The Oxygen Advantage: The Simple, Scientifically Proven Breathing Techniques for a Healthier, Slimmer, Faster, and Fitter You by Patrick McKeown
This was one of those books I read through and continually thought to myself, why didn’t I learn this in college?
We talk a lot about oxygen, and carbon dioxide is left as a sort of exhaust. Turns out it is a very big part of the picture!
I hear the author originally on Bulletproof Radio, and he did a trick to open up the nasal passages. It worked for Dave Asprey, who had a little nasal congestion at the time, and I then at to try!
Here is the procedure described in his book:
Nose Unblocking Exercise • Take a small, silent breath in through your nose and a small, silent breath out through your nose. • Pinch your nose with your fingers to hold your breath. • Walk as many paces as possible with your breath held. Try to build up a medium to strong air shortage, without overdoing it. • When you resume breathing, do so only through your nose. Try to calm your breathing immediately. • After resuming your breathing, your first breath will probably be bigger than normal. Make sure that you calm your breathing as soon as possible by suppressing your second and third breaths. • You should be able to recover normal breathing within 2 or 3 breaths. If your breathing is erratic or heavier than usual, you have held your breath for too long. • Wait 1 or 2 minutes before repeating the breath hold. • In order to prepare yourself for the longer breath holds, go easy for the first few repetitions, increasing your paces each time. • Repeat for a total of 6 breath holds, creating a fairly strong need for air. Generally, this exercise will unblock the nose, even if you have a head cold. However, as soon as the effects of the breath hold wear off, the nose will likely feel blocked again. By gradually increasing the number of steps you can take with your breath held, you will find the results continue to improve. When you are able to walk a total of 80 paces with the breath held, your nose will remain decongested. Eighty paces is actually a very achievable goal, and you can expect to progress by an additional ten paces per week.
I have also used this on others, including my daughters, when they get a little stuffy nose from school germs.
He talks about using a BOLT score, a measurement of the time it takes your body to react to a lack of air, as a benchmark to an individuals carbon dioxide tolerance.
One of the most interesting pieces I picked up from this book was that CO2 is what triggers oxygen release to the cells. Further, the function of exhaling is to rid the body of CO2. So, those people who breathe heavily, are exhaling the very signal they need to release oxygen for utilization.
Carbon dioxide performs a number of vital functions in the human body, including: • Offloading of oxygen from the blood to be used by the cells. • The dilation of the smooth muscle in the walls of the airways and blood vessels • The regulation of blood pH.
He provides three steps to improve your breathing fitness and endurance:
- Stop Losses of Carbon Dioxide; breath through your nose day and night, stop sighing (swallow to suppress this desire) and avoid taking big breaths.
- Improve carbon dioxide tolerance. The trick above can help, and there are others included. I have videos of his trainings if you are interested
- Stimulate High-Altitude training. Basically reducing your breathing during exercise. I have done this and you can feel it working.
Another practice I deployed promptly after listening to the interview was taping my mouth shut at night; this helps with step 1 above. The first thought would be, “oh know I might suffocate”. I have used an app called Sleep Cycle for a while that records instances of snoring, so I could verify there were no out of breath situations from the tape. No discomfort noted at all, the body adapts and you become a much better nose breather, to the point where it is very obvious if I ever breathe through my mouth during the day.
Mouth breathing has been known for some time to be a sign of bad health. Functionally, mouth breathing was only used in times of need for high volumes of air, such as running away from a tiger. It is much more common now, and it can be tied to food and stress. Upper chest breathing (mouth breathing, you can see this on yourself or family member), is associated with stress, where nose breathing tends to be calming and thru the diaphragm.
Patrick points out that Weston A. Price noticed during his work in the early 1900s that as peoples oral health declined, mouth breathing was more common. The oral health decline he noticed was directly tied to modern processed foods, grains and sugar. These are acid and mucus forming foods. Overbreathing helps get rid of that acid.
Nasal breathing also helps form nitric oxide (involved in the first trick above) which causes blood vessel dilation/relaxation.
Below is a brief list of the functions of nasal breathing: • Nose breathing imposes approximately 50 percent more resistance to the airstream in normal individuals than does mouth breathing, resulting in 10 to 20 percent more O2 uptake. • Nasal breathing warms and humidifies incoming air. (Air entering the nose at 42.8˚F/6˚C will be warmed to 86˚F/30˚C by the time it touches the back of the throat, and a cozy 98.6˚F/37˚C—body temperature—upon reaching its final destination, the lungs.) • Nasal breathing removes a significant amount of germs and bacteria from the air you breathe in. • Nasal breathing during physical exercise allows for a work intensity great enough to produce an aerobic training effect as based on heart rate and percentage of VO2 max. • As discussed in the next section, the nose is a reservoir for nitric oxide, an essential gas for the maintenance of good health. Now compare the benefits above with the effects of mouth breathing: • Mouth-breathing children are at greater risk of developing forward head posture, and reduced respiratory strength. • Breathing through the mouth contributes to general dehydration (mouth breathing during sleep results in waking up with a dry mouth). • A dry mouth also increases acidification of the mouth and results in more dental cavities and gum disease. • Mouth breathing causes bad breath due to altered bacterial flora. • Breathing through the mouth has been proven to significantly increase the number of occurrences of snoring and obstructive sleep apnea.
This book has been a great resource. I have put many of these things into practice and noticed the difference immediately. Please reach out if you would like more info!
This Book Report collection is meant to provide some of the best take-home points from the health and science genre I read. I will continue to go thru my notes of the 160+ and counting (as of January 2019) Kindle books I have on file. To view ALL the notes I saved on this one AND many others without a Book Report post yet, THAT IS ALSO SEARCHABLE, please click here.