“In through the nose, out through the mouth” – that’s the old saying. But switching to exclusive nasal breathing has many advantages.
Pay attention to your breathing momentarily: are you breathing through your nose or mouth? If the latter, then you should switch to nasal breathing. Because that can bring several physical and mental health benefits, experts say. Studies show that nasal breathing can boost brain function, lower blood pressure and relieve stress and anxiety.
Mads Tömörkènyi is a scientist and founder of the fitness brand MT Performance from Denmark. He says, “The mouth is only for breathing when a cold or allergy narrows the nasal passage. Otherwise, it’s only for eating and talking. Nasal breathing, he says, can “change the muscle and tissue structure in the face, which ultimately makes you look more attractive.” “Mouth breathing overstimulates certain cheek muscles. This can make the face appear longer, make the eyes ‘lazier,’ or even change the shape of the nose.” Mouth breathing, which causes the airway to narrow, causes the lower jaw to be understimulated. It shrinks in size, as does the airway. The result of jaw shrinkage is overcrowded and crooked teeth. “The long-term adjustment of nasal breathing supports the muscles in the face, promoting the position of the jaw and the formation of straight teeth.”
British dentist Dr. Richard Marques said mouth breathing is “harmful to the teeth, gums and overall oral health.” “Excessive mouth breathing causes the mouth to dry out, which can lead to chronic bad breath. The gums are also affected by mouth breathing and can become severely red, swollen and irritated. This increases the risk of gum disease. Mouth breathing can also be a cause of tooth decay and sensitive teeth because of increased acidity in the mouth.”
Nasal breathing can also reduce anxiety and stress because it’s easier to slow down exhaling when it happens through the nose. It is physically more difficult to breathe slowly through the mouth. Breathing out slowly sends signals through the vagus nerve (the longest cranial nerve in the body that runs from the stomach to the brain). This triggers the parasympathetic nervous system, a network of nerves that relaxes the body after stress or danger by, for example, slowing the heart rate. As a result, we feel a calming effect.
The same activation of the parasympathetic nervous system through nasal breathing can also lower blood pressure. Simple breathing techniques like the “box method” have been shown to lower blood pressure when used regularly. In this method, you exhale to the count of four, hold your breath for four seconds, inhale in the same rhythm, and hold your breath for four seconds. In one study, participants who were instructed to practice nasal breathing for 10 minutes twice a day in addition to their usual medication were found to have a “statistically significant difference” in their blood pressure after just five days compared to those who did not.
When you breathe through your nose, your body releases nitric oxide. This molecule acts to open blood vessels. By opening blood vessels, especially in the lungs, nitric oxide allows for better oxygen circulation. This means more energy is delivered to the organs. Using brain imaging techniques, the University of Korea showed higher brain activation during a nasal breathing task than mouth breathing.
- source: heute.at/picture: Bild von PublicDomainPictures auf Pixabay
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