When it comes to breathing, many of us take it for granted, but did you know that the way we breathe can have a significant impact on our health and well-being? For example, breathing through your nose provides many benefits that you may not have known about.
Nose breathing improves health
Sports. When we breathe through our nose, we take in more oxygen, which exactly matches the amount of physical activity we do. With nasal breathing, you can conduct an ideal workout, since the body does not experience either a shortage or an excess of stress. If you listen to your body while exercising, your nose and breathing patterns determine the optimal intensity of your workouts, so you can get by without a heart rate monitor. You automatically stay within the aerobic range, the energy supply of muscle activity is always precisely matched to current needs. What does this lead to? You don't get tired as quickly, and the risk of muscle soreness and injury is reduced.
- The circulatory system. When breathing through the nose, blood circulation improves throughout the body, this reduces the workload on the heart, heart rate and blood pressure.
- Respiratory system. During nasal breathing, the inhaled air is much easier to enter the lower lobes of the lungs. The close relationship with the vagus or vagus nerve in this part of the lungs is one of the many reasons why slow nasal breathing is so beneficial to the body.
- More oxygen. Another benefit of nasal breathing is that it allows us to take in 18% more oxygen than if we breathed through our mouths. This allows the body to absorb more oxygen from the lungs, resulting in increased blood oxygen saturation and optimal energy production.
- Muscles. Although breathing through the nose helps to relax the body, the position of the tongue when breathing through the nose affects posture, indirectly helping to strengthen the muscles of the larynx and neck.
But the benefits of nasal breathing don't stop there. When we breathe through our nose, it works like a filter: the air is effectively "purified" to remove dust, dirt, and harmful particles such as viruses and bacteria. It helps protect our lungs and keep us healthy.
By the way, nasal breathing is an innate survival mechanism. Babies naturally breathe through their noses: this is the only way they can suckle and breathe at the same time without the risk of suffocation.
More protection — less danger
The nose is designed in such a way that it acts as a filter, warming and moistening the air entering the body. If the inhaled air is too cool, it heats up to body temperature, while the dry and hot inhaled air, on the contrary, is humidified and cooled.
In addition to dust and dirt particles, large amounts of viruses and bacteria are also removed from the inhaled air when taken in through the nose. If, instead, air always went through the mouth directly to the lungs, we would get sick much more often.
Why the sense of smell is so important
In addition, nasal breathing provides other ways of protection. For example, you can identify spoiled food by smell. The olfactory cells in the nose also react immediately in the event of a fire or the presence of harmful substances in the air we breathe.
The nose can not only recognize dangers, but also help in choosing a partner: when you breathe through your mouth, pheromones evaporate. Behind this are chemosensory aromatics and neurotransmitters that are responsible for our ability, or inability, to "smell" someone (in the figurative sense of the word).
Why gas is vital
The reason for the increased oxygen consumption when breathing through the nose is a colorless, odorless gas: nitric oxide (NO). During nasal breathing, it is produced in the paranasal sinuses and enters along with the air flow into the lower respiratory tract and lungs.
Nitric oxide is not formed when breathing through the mouth. And this gas is necessary to ensure uniform pulmonary blood flow. Nitric oxide dilates blood vessels and promotes gas exchange in the air sacs (alveoli) of the lungs, allowing more oxygen to enter the blood. The gas also regulates blood flow and helps ensure an even distribution of oxygen throughout the body.
Finally, the produced NO protects the vessels by smoothing their inner walls and increasing their elasticity. An example from everyday life illustrates one of the reasons why nitric oxide is important to the body. So, studies indirectly confirm the connection between erectile dysfunction and breathing through the mouth. A study of this issue showed that men with nasal polyps are more likely to suffer from erectile dysfunction. When it became easier for them to breathe through their nose after the polyps were removed, their erectile function also improved. At the same time, the production of nitric oxide not only has a beneficial effect on certain functions of the male body, but also increases libido in women.
Nasal breathing against COVID-19
The toxic properties of nitric oxide are also used by the body for defense. There is growing evidence that nitric oxide is produced in the paranasal sinuses to fight viruses and bacteria. Scientists noted that nitric oxide helped reduce the severity of the virus that causes severe acute respiratory syndrome and prevent its spread. This gas has also been used effectively to treat patients with severe acute respiratory syndrome who developed pneumonia.
The close relationship of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome virus to the coronavirus suggests that nitric oxide may also slow down the replication of the virus and increase the survival of vulnerable cells. In the US, nitric oxide inhalation is already being used to treat patients with COVID-19, although the technique has not yet been approved.
Breathing through the nose alone will not protect against coronavirus infection. However, it can serve as a simple measure of protection against viruses and bacteria. The production of nitric oxide helps to strengthen the immune system and reduce the risk of infection, even if it is a common cold or a bad flu.
Breathing through your nose can be a simple and effective way to improve your health and well-being. It may seem uncomfortable at first, but with practice, you can reap the benefits of nasal breathing and improve your overall health.