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  • Writer's pictureMatt Crowe

The Power of Nasal Breathing

Human beings have lost the art of breathing correctly!

For Millennia ancient cultures understood the immense health promoting and healing properties of breathing through our nose! But modern practices, diets, pollutants and general poor lifestyle choices have turned us all into mouth breathers! And the consequences are everything from poor sleep, obesity and low energy to susceptibility to disease and increased stress response!

Nasal breathing offers the following benefits over breathing through the mouth.

  1. Warms and humidifies the air: Nasal passages warm and humidify the air as it enters the body, making it easier to breathe and preventing irritation of the lungs.

  2. Filters the air: The hairs inside the nose, known as cilia, trap and filter pollutants, dust, and other particles in the air, preventing them from entering the lungs.

  3. Boosts oxygen uptake: Nasal breathing increases the amount of oxygen that is taken in and delivered to the body's tissues, as compared to mouth breathing.

  4. Promotes relaxation: Nasal breathing activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which promotes relaxation and decreases stress levels.

  5. Enhances athletic performance: Nasal breathing during exercise can help regulate breathing patterns, prevent over-breathing, and improve endurance.

  6. Supports oral health: Nasal breathing helps maintain a balanced oral environment by reducing dryness, which can contribute to tooth decay and gum disease.

Nasal Breathing and Nitric Oxide

The biggest unrecognised benefit of nasal breathing is increased nitric oxide delivery to the body. Nitric oxide (which only came to fame in 1992) is a gas that is naturally produced in the body and plays an important role in regulating various physiological processes.

  1. Nitric oxide is produced in the nasal passages and released into the air that we breathe in.

  2. Nitric oxide widens trachea and bronchioles to allow greater air flow and oxygen delivery to lungs

  3. Nitric oxide is a potent blood vessel dilator allowing for increased blood flow and oxygen delivery throughout the body especially the heart and lungs. Note: Viagra is essentially a nitric oxide drug allowing blood flow to genitals.

  4. Nitric oxide is a natural anti microbial shown to kill unwanted bacteria, parasites and some virus strains. There is even good evidence showing its effectiveness at reducing Covid 19 symptoms.

Pro Tip - if you breathe through your nose and hum you can increase nitric oxide production by 15 x!

Breathing through your nose is indeed a super power we should all learn.

Top ways to Nasal Breathe

1. Mouth Taping at night. It may sound a little ‘weird & scarey’ but the science is showing that mouth taping is having dramatic benefits including: curing sleep apnea and snoring, improving sleep quality, decreasing illness and even allowing people to drop significant weight!

What to do:

  • Buy some lightly adhesive porous tape. Note: There are now dedicated mouth tapes.

  • Place a postage stamp size piece over your mouth each night. This simply reminds you to keep your mouth closed. Note: You can still easily open your mouth if you apply a little force.

  • In the morning remove it with your tongue to avoid irritation.

Note: Mouth taping is not suitable for everyone. It may be contraindicated for people who have asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), or other respiratory conditions.

2. Nasal breathing at work - another great opportunity to develop the habit of breathing through your nose is to be conscious that when you sit at your desk you close your mouth. Note: The nasal breathing will also keep you much calmer!

3. Nasal breathing during travel - when you drive or catch public transport is another great opportunity to sit quietly and breath only through your nose.

4.During exercise - whilst breathing through your nose when exerting effort is very difficult it is extremely beneficial to practice nasal breathing during the following:

  • Light exercise such as walking or cycle. Note: I discourage nasal breathing when swimming!! (-:

  • When recovering between cardio intervals or weight. Your nose will deliver much greater oxygen levels to your lungs and will therefore slow your heart rate more efficiently than mouth breathing. Bottom line - you will perform better.

  • Down regulation post exercise - a fantastic tool to calm down your nervous system and allow systemic recovery after exercise is to do 3minutes of gentle nose breathing with long easy inhales and long slow exhales.

It will take at least 2 months to develop these habits to the point where your default will be breathing through your nose not your mouth but you will notice profound differences in how you feel (less stress, more calm, better focus) and perform (cognition, energy, recovery).

Once again it seems that the ancient practices for health and wellbeing are superior in many ways!

Developing the art of nasal breathing may be your untapped super power to upgrade your health, wellness and performance!

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