The answer to this question is critical to understanding and later experiencing the health benefits of nasal breathing.
Our nose is a complex organ. It serves to do the following when we breathe:
- The air is filtered by our nose hairs as we inhale
- The air is warmed by the nose so that by the time it reaches our bronchial tubes it has a very high humidity
- The turbinate bones in our nose extract any matter that is in the air we inhale and it is trapped on the sticky lining of the walls of our nasal passages
- The sinuses adjacent to our nasal cavity produce nitric oxide, which, according to Dr Mercola, has many benefits including helping to neutralize germs and bacteria. It also dilates and relaxes our bronchial passageways improving the passage of air into our lungs
- The extra resistance that the nose provides is important in regulating our breathing
- Nose breathing keeps our mouth moist and conserves water vapor otherwise lost through mouth breathing
- Keeping our mouth closed enables our tongue to rest against the roof of the mouth and allows formation of the natural arch around the mouth
Conversely mouth breathing will:
- allow unfiltered air being inhaled by our lungs
- result in cold air being inhaled. This will dry out the airways and will hinder the effectiveness of the debris in our lungs being removed. The tiny hair-like projections from the surface of our airways serve to move sticky mucus in moving any debris from our lungs. But it can only do so if a humid environment exists. Otherwise the debris must be coughed up.
- allow foreign matter which would otherwise be trapped by the turbinate bones to enter our lungs
- promote conditions conducive to bronchitis by allowing germs and bacteria to enter our lungs. It can have a constricting effect upon our bronchial passageways making breathing more difficult
- make it easier to hyperventilate with a resultant effect of deregulating our breathing
- dry out our gums and increase the acidity in our mouth thereby promoting cavities and gum disease. We can readily see the amount of water vapour by observing mist breathed on a mirror. Imagine the vapour loss during the course of a normal day inhaling and exhaling more than 20,000 times!
- prevent the tongue and lips forming the natural arch around the mouth and result in teeth growing out of alignment. This can affect the shape and aesthetics of the entire face. In my book I feature “before” and “after” photographs over a nine month period. The shape of my face narrowed significantly over that period through nasal breathing.
Dr Buteyko, when asked how often we should breathe through our mouth, said “You should breathe through your mouth as often as you eat through your nose”.
Please view this excellent video presented by Dr Marc Mueller, an Ear Nose and Throat Surgeon on the health benefits of nose breathing – https://www.youtube.com/watch?x-yt-ts=1421914688&v=ZUKyR6-Q3zE&x-yt-cl=84503534&feature=player_embedded#t=0
At approximately the 3.30 minute mark of the video the point is made that for the blood cells to extract oxygen it is essential for the inhaled air to be humid.
I wish to acknowledge the article by Dr Mercola http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/11/24/buteyko-breathing-method.aspx in assisting me to publish this post.
But why does our breathing need to be regulated and why is hyperventilation something we should avoid at all costs? These are issues for discussion in another post.