You breathe more than you do anything else in life…other than read my tweets.
But most people don’t know how to properly breathe.
In fact, humans are probably the worst breathers in the animal kingdom.
Improper breathing, like eating the wrong foods, has some devastating consequences.
And no matter how healthy you’re eating, you can offset many of the benefits if you breathe improperly.
Here are some of the negative consequences of improper breathing.
Why Breathing Improperly Destroys Your Health
Similar to nutrition, the ancients had far more knowledge than us regarding breathwork. As far back as 100 BC, ancient cultures wrote about conscious breathwork to revitalize health.
Taoist and Hindu texts often spoke of the importance of proper breathwork to a long and healthy life. Modern science is vindicating their claims.
Improper breathwork is an unknown cause of many of the most common health issues.
Here are 5 reasons why improper breathing destroys your health
#1 Acidity & Mineral Depletion
Most people think of CO2 as a simple waste product. But it’s crucial to maintaining your proper blood pH.
Breathing too much expels too much CO2. This causes your blood pH to rise and become more alkaline.
In fact, the people convicting meat of raising blood pH should really train their sights here. Breath has a much larger and pernicious effect. `
Your body needs a pH level of around 7.4 — the midspot between alkaline and acid.
When the pH of your blood changes, your kidney needs to get to work to rebalance it. To do so, your kidney releases bicarbonate into the blood.
This depletes your essential mineral stores because it takes minerals like magnesium, phosphorus and potassium with it.
These minerals are required for almost every bodily function: nerves, muscle function, ATP generation bone integrity.
Therefore, poor breathing can actually counteract the benefits of a nutrient dense diet by depleting your body of nutrients it requires.
#2 HPA Axis Dysfunction
If you’ve ever been stressed, you’ve probably noticed that your breathing changes.
This is because it’s directly tied to your HPA axis.
The HPA axis describes the connection between the hypothalamus, the pituitary gland and the adrenal gland.
Together, these three parts work together to regulate things such as the stress response, mood, digestion, the immune system and energy…so yes, pretty much everything.
The hypothalamus — part of the HPA axis — regulates the autonomic nervous system. This is the part of the body that controls the involuntary body functions like your heartbeat and breathing. It has two parts:
- The sympathetic nervous system: fight or flight response
- Parasympathetic nervous system: A brake on the system promoting rest and digest or the calming after danger has passed
Stress is not inherently bad. But stress that’s not balanced by a requisite parasympathetic response is.
Stress is an adaptive mechanism that’s beneficial to increase alertness and mobilize energy in acute scenarios — like if a tiger pops his head out from behind a bush. But most people today aren’t actually facing situations like a tiger in a bush…but at the same time, their cortisol levels are always high. Just when we actually need cortisol the least, our levels are the highest.
Part of this is because of the constant environmental stimuli, but another reason why is because we’ve forgotten how to breath properly. Shallow, short, mouth breathing will ensure that the sympathetic nervous system always stays activated.
Over time this leads to a dysfunctional HPA Axis.
Some conditions that have been linked to HPA axis dysfunction are
- Horomone imbalances
- Autoimmune disorders
- Cardiovascular disease
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
Breathing is one of the most potent tools to restore HPA axis dysfunction by activating the parasympathetic nervous system.
If you’re interested in my 5 favorite breathing exercises, sign up below
5 Favorite Breathing Exercises
#3 Under-active Vagus Nerve
The vagus nerve is the main component of the parasympathetic nervous system. It establishes connections between the brain and many organs and is effectively the on switch for the parasympathetic nervous system.
Stimulating the vagus nerve is known to have many anti inflammatory properties, via activation of the parasympathetic nervous system.
But most people today are never able to activate it because they live in this half stressed anxious zombie state at all times. This destroys blood flow and communication between the organs.
When this happens, your organs are never able to shut down and relax. This ultimately creates communication and blood flow problems between these organs.
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that 8/10 cancers affect organs that are connected by this vagus nerve.
New devices have been created to stimulate the vagus nerve but there’s another even more effective way: breathing.
Through conscious breathing you can stimulate your vagus nerve. Breathing very fast and hyperventilating turns on your stress response. Whereas doing the opposite can allow you to control it.
#4 CO2 vs O2
Co2 is thought of as this byproduct that destroys the environment, but it’s actually critical for cellular health.
First, as discussed above, it helps to maintain the proper pH of the blood. But it also has some more roles.
One of the most important functions of co2 has to deal with something called the Bohr effect. High levels of co2 cause the hemoglobin in red blood cells to dump their oxygen into tissues. This leads to big surges of energy and physical performance.
To achieve maximum oxygen saturation, your cells actually need CO2.
This is why many people think breathing heavily and deeply through the mouth is the worst possible advice because it depletes you of co2.
According to Neils Bohr, carbon dioxide is the chief hormone of the entire body. It is produced by every tissue and acts on every organ. Just like how everyone is nutrient deficient today, most people are carbon dioxide deficient.
This, in turn, causes people to be oxygen deficient at the cellular level and may cause a whole host of diseases.
Some studies by Pale physiologist Yandell Henderson have shown the power of CO2. He uses a 5% co2 carbon dioxide inhalable compound to treat issues like anxiety epilepsy and even schizophrenia. The thesis is that People with anorexia and panic disorders tend to have much lower carbon dioxide levels. They become anxious from low co2, then overbreathe depleting co2 even more.
#5 Improper Breathing Depletes Nitric Oxide
James Nestor, in his book on breathwork, described how nose breathing increases nitric oxide sixfold over mouthbreathing.
This is one of the reasons why we absorb approximately 18% more oxygen by nose breathing than mouthbreathing.
Nitric oxide has many benefits such as:
- Treating erectile dysfunction
- Lowering blood pressure
- Improved exercise performance
- Management of type 2 diabetes
- Improved arterial health
If you want to be at your optimal health, you need to ensure you have adequate nitric oxide levels.
#6 Hypertension, Sleep Apnea & Snoring
According to James Nestor in his book on Breath, simply switching from nose breathing to mouth breathing caused him to develop snoring, sleep apnea and high blood pressure.
“My blood pressure has spiked by an average of 13 points from where it was before the test, which puts me deep into stage 1 hypertension. If left unchecked, this state of chronically raised blood pressure, also shared by a third of the U.S. population, can cause heart attacks, stroke, and other serious problems. Meanwhile, my heart rate variability, a measure of nervous system balance, has plummeted, suggesting that my body is in a state of stress. Then there’s my pulse, which has increased, and my body temperature, which has decreased, and my mental clarity, which has hit rock bottom. Olsson’s data mirror mine.”
Additionally, in just 24 hours his snoring increased by 1300% to 75 minutes and his sleep apnea events increased fourfold.
This destroys your sleep, exacerbating chronic disease even further.
Almost every chronic disease can be tied in some way to improper breathwork.
#7 Destroys Your Jawline
Excessive mouth breathing makes you unhealthier and uglier. It destroys your jawline and shrinks your nasal passages. Over time, excessive mouthbreathing will weaken the muscles in the face and jaw. It will shorten your face and shrink your mouth.
Over time this makes your nose less and less efficient at breathing, causing you to need to mouth breathe even more
If you want to look and feel your best, you have to breathe through your nose.
Breathwork is a critical pillar of optimal health that most people ignore.
Similar to nutrition, there’s almost nothing else that can change your life more.
If you’re interested in my 5 favorite breathing exercises, sign up below.