Breathing through your nose. Just breathe. Whether you hear it in a yoga class, while training for a marathon, or when researching stress-management techniques. It’s a message you’ve likely encountered again, and again: Just breathe.
We all know breathing is the single most important thing we do to keep ourselves alive. And it goes without saying that good breathing is paramount in establishing good health. But the difference between merely good and optimal health isn’t as simple as “just breathing.” It’s about how you breathe.
At some point, many of us—most unconsciously—picked up the seemingly harmless (albeit slightly annoying for those around us) habit of breathing thru the mouth. It may have started with something as innocuous as a sinus infection as a child. Or maybe it started later—perhaps while sleeping in a stuffy room at night. But if you want to live your best life possible, mouth-breathing is a habit worth breaking. There are many people who suffer from environmental allergies causing severe nasal congestion.
Here’s why: mouth-breathing has been linked to tooth decay, chronic inflammation, ear infections, allergies, food sensitivity, heartburn and GERD, snoring, disrupted sleep, and a host of health problems.
Over time, if you’re not breathing optimally, carbon dioxide builds up in the bloodstream and your body becomes oxygen-deprived. That oxygen deprivation affects every system in the body including the nervous system, digestive system, cardiovascular system, and immune system. In this state, your body cannot rejuvenate, detoxify, or create the energy that it needs to function properly. That’s how digestive disorders, brain fog, snoring, and other sleep disturbances develop. You may even end up keeping your partner up at night—which leads to a host of other stresses.
Not only does this mean your body cannot perform at its full capacity, but it leads to chronic—even deadly—health problems, including cardiac arrest.
Luckily, you now hold a key to achieving your optimal health: By breathing thru your nose, you can reverse the negative impacts of mouth-breathing.
Breathing through your nose, or nasal breathing, is essential in keeping the body healthy. It’s how your body was designed to work. The passages in your nose actually dehumidify the air you breathe in and help to trap allergens in the air, reducing the load on your immune system. Something else that happens when you breathe through your nose: You produce the nitric oxide that your body’s cells need to communicate. The end result is the reduction of inflammation and infections in your body. Your body can better detoxify and regenerate. You sleep more soundly. You feel more alert, mentally clear, more energetic, and suffer from less inflammation overall.
As nasal breathing becomes your new normal, and you add more healthy habits (such as regular exercise and dietary changes) you may even be able to stop taking prescription medications you’ve been on for years for inflammatory conditions such as arthritis or heartburn.
Switching from mouth-breathing back to nose breathing is one of the easiest and most important changes you can make for your overall health and well-being. Remember: When told to “just breathe,” make sure you’re breathing through your nose.
A dentist trained in sleep disordered breathing can help patients relearn how to breathe thru their nose. But first it is necessary to provide a patent nasal airway. It’s possible that a consultation with an ENT is necessary.