Did you know there is a “shortcut” to the way it is inhaled? However, when you breathe, especially inhale, through your mouth rather than your nose, it does more harm than you think.
“The airways and lungs need 100 percent humidity and warm air to function, which is enabled by the nose, whose structure is rich in vessels to ensure this,” explains Dr. Fabrizio Facchini, consultant in the pulmonology department at Medcare Hospital. in Dubai.
On the other hand, mouth breathing sends dry air into the lungs and can lead to bronchospasm and a dry layer of mucus covering the airways.
The ‘right’ way to breathe
Indian yoga instructor Marcellene Azavedo, who trained with Yoga institute and now lives in Dubai, describes breathing as “our only companion in life” and forever reminds his students that “the mouth is meant for eating and speaking, while the nose, and only the nose, is for breathing”.
Azavedo cites the example of babies and children, most of whom breathe through their stomachs and noses during deep sleep. “That’s because stress doesn’t exist for them,” she says, “whereas imbalances and stress can cause adults to breathe improperly, which then leads to various illnesses.”
Proper breathing also improves posture because the diaphragm is connected to the spine
Stefany Alvarez, hypopressure breathing instructor
Improved breathing means that more oxygen reaches the lungs, increasing their capacity, which in turn makes you more active and energetic day after day.
“For example, athletes have superior lung capacity,” notes Dr. Olga Vartzioti, a pulmonary specialist at King’s College Hospital London-Dubai. “They use breathing techniques to optimize oxygen intake, which helps them perform at their peak.”
Stefany Alvarez, hypopressure breathing instructor and fitness trainer from Uruguay, says proper breathing techniques bring both physical and mental benefits. “This leads to improvements in our cardiovascular system and also improves posture because the diaphragm is connected to the spine,” she explains. Proper breathing can also help postpartum women regain strength in their pelvic floor and core muscles, she says.
“But apart from these physical benefits, breathing is connected to our nervous system, so it plays a big role in controlling anxiety,” adds Alvarez.
Indonesian-American yoga instructor Yvette Megchiani agrees. “For people who are active during the day, sometimes just listening to their breath can put them to sleep, especially when they consciously regulate each inhale and exhale,” says Megchiani, who lives in Dubai. This is why most meditation songs also encourage listeners to take deep breaths to calm down, switch off, or even reach a euphoric trance-like state.
As James Nester writes in his bestseller Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art: “The tens of billions of molecules we take into our bodies with every breath… affect almost every internal organ, telling them when to turn on and off. They affect heart rate, digestion, mood, attitudes, when we feel excited and when we feel nauseous.
“No matter what we eat, how much we exercise, how resilient our genes are, how thin, young or wise we are, none of it will matter unless we breathe properly.
“The missing pillar of health is breath. It all starts there.”
Impact of climate change on breathing
Proper breathing has also never been more important than it is current climate.
September study in European Respiratory Journal reported that the climate crisis poses the greatest risk to people with respiratory diseases, with high temperatures and changing weather conditions exacerbating the health problems of lung diseases. Meanwhile, the United Nations said Thursday that the amount of dust in the world’s air worsened last year.
Higher temperatures can increase the concentration of particles in the air, which can worsen respiratory conditions
Dr Olga Vartzioti, pulmonologist, King’s College Hospital London – Dubai
The respiratory system, along with the skin and eyes, are direct points of contact between man and the environment, says Dr. Facchini. “So when we breathe, we bring the outside environment into us,” he explains, adding that through this process germs from dusty and polluted weather are transferred to humans.
“Climate change may increase the prevalence of allergens, thus prolonging allergy seasons with prolonged periods of air stagnation and increased air pollution, especially in urban areas,” says Dr. Vartzioti.
“Higher temperatures can increase ground-level ozone and particulate matter concentrations in the air, all of which can worsen respiratory conditions and pose a greater risk to individuals with pre-existing respiratory problems,” she adds.
The high temperatures also mean that people are staying indoors for longer to escape the extreme heat and dusty weather. However, this too can compromise the efficiency of human breathing and create other health problems, “especially if we expose our system to vape, cigarette or bakhour smoke,” says Dr. Facchini.
To reduce the impact of indoor air pollution, adults, who usually breathe between 12 and 20 per minute, should ensure adequate ventilation, especially during cooking; regularly clean air conditioning ducts; and avoid smoking or vaping indoors.
Updated: October 20, 2023 at 7:05 am