Most of us, without a doubt, would not for one second dismiss the importance of correct nutrition, adequate rest and exercise in the maintenance of optimum health. But what about breathing?
Our breath can be one of the most overlooked facets of our health program, one of the most overlooked and one of the most important. It is no accident that the act that turned man from a pile of dust into a living soul was the breath of life from God. (Genesis 2:7).
- Every day, you take more than 17,000 breaths and inhale more than 8,500L of air;
- To keep the air of a crowded room pure, each person must receive 85 cubic metres of fresh air every hour;
- In most mammals, humans included, breathing is an involuntary action, however in dolphins this is a voluntary activity. Sorry Mr. Darwin;
Ensuring a good level of oxygenation in our bodies is vital for the good health of our bodies. Oxygen is required for:
- Release of energy at the cellular level, even anaerobic exercise will leave the athlete with an oxygen debt that needs to be repaid;
- Correct maintenance of cellular pH;
- Efficient elimination of waste products and toxins from the body.
In addition, Neil Nedley, in his book "Proof Positive" lists some of the following benefits for good oxygenation levels in the blood:
- Improved sense of well being;
- Increased rate and quality of growth in plants and animals;
- Improved function of the lung's protective cilia;
- Tranquillisation and relaxation (decreased anxiety);
- Lowered body temperature;
- Lowered resting heart rate;
- Decreased survival of bacteria and viruses in the air;
- Improved learning in mammals;
- Decreased severity of stomach ulcers.
Unfortunately, many of us do not breath correctly. The breathing reflex that we were born with somewhere along the line is forgotten and we replace it with a learned reflex for shallow breathing. Look at a baby lying on the floor and watch the way they breath, this is the ideal form of breathing we should emulate.
We know that much of today's chronic disease is caused by a combination of stress and an overly acid internal environment. Taking the time to relearn how to breathe is time well spent in equipping ourselves with another weapon to beat disease that directly tackles both these problems.
When we shallow breath we use the intercostal muscles of the ribs to expand and contract the ribcage. While this does allow some element of movement, the ribcage is designed which protection in mind. The best way to increase protection is to increase stability and reduce motion. The result of this is a breathing motion that inflates the chest cavity with a minor lift in shoulder height. Typically this gives us a mere 500mL gas exchange per breath.
Deep breathing by contrast engages the muscles of the abdomen and diaphragm to a much greater extent. This involves full expansion of the diaphragm and a feeling that we are breathing deep into the abdomen. This is the type of reflex seen when we let out a long sigh. Breathing in this fashion increases the amount of gas exchange by up to a factor of six.
This can most easily be demonstrated by an experiment.
Sit comfortably in a chair with your back straight. Now with one hand on the journal place the other hand on your abdomen just over the umbilicus. Now just breath and watch what happens with your hand.
If you're like most people your hand would hardly have moved, or maybe moved only after the chest cavity was already full. For deep breathing the abdomen extends first, inflating as far as it can before filling the chest cavity and finally the upper chest cavity through the shoulders.
The exhalation occurs in the opposite fashion, first emptying the upper chest cavity, chest and finally the abdomen.
Taking the time out just to breathe properly, at certain times throughout the day, will pay dividends in improving mood, reducing stress levels and in combating many of today's chronic diseases.
Marianne is a clinical nutritionist and massage therapist she is also in her last year of studying her Advanced Diploma of Naturopathy. Marianne has had a long involvement in the natural health field, having previously studied Health Science through Griffith University, in Brisbane. With Marianne's combined knowledge of both the structural and functional side of the human body she is well positioned to advise clients on a holistic approach to regaining well being that includes:
- Diet and nutrition;
- Herbal, vitamin and mineral supplementation;
- Exercise and body work.
Marianne makes extensive use of iridology and if necessary live blood analysis in her consultations. These combined assessment tools allow her to identify both areas of pre-existing weakness and a point in time assessment.
- Created on Wednesday, 02 December 2009 08:06