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7 Keys to Good Health by Good Breathing
A very common slogan among asthmatics is “when you can’t breathe, nothing else matters”, which refers to the despair of a person who cannot breathe life-giving air. Is life-giving air the whole story of breathing? This article discusses common breathing techniques and reasons for their effectiveness. It goes further and provides essential elements in breathing techniques for good health.
Breathing is perhaps one of the most centrally integrated autonomic behaviors that goes beyond the simple filling of the lungs. Garcia AJ writes in 2011:
“Breathing emerges from complex network interactions involving neurons distributed throughout the nervous system. The respiratory rhythmic network is composed of microscopic networks operating within a larger network that produces characteristic rhythms and patterns of breathing.”
Garcia’s study shows the best results when a person is affected by strong emotions such as fear and anger.
Mainstream advice for breathing is to override autonomic control and consciously inhale deeply through the nose and slowly exhale through the mouth with pursed lips.
Dr. of ‘Ready, Set, Breathe’ fame. Carla Nomberg PhD Breathing exercises bring mindfulness into everyday life. By remembering to breathe, a space is created to restore calm and lower blood pressure and stress hormones, creating an opportunity for situational control.
Professor Konstantin Buteyko (Russia 1923-2003) is credited with a technique in which the rate of breathing is slowed down and carbon dioxide is built up to the point of bursting with pauses of non-breathing intervals.
Breathing is a relevant component of yoga practice. Yoga breathing techniques are usually accompanied by different poses or some form of meditation. So it is difficult to isolate and tell the effect of breathing, posture or meditation.
Pandit JJ in 2003 tested 3 breathing techniques for optimal oxygen uptake, as follows:
1. Three (3) minutes of high tide
2. Take four (4) deep breaths in 30 seconds
3. Take eight (8) deep breaths in 60 seconds
Oxygen uptake was similar for items 1. and 3 and greater efficacy than item 2. His work makes it clear that breathing technique is important.
Enter nitric oxide (NO), a colorless gas with a half-life of only seconds. Science magazine named nitric oxide (NO) “Molecule of the Year” in 1994.
In 1998, the Karolinska Institute awarded US pharmacologist Robert F. Furchgott, PhD, Firid Murad, MD, PhD, and Louis J. Ignaro, PhD, was awarded the Nobel Prize for discovering the role of nitric oxide (NO) as a signaling molecule. In the cardiovascular system.
NO relaxes the smooth muscles in the arteries providing a larger flow area for blood, thus lowering blood pressure and getting more nutrients to where they are needed. The importance of NO in human physiological functions cannot be overstated. Although 1000’s of research papers have been written, global research continues. NO has been implicated in heart health, low blood pressure, sleep quality, and even erectile dysfunction.
NO is produced in the sinuses, the largest being the maxillary sinuses on either side of the nose. They are closed chambers except for a small soft-tissue opening called the ossium that opens the olfactory airway.
There is no right or wrong way to breathe – the autonomic brain function sees to it that you get enough oxygen into your system. However, there are ways to breathe to get the most NO into your system. Here are 7 pointers to help get this amazing gas into your bloodstream.
1. Breathe in rapidly through your nose.
Nasal hairs and constricted nasal passages ensure negative pressure in the airways. This partial vacuum causes the sinuses to deliver less NO-laden air into your inhaled breath. The harder you breathe, the more sinuses will deliver.
2. Close one nostril and inhale.
Blocking one nostril and in turn the other will create a partial vacuum that injects NO-laden air into your inhaled breath.
3. Close both nostrils and try to inhale.
Close both nostrils and try to breathe. This creates a maximum vacuum in your respiratory system that sucks unwanted air out of the sinuses. Of course, you can only do this for a short time before resuming normal breathing.
4. Breathe slowly through your mouth.
It takes no time to absorb into your bloodstream. Accordingly, it is best to hold the breath as long as is comfortable. Alternately exhale slowly to give the lungs time to absorb NO.
5. Hum or sing
Lundberg et al in 2003 showed that humming increases exhalation by 700%. Other researchers found a further increase in exhaled NO during humming. The problem is that it is difficult to breathe while humming. Thus the suggested sequence is to hum for 3 seconds and then immediately inhale.
6. Pretend to snore
To overcome the problem of humming and breathing at the same time, it is advisable to pretend to snore, as if you are snoring. The frequency of snoring sounds ranges from approximately 110 to 350 Hz, the natural frequency of the maxillary sinus. Allowing the maxillary sinus to resonate will result in an NO-laden air pulse proportional to the exhaled breath. Because snoring is an inhaling maneuver, more NO will reach the lungs.
7. Valsalva Maneuver
Headaches are often avoided by using the Valsalva maneuver during the landing procedure. This trick involves closing both nostrils while trying to exhale until the ear drums ‘pop’. This has the effect of depressurizing the sinuses which release pressure on subsequent inhalation and inject NO-laden air into the olfactory airways.
Frequently Asked Questions
A. NO in the sinuses is a limited resource and can be depleted. How can it be filled? A lot of foods rich in nitrates e.g. Beetroot, fenugreek etc. Eat and give your body time to convert nitrates to NO.
B. Why not breathe in NO gas like children with pulmonary hypertension? The dose of NO is carefully controlled in the clinical setting. Exposure of animals to NO has resulted in drowsiness, unconsciousness, and death.
C. Why not sit in high traffic areas and breathe in the NO produced by cars? Motor vehicle exhaust gas contains NO. However, exhaust gases are a toxic cocktail of other gases such as carbon monoxide. The risk of poisoning outweighs any benefits.
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