exercises to nose breathe such as mewing all improve breath. All of these improve breath. Breathing is necessary for life because it helps the body to get oxygen. Oxygen is needed for energy production and cell function. Breathing brings oxygen in and removes carbon dioxide, a waste product of cellular respiration. Carbon dioxide is brought back to the lungs by the bloodstream and exhaled out the body. Breathing keeps your cells alive by providing them with oxygen and removing waste products. Experts advise not just focusing on inhaling, but focusing on inhaling and exhaling. Performance coaches look to balance oxygen and carbon dioxide levels. And there is ongoing research about the important role that carbon dioxide plays.  Breathing is often involuntary and controlled by the brainstem. It’s part of your autonomic nervous system. Using conscious breathing techniques can influence physiological responses that are usually thought to be outside of conscious control. What not to do-Mouth breathing  Many people breathe through their mouths. Mouth breathing should be avoided because it can lead to dry mouth, high blood pressure, heart attacks, dehydration, strokes, bad breath, exhaustion, insomnia, and sleep apnea. It can even cause facial deformities in children.  Overbreathing is also bad for you. Individuals with the worst health on average, breathe too much. Many experts recommend breathing less and breathing more slowly and deeply. Athletes who adapted to breathing less had their muscles adapt to more lactate accumulation and be able to train harder and longer.   Most people tend to breathe shallowly and do not adequately engage the diaphragm. Data suggests that most of us engage approximately ten percent of our diaphragm when we breathe which can result in increased blood pressure and an overworked heart. Increasing to engaging fifty percent or more of the diaphragm has positive benefits for heart health.  A good way to consciously engage your diaphragm is to take deeper breaths. You should be able to notice your stomach rising and falling, not just a sensation in your chest and shoulders. You should strive for diaphragmatic breathing where the abdomen expands during breathing.  It helps to remember that lung expansion that occurs lower in the body is not just in the upper chest. Only when the diaphragm is involved is it considered deep breathing. The diaphragm sits below the lungs and helps the lungs to expand and contract and increases the efficiency of the lungs, so it is necessary to involve the diaphragm in deep breathing.  The best way to start diaphragmatic breathing is to lie down, and put one hand on the chest and the other hand on the stomach. Then inhale through your nose, making sure to breathe all the way down to your stomach - you will feel your stomach moving and your chest will not move. Then exhale by tightening your stomach muscles and allowing your stomach to fall down while exhaling through pursed lips. The stomach will move, but the chest will not move.  Empirical studies support that diaphragmatic breathing may cause body relaxation responses and benefit physical and mental health.   It may help with stress reduction by using slow paced breathing techniques to reduce tension and stress. Many notice that when they are stressed they have shallow breathing.  It can improve mental health by reducing anxiety and depression and improve digestion. It helps to lower blood pressure - slow deep breathing is thought to promote baroreceptor inhibition of chemoreceptors leading to increased vasodilation and decreased blood pressure. - It can help with weight loss- the carbon dioxide in exhalations has weight, and individuals lose weight through exhaled breath.  Proper breathing boosts energy levels and reduces stress and anxiety and improves sleep quality - the American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends conscious breathing and relaxation for insomnia.  Breathing techniques can impact the autonomic nervous system and change the heart rate, blood pressure, and stress levels. Optimal breathing can improve cognitive function and emotional regulation. Breathing can even aid pain management. Breathwork practitioners tout breathwork as a way to develop mastery over the nervous, immune, and cardiovascular systems.  The greatest indicator for a long life span is lung capacity Walking, cycling and other exercise helps to increase lung size and capacity.  Vitamins for better lung health Vitamin C is an antioxidant that helps protect cells from damage. It may reduce inflammation in the airways and improve lung function. It’s been shown that smokers have low vitamin C levels and should supplementing with vitamin C. Vitamin D may help protect against respiratory infections and is important for immune function. Vitamin E is an antioxidant that may also help protect lung cells from damage. Magnesium is a mineral that helps to relax muscles in the airways. It can be helpful for individuals with asthma or conditions that cause airway narrowing.  Omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties that may prove to help lung function as well. N-acetylcysteine (NAC) NAC is an amino acid that helps to thin mucus and may help improve symptoms of obstructive pulmonary disease. Quercetin is a flavonoid that has anti-inflammatory properties and antioxidant properties. It may help to reduce symptoms of asthma and allergies.  Food for healthy lungs  Fruits rich in Vitamin C can help protect the lungs from damage caused by free radicals. Oranges, grapefruits, kiwis, and berries are all lung friendly foods.  Leafy green vegetables are packed with antioxidants and nutrients that can reduce inflammation in the airways. Greens, spinach, collard greens, and kale are all part of a healthy diet that supports lung health.  Fatty fish like tuna, salmon, and mackerel are rich in omega-3 fatty acids that may help improve lung function.  Whole grains are a good source of fiber which may reduce inflammation and contribute to lung health. Beets contain important nitrates which can relax blood vessels and improve blood flow to the lungs.  Essential Oils  Eucalyptus oil has a decongestant effect that can help clear congestion and open up airways.  Peppermint oil too helps relieve congestion and opens up airways.  Tea tree oil helps fight off respiratory infections.  Lavender oil helps promote better sleep which can be helpful to the respiratory system.  Final thoughts  We have to breathe. It costs nothing to learn how to breathe deeply and to breathe deeply on a regular basis and the rewards are huge. It can be done anywhere, and at any time, with focus and practice.  Those with stuffy noses or small nostrils can use an index finger to pull the outside of each nostril, one at a time out. If it is easier to breathe that way you may have small nostrils. Things that can help Increase lung capacity through exercise and utilize diaphragmatic breathing. Breathe less and breathe more slowly and deeply. If allergies cause you to have a stuffy nose consider using a saline nasal rinse. Nasal strips can help open up nasal passages and make breathing through your nose easier.  Keep your environment hydrated and use a humidifier to add moisture to the air. For that matter, keep your body hydrated as well. Sleep on your side.  Practice nasal breathing by paying attention to how you are breathing and purposefully focusing on and practicing breathing through your nose. Practice proper posture. Eat foods that require heavy chewing and chew thoroughly. You may need to count your chews. If you sleep with your mouth open, or snore, try taping your mouth at night to encourage better breathing.  Experiment with mewing which is a technique where you place your tongue on the roof of your mouth to help expand the palate and make breathing easier.   BRMI recently posted “breathe 4:7:8” on our facebook page. Inhale for a count of 4 through your nose - hold for a count of 7 - exhale for a count of 8, to help your body into a parasympathetic state. So that’s 4:7:8. Practice yoga, use conscious breathing or pray. 5.5 second inhales followed by 5.5 second exhales is about 5.5 breaths a minute which is similar to prayer techniques used by Christians, Buddhists, and Native Americans and is a practice found to optimize health.  Alternate nostril breathing is a technique to help breathing. You put a finger on one nostril to hold it shut and only breathe through the other nostril both inhaling and exhaling through the same nostril and then alternate between the nostrils. Inhaling through the left nostril helps the parasympathetic nervous system and can help lower blood pressure and anxiety. Inhaling through the right nostril can help with decision making.  Set a timer on your phone or watch to check in to see how you are breathing and to remind yourself to breathe more slowly, and to focus both on the inhalation and exhalation of breath. Remember you have to breathe anyway- breathing through your nose, breathing diaphragmatically, breathing slower, are all easy ways to elevate your life and allow your body to self-heal.     Thank you for your time today, and remember that this podcast is made possible by the Bioregulatory Medicine Institute, also known as BRMI, a nonprofit, global, non political, non commercial institute to promote the science and art of bioregulatory medicine. We extend our gratitude to each and every one of you for listening today, and if you haven't already, make sure to visit us at brmi.online. A treasure trove of invaluable information awaits you there. Connect with us across various social media platforms as well. Come and become a member of our thriving tribe. If you've enjoyed today's episode, we invite you to show your support by rating us, leaving us a review, or sharing the podcast within your circle. Our podcast and mission flourish through sharing, and your participation means the world to us. Our organization is sustained by donations, each of which is tax deductible and fuels projects like this. Visit our website, brmi.online, to contribute or simply to explore the wealth of uncensored and impartial information we offer. No contribution is too small. In just two weeks, we'll be back delving into another captivating topic. Until then, we thank you once again for listening. May wellness and wisdom be your path. Be well.

Join Dr. James Odell for Season 2 of the Science of Self-Healing Podcast! He's the Medical and Executive Director for BRMI, as well as a practicing naturopathic doctor for over 35 years, and he's here to share with you his extensive knowledge of medicine from a different perspective.

Could simply changing how you breathe increase your physical and mental health? In this episode, we explore the transformative power of proper breathing techniques and how they can revolutionize your well-being. Inspired by James Nestor's insights, we discuss why correct breathing is crucial, regardless of diet, exercise, or genetic predisposition.


Learn about the impact of mouth breathing versus nasal breathing, and practical tips to enhance your breathwork. Discover how engaging your diaphragm and expanding your lungs can reset your nervous system, boost your immune response, and improve mental clarity.


Join us as we uncover the science, and benefits of optimal breathing, along with actionable techniques to breathe better. Learn about the vital role of lung capacity in longevity, the importance of key vitamins for lung health, and foods that support your respiratory system.



Transcript: Can Proper Breathing Improve Your Health?

Hello, everyone, and welcome to the Science of Self-Healing podcast. For health and wellness knowledge from a different perspective. Produced by the Bioregulatory Medicine Institute, also known as BRMI. We are your source for unparalleled information about how you can naturally support your body's ability to regulate, adapt, regenerate, and self-heal. I'm your host, Dr. James Odell, the medical and executive director for BRMI, as well as a practicing naturopathic doctor for over 35 years. And remember, this podcast is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for the direct care of a qualified health professional who oversees and provides unique and individual care. The information here is to broaden our different perspectives and should not be construed as medical advice or treatment. Let's get started.


Today we are going to talk about breathing and how breathing can increase your physical and mental health.


Proper breathing is one of the cornerstones of good health, along with a whole foods diet, exercise, and getting proper rest and sleep. 


It’s been noted that no matter what we eat, how much we exercise, how resilient our genes are, how skinny, or young, or wise we are- none of it will matter unless we are breathing correctly.


Today’s podcast will share the importance of breathing, tell you what proper breathing consists of, convince you to breathe through your nose and provide practical tips on how to breathe better by developing your diaphragm and expanding your lungs. This will reset your nervous system, immune response, and chemoreceptors in the brain.


It is estimated that 80% of today’s population is not breathing in a way that best helps their bodies and brains to thrive. Forty percent of the population is thought to suffer from chronic nasal obstruction and fifty percent are thought to be mouth breathers. Additionally, Forty five percent of adults are thought to sometimes snore, and twenty five percent of the population is thought to snore regularly. 


Signs that you may not be breathing in an optimal way include allergies, asthma, snoring, and a stuffy nose. 


Breathing properly can reduce blood pressure, eliminate headaches, and reduce symptoms of depression. There are even reports of breathing techniques helping singers and Olympic athletes to perform better, and patients with emphysema and patients with scoliosis to regain health.


Let’s talk about the history of breathing and things that contribute to difficulty in breathing properly. 


We'll first talk about rapid industrialization and how that changed humans breath about 300 years ago. Industrialization, where processed food became the norm, directly contributed to human mouths getting smaller, faces getting flatter and sinuses getting congested. Prior to that, humans had to really chew nutrient dense foods so they got more vitamins and nutrients, and they had to chew longer and harder to eat their food. After rapid industrialization, humans ate softer, less nutritious food, and small mouths and obstructed airways became commonplace. 


A more recent practice for some who wore braces on their teeth was to have teeth extracted, which resulted in overall smaller mouths and narrowed airways. 


Congestion can make it so the only way to breathe is through your mouth. Individuals with deviated septums, sinus issues, and other issues who have difficulty breathing through their nose and often breathe through their mouth, which adversely impacts their overall health. 


Breathing

The study of breathing involves the study of anatomy and physiology. Breath travels down the throat to the tracheal carina then to the lungs, bronchioles and alveoli. Breathing through your nose and engaging your lungs and diaphragm, exercising good posture, thoroughly chewing the most nutrient dense food, and practicing exercises to nose breathe such as mewing all improve breath. All of these improve breath.


Breathing is necessary for life because it helps the body to get oxygen. Oxygen is needed for energy production and cell function. Breathing brings oxygen in and removes carbon dioxide, a waste product of cellular respiration. Carbon dioxide is brought back to the lungs by the bloodstream and exhaled out the body. Breathing keeps your cells alive by providing them with oxygen and removing waste products. Experts advise not just focusing on inhaling, but focusing on inhaling and exhaling. Performance coaches look to balance oxygen and carbon dioxide levels. And there is ongoing research about the important role that carbon dioxide plays. 


Breathing is often involuntary and controlled by the brainstem. It’s part of your autonomic nervous system. Using conscious breathing techniques can influence physiological responses that are usually thought to be outside of conscious control.


What Not To Do

Many people breathe through their mouths. Mouth breathing should be avoided because it can lead to dry mouth, high blood pressure, heart attacks, dehydration, strokes, bad breath, exhaustion, insomnia, and sleep apnea. It can even cause facial deformities in children. 


Overbreathing is also bad for you. Individuals with the worst health on average, breathe too much. Many experts recommend breathing less and breathing more slowly and deeply. Athletes who adapted to breathing less had their muscles adapt to more lactate accumulation and be able to train harder and longer. 


Most people tend to breathe shallowly and do not adequately engage the diaphragm. Data suggests that most of us engage approximately ten percent of our diaphragm when we breathe which can result in increased blood pressure and an overworked heart. Increasing to engaging fifty percent or more of the diaphragm has positive benefits for heart health.


What You Should Do

A good way to consciously engage your diaphragm is to take deeper breaths. You should be able to notice your stomach rising and falling, not just a sensation in your chest and shoulders. You should strive for diaphragmatic breathing where the abdomen expands during breathing. 


It helps to remember that lung expansion that occurs lower in the body is not just in the upper chest. Only when the diaphragm is involved is it considered deep breathing. The diaphragm sits below the lungs and helps the lungs to expand and contract and increases the efficiency of the lungs, so it is necessary to involve the diaphragm in deep breathing. 


The best way to start diaphragmatic breathing is to lie down, and put one hand on the chest and the other hand on the stomach. Then inhale through your nose, making sure to breathe all the way down to your stomach - you will feel your stomach moving and your chest will not move. Then exhale by tightening your stomach muscles and allowing your stomach to fall down while exhaling through pursed lips. The stomach will move, but the chest will not move. 


Empirical studies support that diaphragmatic breathing may cause body relaxation responses and benefit physical and mental health.  


It may help with stress reduction by using slow paced breathing techniques to reduce tension and stress. Many notice that when they are stressed they have shallow breathing. 

It can improve mental health by reducing anxiety and depression and improve digestion.

It helps to lower blood pressure - slow deep breathing is thought to promote baroreceptor inhibition of chemoreceptors leading to increased vasodilation and decreased blood pressure.


It can help with weight loss - the carbon dioxide in exhalations has weight, and individuals lose weight through exhaled breath. 


Proper breathing boosts energy levels and reduces stress and anxiety and improves sleep quality - the American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends conscious breathing and relaxation for insomnia. 


Breathing techniques can impact the autonomic nervous system and change the heart rate, blood pressure, and stress levels. Optimal breathing can improve cognitive function and emotional regulation. Breathing can even aid pain management. Breathwork practitioners tout breathwork as a way to develop mastery over the nervous, immune, and cardiovascular systems.


The Greatest Indicator for a Long Life Span is Lung Capacity

Walking, cycling and other exercise helps to increase lung size and capacity.


Vitamins for Better Lung Health

Vitamin C is an antioxidant that helps protect cells from damage. It may reduce inflammation in the airways and improve lung function. It’s been shown that smokers have low vitamin C levels and should supplementing with vitamin C.


Vitamin D may help protect against respiratory infections and is important for immune function.


Vitamin E is an antioxidant that may also help protect lung cells from damage.


Magnesium is a mineral that helps to relax muscles in the airways. It can be helpful for individuals with asthma or conditions that cause airway narrowing. 


Omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties that may prove to help lung function as well.


N-acetylcysteine (NAC) NAC is an amino acid that helps to thin mucus and may help improve symptoms of obstructive pulmonary disease.


Quercetin is a flavonoid that has anti-inflammatory properties and antioxidant properties. It may help to reduce symptoms of asthma and allergies.


Food for Healthy Lungs 

Fruits rich in Vitamin C can help protect the lungs from damage caused by free radicals. Oranges, grapefruits, kiwis, and berries are all lung friendly foods. 


Leafy green vegetables are packed with antioxidants and nutrients that can reduce inflammation in the airways. Greens, spinach, collard greens, and kale are all part of a healthy diet that supports lung health. 


Fatty fish like tuna, salmon, and mackerel are rich in omega-3 fatty acids that may help improve lung function. 


Whole grains are a good source of fiber which may reduce inflammation and contribute to lung health.


Beets contain important nitrates which can relax blood vessels and improve blood flow to the lungs. 


Essential Oils 

Eucalyptus oil has a decongestant effect that can help clear congestion and open up airways. 


Peppermint oil too helps relieve congestion and opens up airways. 


Tea tree oil helps fight off respiratory infections. 


Lavender oil helps promote better sleep which can be helpful to the respiratory system. 


Final Thoughts 

We have to breathe. It costs nothing to learn how to breathe deeply and to breathe deeply on a regular basis and the rewards are huge. It can be done anywhere, and at any time, with focus and practice. 


Those with stuffy noses or small nostrils can use an index finger to pull the outside of each nostril, one at a time out. If it is easier to breathe that way you may have small nostrils.


Things That Can Help

  • Increase lung capacity through exercise and utilize diaphragmatic breathing.

  • Breathe less and breathe more slowly and deeply.

  • If allergies cause you to have a stuffy nose consider using a saline nasal rinse. Nasal strips can help open up nasal passages and make breathing through your nose easier. 

  • Keep your environment hydrated and use a humidifier to add moisture to the air. For that matter, keep your body hydrated as well.

  • Sleep on your side. 

  • Practice nasal breathing by paying attention to how you are breathing and purposefully focusing on and practicing breathing through your nose.

  • Practice proper posture.

  • Eat foods that require heavy chewing and chew thoroughly. You may need to count your chews.

  • If you sleep with your mouth open, or snore, try taping your mouth at night to encourage better breathing. 

  • Experiment with mewing which is a technique where you place your tongue on the roof of your mouth to help expand the palate and make breathing easier.  

  • BRMI recently posted “breathe 4:7:8” on our facebook page. Inhale for a count of 4 through your nose - hold for a count of 7 - exhale for a count of 8, to help your body into a parasympathetic state. So that’s 4:7:8.

  • Practice yoga, use conscious breathing or pray. 5.5 second inhales followed by 5.5 second exhales is about 5.5 breaths a minute which is similar to prayer techniques used by Christians, Buddhists, and Native Americans and is a practice found to optimize health. 

  • Alternate nostril breathing is a technique to help breathing. You put a finger on one nostril to hold it shut and only breathe through the other nostril both inhaling and exhaling through the same nostril and then alternate between the nostrils. Inhaling through the left nostril helps the parasympathetic nervous system and can help lower blood pressure and anxiety. Inhaling through the right nostril can help with decision making. 

  • Set a timer on your phone or watch to check in to see how you are breathing and to remind yourself to breathe more slowly, and to focus both on the inhalation and exhalation of breath.


Remember you have to breathe anyway - breathing through your nose, breathing diaphragmatically, breathing slower, are all easy ways to elevate your life and allow your body to self-heal. 


Thank you for your time today, and remember that this podcast is made possible by the Bioregulatory Medicine Institute, also known as BRMI, a nonprofit, global, non political, non commercial institute to promote the science and art of bioregulatory medicine. We extend our gratitude to each and every one of you for listening today, and if you haven't already, make sure to visit us at brmi.online. A treasure trove of invaluable information awaits you there. Connect with us across various social media platforms as well. Come and become a member of our thriving tribe. If you've enjoyed today's episode, we invite you to show your support by rating us, leaving us a review, or sharing the podcast within your circle. Our podcast and mission flourish through sharing, and your participation means the world to us. Our organization is sustained by donations, each of which is tax deductible and fuels projects like this. Visit our website, brmi.online, to contribute or simply to explore the wealth of uncensored and impartial information we offer. No contribution is too small. In just two weeks, we'll be back delving into another captivating topic. Until then, we thank you once again for listening. May wellness and wisdom be your path. Be well.



1 Comment


iticianset
Jun 12

I never realized how much proper breathing could impact overall health until listening to this podcast. Definitely going to start paying more attention to my breath and incorporating some of these techniques into my daily routine! tunnel rush

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