Stop Breathing Through Your Mouth Immediately

Your breath is one of the most powerful tools you have for controlling your mood, physical performance, and mental powers.

Manipulating breath for meditation, yoga, endurance, stress relief, religious experiences: all of these have been practiced by ancient cultures for millennia.

But did you know that you can improve your cognitive function and physical performance just by changing your breath?

It’s as simple as breathing through your nose instead of your mouth.

This might seem pointless. I mean, how could there possibly be any difference? The air is going into your lungs either way, right?

Well, that’s where you’re wrong, kiddo. There’s actually some insane data behind this.

It turns out that calling someone a “mouth breather” to imply that they’re stupid, may actually be true.

Let’s take a look at it.

What the Science Says About Mouth Breathing

I’m kinda blown away at how much scientific research has been done on breathing through your nose versus breathing through your mouth.

In a systematic review--which is where scientists look at a collection of studies--the researchers found that 80% of the studies showed mouth breathers have a higher incidence of learning disabilities than people who breathe through their nose.

In fact, people were aware of this 100 years ago.

There’s a quote from journalist and psychologist H. Addington Bruce where he says, “Mouth-breathing means difficulty breathing, and this, in turn, means deficient oxygenation of the tissues, with a resultant lowering of vital activities generally and of the activity of the brain in particular.”

Another author, George Catlin, said in his 1869 book Shut Your Mouth and Save Your Life, that, “There is no perfect sleep for man or brute, with the mouth open; it is unnatural, and a strain upon the lungs.”

Benefits of Breathing Through Your Nose

So what so beneficial about breathing through your nose?

What exactly is happening and why is it so much better than breathing through your mouth?

Filters the Air

Your nose acts as a filter for the air passing through it. You have hair follicles and mucous membranes that trap bacteria and dust before it gets to your lungs.

Warms and Moistens the Air

Another benefit is that your nose gets the air ready for your lungs. As the air passes through your nasal cavities it gets warmer and collects moisture from your body, making it perfect for lungs.

Boosts Nitric Oxide

You may not realize it, but breathing through your nose also increases levels of nitric oxide.

Nitric oxide is a crucial signaling compound for cardiovascular health, cell growth, and neurotransmission.

Most Important: Regulates Airflow

Breathing through your nose slows down the air going into your lungs. This is a very, very good thing because it prevents “over breathing.”

What is Over Breathing?

Yes, you can actually over breathe, especially if you breathe through your mouth.

Have you ever seen someone hyperventilate? That’s over breathing.

However, over breathing is not about breathing in too much oxygen.

Your red blood cells typically have oxygenation levels around 95% to 99%. This is plenty of oxygen for even the hardest and longest training session.

Over breathing is about exhaling too much carbon dioxide.

If you don’t know, carbon dioxide, or CO2, is the air that you exhale.

If you breathe too much--like when you hyperventilate--you reduce the amount of CO2 in your blood.

This is called hypocapnia.

When people hyperventilate, they often will breathe into a bag.

The bag traps the CO2 they exhale and allows them to replenish their CO2 levels.

Why Your Brain, Muscles, and Blood Need Carbon Dioxide

Okay, but why do we need CO2? What does it do?

The reason is because of your blood.

Red blood cells transport oxygen from your lungs to your muscles, tissues, and brain.

The oxygen “sticks” to a protein in your red blood cells called hemoglobin. Your blood cells carry the oxygen around and unload it wherever it is needed.

However, in order to “unload” the oxygen, your blood needs sufficient CO2 levels.

When CO2 levels are high, your red blood cells start dumping oxygen into your tissues.

When CO2 levels are low, all that oxygen you breath in will stick to your red blood cells.

So here’s where that mouth breathing can hurt you: if you’re sucking in air through your mouth and exhaling it quickly through your mouth, you deplete your CO2 levels.

This means your tissues will not get as much oxygen because your blood cells are holding onto it waiting for CO2 levels to rise.

Remember the paper bag and hyperventilating? It helps your blood replenish CO2 so your tissues and brain get more oxygen.

Why Mouth Breathing is Killing Your Brain

But here’s where the insult “mouth breather” actually starts to gain credibility.

If your body does not have enough CO2, it causes the arteries leading to the brain to constrict. This lowers blood flow to your brain.

This effect is so sensitive than even a 2.5% drop in CO2 concentrations can lead to a 2% drop in blood flow to the brain.

While you won’t notice this in everyday life, over time this can have an effect on your brain function.

Real Life Examples

Do you know what an ultramarathon is?

A normal marathon is just over 26 miles.

An ultramarathon can be as long as 100 miles.

That’s fucking crazy.

One of the most successful ultramarathon runners is this guy named Scott Jurek. He’s won tons of different ultramarathon competitions.

He wrote a memoir called Eat and Run. In it he says this, “One of the most important things you can do…is to breathe abdominally, and a good way to learn that skill is to practice nasal breathing.”

There are also a few indigenous tribes in the Amazon that run up to 62 miles per day.

They hunt wild animals by simply outlasting them. The animals collapse from exhaustion and the hunters can kill them easily.

These tribesmen breath exclusively through their nose in order to allow for proper carbon dioxide and oxygen balance in their blood.

So the next time you train, try to be conscious of how you’re breathing. Experiment with this.

See if you notice any benefits from breathing through your nose instead of your mouth.

Remember, long, slow deep breaths through the nose is better than sucking in air through your mouth.

That’s all for now.

Live like a lion.

- Mike Rashid King

 

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