Updated: May 8
On Air with Ella - episode 220
This is a regular feature where I share one thing that I'm loving, one thing I'm not, and one super simple yummy recipe.
Today’s "good" and "bad" are all about BREATHING - and how we’re doing it wrong. Yep, that’s right, breathing.
Think about this: the average person can live up to 3 weeks without food (not me), 3 days without water, and 3 minutes without oxygen. Personally, I have spent a lot of time and effort on food and water and very, very little of either on the number one element - the most integral to my immediate survival and arguably my long term health - my breathing.
In fact, I am very aware that a lot of times I am taking very shallow breaths, even pausing between breaths when I’m working intensely on something, or when I am stressed. I know that breathing is important, obviously. I also know that different breathing techniques can help me warm up, can wake me up, can calm me down, etc. But I had zero concept that breathing through my nose the majority of the time would be extremely beneficial to me, to my nervous health, my immune system, even to my posture?!
The book that started it all:
Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art - James Nestor
Though, I have to be honest, I enjoyed it much better as an audiobook. Use my link to get it free with a trial: www.audibletrial.com/onairwithella
Thanks to this book and to the rabbit hole it sent me down, today’s GOOD is the habit of nasal breathing. Sexy, right? But stick around, because this stuff is mind blowing.
Did you know, for example, that nasal breathing can reduce inflammation, increase oral health and - that’s right - benefit your posture. Here are 7 benefits of breathing through your nose as your default position. These come from actual experts, and you can read more here and here.
7 GREAT REASONS TO BREATHE THROUGH YOUR NOSE
Natural air filter: Air that is breathed directly into the lungs (through the mouth) is not filtered. The air you take in through your nose is filtered by tiny hairs (cilia) to remove germs and environmental debris. The cilia also warm the air that you have taken in before it travels to your lungs. Allergens, bacteria, viruses, etc. can be filtered out of the body through the inside of the nose. And, natural mucus collects potential contaminants where they are destroyed by nasal enzymes before they can enter the body and cause harm or make the body sick.
More moisture: Air inhaled through the nose is both warmed and moistened at the same time. This extra moisture reduces dehydration of the entire body, especially nasal tissues.
More oxygen: Breathing through your nose allows you to take deeper breaths – which engages the lower lungs. When the lower lungs become active, they pump out more oxygen to the rest of your body. More oxygen means more support your cells and maintains healthy tissue and organ function.
Reduce inflammation: Deeper breaths mean that oxygen is in your lungs longer, and your body can convert more oxygen to carbon dioxide waste. Reduction of carbon dioxide levels in the body helps to maintain your blood pH levels. When there is less carbon dioxide in the blood also means that your cells experience less stress and free radicals are reduced.
Calming effect: when the lower lungs are engaged a calming effect happens. This is because the lower lungs contain the parasympathetic (calming) nerve receptors of the body. When these nerves are activated, they tell the brain to send calming hormones to battle stress.
Facial structure: Breathing through a person’s nose helps the facial muscles and bones develop correctly and helps develop straight teeth. When the mouth is closed, the tongue is in the proper position to help the jaw grow correctly, and teeth emerge in the right places.
Better sleep, less snoring: Breathing through the nose lessens the chance of snoring, reduces sleep apnea by keeping the tongue in the correct place in the mouth, and supports a good night's sleep.
Mouth breathing! Not only is it not supporting the benefits of nasal breathing above, but it’s actually considered unhealthy - less optimal - according to many experts. In fact, they call it Mouth Breathing Syndrome (MBS)!
I am a mouth breather, so I already knew it wasn’t pretty, and now I know it’s not good. Here are 5 reasons why not (from the same experts referenced above):
When you breathe through your mouth, the body activates its stress nerves (sympathetic). When these nerves activate, they tell the brain to send the stress hormone cortisol and prepare for an “attack”. If you regularly breathe your mouth, your body is in chronic stress, leaving you with chronic, damaging inflammation.
Breathing through the nose protects a oral health. When a person constantly inhales through their mouth, gums and tongue dry out, which causes excess acids in the mouth. Extra oral acids cause the gums and teeth to decay faster. A moisturized mouth remains healthier over the long term.
Sleep apnea and diabetes are associated with mouth breathing, as is heart disease. Nitric oxide, through nasal breathing, regulates autonomic functions like heart rate, respiration, blood pressure, and digestion along with mood, sleep cycle, fluid balance, and reproduction.
Prolonged mouth breathing can lead to muscular and postural alterations, which may cause dento-skeletal changes. Consequently, the habit of breathing through the mouth alters the balance of facial muscles and causes facial skeletal changes.
Mouth breathers also chew with their mouths open and swallow air, leading to gas, bloating, flatulence, and burping. Ew.
EXERCISE: try breathing in through your nose for 5 to 6 seconds, then exhaling out of your mouth for the same amount of time. I am no expert, and there’s a lot more to learn here, but this is one thing to practice when you’re working, cleaning, going for a walk. You get the idea. Oh, and shut that mouth.
So you know how people are trying to make zucchini noodles replace pasta and some of us are NOT HAVING IT? I mean, don’t get me wrong. I love zoodles, but don’t you dare call that pasta. (I also love spaghetti squash as a noodle-y base with some kind of yummy sauce, but I am not ever going to confuse that with fettuccini alfredo. Like ever.)
But, I do not eat what we know as "regular" pasta (typically made with wheat flour). Not more than a few bites anyway, because it is NOT MY FRIEND. So while I can have food freedom all day, if I eat a big ole paste dish, someone needs to call a medic, because I will be UNWELL.
So with all of those qualifiers firmly in place, enter shirataki noodles.
Shirataki noodles are super filling because they’re high in glucomannan (GLUE ko muhnan), a very viscous fiber that comes from the root of the konjac plant. (The konjac is a japanese yam, and no I did not know that so now we’re both learning something.)
Konjac possesses very few digestible carbohydrates, but most of its carbs come from glucomannan fiber.
So Glucomannan is a natural, water-soluble dietary fiber extracted from the roots of the konjac. Because is has an exceptional ability to absorb water and is one of the most viscous dietary fibers known, it makes you feel really satiated. And while I couldn’t give a flying flip about counting calories, for those of you haven't heard of this before, it’s got a very low calorie load, so you can really load up on the sauces that you love for a nice balance.
WARNING: Shiratake noodles come in little packets of liquid and you must rinse them, because they do not smell good. The water they're packed in absorbs the odor of the konjac root and it's fishy-smelling. Just rinse them for a few minutes under running water before you heat them up and serve with pasta sauce, pesto, cream sauce, curry...or a bunch of sautéed veggies and some flavored oil ….mmmmm...whatever moves you!
Let me know what you think!
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