Correct breathing has physical and mental health benefits. Often dismissed as something you only do in yoga classes, breathing techniques are highly underrated. This is especially considering the fact that when it comes to fitness, the one thing that’s discussed at length is nutrition.
Ayurveda has always stressed on the importance of breathing right. Of late, however, more researchers have been looking into the effect of breathing techniques for health. This is because improper breathing might adversely affect your health.
Improper Breathing Causes Health Disorders
Normal breathing is through the nose, silent, smooth, and almost invisible. But most people have improper breathing habits. And, although it is generally used as an insult, mouth breathing is a legitimate problem. It has a negative effect on facial and dental development, particularly in kids. Specifically, it leads to the development of long, narrow faces, narrow mouths, high palatal vaults, dental malocclusion, gummy smiles, and many other unattractive facial features. Symptoms of mouth breathing include:
- Noisy, visible breathing
- Frequent night waking
- Dry mouth
- Dry, cracked lips
- Night sweating
- Daytime fatigue
- Behavioral issues (in children)
- Bad breath
- Poor asthma control
If you have a persistent blocked nose that you tend to chalk up to “allergies” then you might be breathing through your mouth.1 2 3 Hence, breathing is just as important as nutrition for proper growth and development of children as well as managing asthma, bad breath, and allergies. However, there are other conditions that depend on both, proper breathing and nutrition.
Breathing And Nutrition Work Hand In Hand
Although it might seem inconsequential, paying attention to your breathing might bring with it a host of benefits. This is because your well-being requires both good nutrition and breathing.
1. To Improve Autonomic Functions
Anti-inflammatory foods prevent disorders in the autonomic system.4 However, proper breathing has a positive effect on heart rate, digestion, respiratory rate, pupillary response, urination, and sexual arousal.5 Hence, it’s important to pay attention to both to stay healthy.
2. To Relieve Stress And Anxiety
While nutritional supplements as well as abstinence from caffeine and alcohol can relieve stress and anxiety,6 research also indicates that breathing techniques, especially meditation that focuses on the breath, relieves stress and anxiety. It might also treat post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and stress-related medical illnesses.7
3. To Improve Symptoms Of Bronchial Asthma
4. To Reduce Muscle Fatigue
A good balance of macro- and micronutrients is suggested to improve muscle function.10 And, during exercise, the breathing technique is important to supply oxygen to the muscles. Improper breathing causes insufficient supply of oxygen to muscles, resulting in the production of lactic acid. This in turn causes weak, painful, and tired muscles.11
5. To Improve Digestion
Not just probiotics and fiber,12 proper breathing techniques might also aid digestion. In fact, breathing techniques are used to improve lung function and digestion in people with genetically inherited cystic fibrosis.13 However, there isn’t enough research yet to substantiate breathing’s effects on digestion.
6. To Enhance Immune Function
Correct breathing techniques might also improve immunity just like nutrition does.14 In martial arts, it is believed that breathing right activates “Ki energy,” which improves overall health.15 Breathing right might seem like a difficult task but a simple exercise can help you get there.
Learn To Breathe Right With These Simple Breathing Exercises
Breathing exercises will help you improve your breathing technique.16 Here are two simple breathing exercises
- Deep Breathing: Sit comfortably, pull your elbows back firmly, and inhale deeply. Hold your breath for 5 counts. Exhale slowly and completely. Repeat this for 5 minutes.
- Diaphragm Breathing: Lie on your back with your knees bent. Place your fingers on your belly just below your rib cage. As you inhale deeply, your belly and lower ribs should rise as your chest remains (fairly) still. Inhale for 3 counts and exhale for 6 counts.
Focusing on your breathing might not be as popular as focusing on your nutrition anytime soon. However, remember that it is just as important. Focusing on your breathing and practicing correct breathing techniques regularly will help you improve your overall health.
|↑1||Jefferson, Yosh. “Mouth breathing: adverse effects on facial growth, health, academics, and behavior.” Gen Dent 58, no. 1 (2010): 18-25.|
|↑2||Page, David C., and Derek Mahony. “The airway, breathing and orthodontics.” Científica del Sur (2010): 14.|
|↑3||Motta, Lara Jansiski, Joanna Carolina Bachiega, Carolina Cardoso Guedes, Lorena Tristão Laranja, and Sandra Kalil Bussadori. “Association between halitosis and mouth breathing in children.” Clinics 66, no. 6 (2011): 939-942.|
|↑4||Luyer, Misha DP, Quirine Habes, Richard van Hak, and Wim Buurman. “Nutritional stimulation of the autonomic nervous system.” World Journal of Gastroenterology: WJG 17, no. 34 (2011): 3859.|
|↑5||Sengupta, Pallav. “Health impacts of yoga and pranayama: A state-of-the-art review.” International journal of preventive medicine 3, no. 7 (2012): 444.|
|↑6||Lakhan, Shaheen E., and Karen F. Vieira. “Nutritional and herbal supplements for anxiety and anxiety-related disorders: systematic review.” Nutrition Journal 9, no. 1 (2010): 42.|
|↑7||Zope, Sameer A., and Rakesh A. Zope. “Sudarshan kriya yoga: Breathing for health.” International journal of yoga 6, no. 1 (2013): 4.|
|↑8||Lv, Nan, Lan Xiao, and Jun Ma. “Dietary pattern and asthma: a systematic review and meta-analysis.” Journal of asthma and allergy 7 (2014): 105.|
|↑9||Saxena, Tarun, and Manjari Saxena. “The effect of various breathing exercises (pranayama) in patients with bronchial asthma of mild to moderate severity.” International journal of yoga 2, no. 1 (2009): 22.|
|↑10||Aoi, Wataru, Yuji Naito, and Toshikazu Yoshikawa. “Exercise and functional foods.” Nutrition journal 5, no. 1 (2006): 15.|
|↑11||Hepple, Russell T. “The role of O2 supply in muscle fatigue.” Canadian journal of applied physiology 27, no. 1 (2002): 56-69.|
|↑12||Keeping Your Gut in Check. US Department Of Health And Human Sciences.|
|↑13||How Is Cystic Fibrosis Treated? US Department Of Health And Human Sciences.|
|↑14||Lundberg, Jon O. “Nitric oxide and the paranasal sinuses.” The Anatomical Record 291, no. 11 (2008): 1479-1484.|
|↑15||Ohnishi, Tsuyoshi, and Tomoko Ohnishi. “The Nishino breathing method and ki-energy (life-energy): A challenge to traditional scientific thinking.” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine 3, no. 2 (2006): 191-200.|
|↑16||Relaxation and Controlled Breathing Exercises. Tompkins County, New York.|