Updated: Nov 23, 2021
How you breathe can have such a huge impact on all aspects of your health.
It can impact how you feel, how you respond to life's stresses, how you sleep and how your body utilises oxygen.
Not only that the nose provides a vital first line of protection for every breath of air you take in - something that the mouth does not provide when breathing in through the mouth.
Benefits of nose breathing:
Protects upper airways
Nitric oxide provides anti-viral protection
More efficient gas exchange between oxygen and carbon dioxide
Stimulates diaphragmatic breathing
Slows breathing rate down for parasympathetic response
Relaxes and reduces feelings of stress and anxiety
When we look at the role and functions the nose provides when breathing its evident that it is designed as our primary 'inlet' for breathing. Sure we can breath through the mouth but that doesn't mean that we have to. A silly example I like to use it that you could in fact stick food up your nose and 'snort' it to the back of your throat and eat it - but your don't right? Hopefully not!
But it could be done, we just not its not the best or most efficient way to consume food. You miss out on the vital digestive processed that start in the mouth. The breaking down of the food as we chew and the saliva build up that initiates the start of the digestive process is lost or bypassed.
The same can be said if we don't use the nose to breathe. We would miss out on the protective properties that the nose provides to the air that we breathe in. It humidifies and purifies that air we take it and helps retain moisture from the air we exhale - protecting the upper air ways and lungs.
Not only that it provides nitric oxide (which is only found in the nasal cavity - not in the mouth) which helps to keep the nose unblocked, open up the upper aways (as a vasodilator) and helps to distribute the blood within the lungs more evenly to allow for more efficient gas exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide into and out of the blood stream.
The nose also helps to slow down our breathing and encourages activation of the diaphragm compared with mouth breathing which tend to be lead from the upper chest and results in a shallower faster breathing pattern. This fast, shallow, upper chest, mouth breathing is part of the sympathetic (fight, flight or freeze) stress response. Breathing in this way is often the result of feeling low levels of stress (not dealing with that stress) and a bad habit of breathing is created and become a vicious circles of breathing in this way creates a feeling a stress for the body and the cycle continues.
Nasal breathing on the other hand creates a more relax breathing pattern. The slowing down of the breathing rate, less air passing through the lungs helps to create an environment for a parasympathetic (rest, digest and relax) response.
Finally the connection between the nose and the diaphragm helps to facilitate diaphragmatic breathing which helps to stabilise the spine through intra-abdominal pressure helping reduce back pain through better functional movement.
"The mouth is for eating and the nose is for breathing"
Lets keep it that way!
Advanced Oxygen Advantage Instructor