Breathing is essential to life, but we rarely think about it. Because it’s automatic, we don’t have to focus on breathing like we do eating or exercising.
Or do we?
Of course, our friends in the East know the benefits of deep breathing. Chinese, Tibetan and other traditional healing systems have long recognized the relationship between breathing and overall wellness. The process of deep breathing, and especially meditative breathing, allows us to receive nourishment as oxygen and helps release our physical, mental and emotional burdens.
The Value of Deep Breathing
When we’re very hungry, we need to eat more. By the same token, when our bodies are deprived of oxygen, we need to breathe deeply. This is most evident after intense exertion, say a short sprint.
But deep breathing shouldn’t be reserved only for exercise. When we don’t inhale deeply enough, we decrease the amount of oxygen to our cells, reducing their ability to produce energy. In addition, deep breathing removes more carbon dioxide and other potential toxins. Respiration also balances our body’s pH, reducing the acidity that can impact immunity and other critical functions.
Deep breathing also helps the heart. Reduced blood oxygen forces the heart to pump more; increased oxygen has the opposite effect. In addition, deep breathing can reduce oxidative stress, enhance vital energy and support cognitive function.
Normally, we breathe in about half a liter or two cups of air. But our lung capacity is much larger. For a real deep breath, we can take in about three liters. We seem to have fallen into a rut of shallow breathing. How do we break out of it?
One of the keys is to engage the diaphragm, the muscle between the chest and the abdomen. All too often, we breathe short, shallow breaths with our abdomen. By working to engage our diaphragm instead, we can take in more air. Also, don’t exhale too quickly. Give your body time to exchange oxygen for carbon dioxide, then exhale.
How we breathe is also important. Inhaling through the nostrils warms and moisturizes the air and filters out bacteria, viruses, dust and other foreign objects. The nose pre-processes air for our lungs, which can reduce allergies and other respiratory ailments. Switching from mouth to nasal breathing can also help people suffering from sleep apnea.
Supporting Lung Health
A number of botanicals, nutrients and foods can support lung health in today’s over-polluted world:
- The mushroom cordyceps supports respiratory immunity and oxygen utilization.
- Vitamin D3 is a critical supplement for respiratory and immune health.
- Because of their immune-enhancing and anti-inflammatory benefits, probiotics are shown to support respiratory function and overall lung health.
- Vitamins A, C and E have been shown to offer some lung protection in studies.
Deep, Restful Sleep
Restful sleep is critical for all areas of health, and depends partly on our ability to breathe deeply during sleep cycles. That’s why ecoSleep® formula contains ingredients that work beyond promoting relaxation and deep sleep. ecoSleep® also contains unique Chinese herbs and botanicals that promote respiratory health, cardiovascular wellness and more, to enhance our natural processes of rejuvenation and repair during sleep.*
If we think of oxygen as a key nutrient, the way we think of vitamin C or protein, we will naturally want to inhale as much fresh, clean air as possible. Given the benefits to immunity, brain health, cardiovascular function, metabolism, cellular energy, and overall rejuvenation, it just makes sense to breathe deeply.