Some biohacks can be expensive. Most of them work on mechanisms that are free, but breathing just might be the biggest and best magic bullet we have today. In this episode of Bulletproof Radio, I talk to returning guest Patrick McKeown about why. And why he wants everyone to be a nose breather.
Patrick’s one of the world’s leading breathing re-education experts who’s been immersed in the research of breathing for more than two decades. He’s bringing the benefits of that research to people around the world. He’s written numerous books on the topic and talked about the importance of oxygen on a previous podcast, “How to Breathe Less to Do More.”
“I just feel that breathing has been too left of field and it hasn’t been put out there properly,” Patrick says. “This is something we have to start taking seriously.”
Around 20 percent of the general population has dysfunctional breathing, but if you have lower back pain, anxiety or asthma, that percentage goes way up. Why’s that important? The way you breathe has a huge impact on your quality of life, changing how you deal with stress, your sleeping habits, the way you exercise and so much more. This goes for kids and adults alike.
Patrick explains breathing in three ways: biochemical, biomechanics and psychological. Breathing function or dysfunction dramatically affects focus and concentration; brain function; blood pressure; respiratory health; sex; female hormones; blood sugar; and even pain.
“We’re talking about basic physiology that can influence all of the major disciplines of medicine, dental health, movement, mental health, sleep, respiration,” Patrick says. “And these are significant. And I think there is a role for breathing and in time, breathing will be embraced in medicine.”
In his new book, “THE BREATHING CURE: Develop New Habits for a Healthier, Happier, and Longer Life,” Patrick walks you through tips and strategies to breathe light, slow and deep. His breathing exercises improve blood chemistry and increase oxygen flow to all your body’s systems, overall improving the function of your body’s nervous system. He uses fast, simple, scientific methods.
Here’s what happens when you learn how to breathe differently:
- you increase oxygen uptake and delivery to the cells, improving blood circulation, and unblocking the nose.
- you open the airways of your lungs, boost blood flow and oxygen delivery to the brain, improve sleep and calm your mind.
- you restore body functions wrecked by stress, build greater resilience, and live longer.
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Follow Along with the Transcript
Shut Your Mouth! Nose Breathing Improves All Your Body Systems – Patrick McKeown with Dave Asprey – #835
Website / Oxygen Advantage: oxygenadvantage.com
Website / Buteyko Clinic: buteykoclinic.com
Book: “THE BREATHING CURE: Develop New Habits for a Healthier, Happier, and Longer Life” (via Amazon or Oxygen Clinic or Buteyko Clinic)
Bulletproof Radio: How to Breathe Less to Do More with Patrick McKeown, King of Oxygen – #434
- We have it on the show one of the world’s leading breathing re-education experts. Patrick, welcome back to the show. – 2:13
- When I came across the importance of nose breathing, I started using the nose and blocking exercise. It worked. So I knew there was something in it. – 4:55
- 50% of the adult population wake up with a dry mouth in the morning. And if you wake up with a dry mouth, you’re not waking up feeling refreshed. -6:10
- I’m working now with elite police forces, Swash, Navy SEALs, Air Forces, Olympians and when you see high performance individuals taking it on board, there’s something in it. – 8:45
- How much do you think food matters versus breathing matters? Do you have to get the food right for the breathing to work? Do you have to get the breathing right based on what you eat? How correlated or connected are they? – 13:36
- If you want to influence the autonomic nervous system, it’s all in the exhalation. If we have a fast and sharp exhalation, we activate a stress response. And if we have a slow and prolonged exhalation, we activate the body’s relaxation response. – 15:21
- And then we ask, is it a stress or exercise or is it a relaxer? And you can pretty much put every breathing exercise into those little box. It’s not just about the breathing on the mouth, it’s about the breathing, the person when they leave the studio everyday breathing patterns. – 18:01
- We can train the mind, that’s the filter through which all of life’s perceptions we analyze. And it’s very important to know how the mind works. And what I’m going to say is mindfulness does not work for the very group of people who need it the most. – 21:16
- What is the effect of wearing a mask on your breathing? And I’m not looking to be pro or anti masters, what does it do in those four things around biomechanics? – 23:06
- Take 10 minutes twice a day or 20 minute twice daily and pay attention to your breathing. And you could choose a good average of six breaths per minute, breathing in for five seconds and breathing out for five seconds. And this helps to strengthen the bar reflex, which is a very important function within the autonomic nervous system. – 27:21
- I was teaching the biochemistry for 15 years, and then I realized, oh my God, I’m stuck in this tunnel vision. I really have to start broadening here because the breath is deeper than just one dimension. – 29:50
- When you’re talking about breathing light, can you demonstrate that? What is breathing light? What does that look like? – 30:01
- Just by focusing on the area just inside the nostrils and deliberately slowing down the speed of the breath. And by doing that, by having a really soft breath in and a relaxed and a slow and gentle exhalation, the objective is to breathe less air. – 31:18
- Carbon dioxide is not just this bad guy that’s out there. It’s not just this waste gas that you read in every newspaper, in magazine and everything else. Let’s look at the functions of carbon dioxide. – 31:43
- What I really want to do is improving functional breathing patterns. And this of course can be assessed by using a simple tool called the BOLT score, your breath hold time. – 33:15
- Take a normal breath in and out through your nose and you pinch your nose with your fingers and you time it. How long does it take until you feel the first definite desire to breathe or the first involuntary movement of your breathing muscles? – 33:40
- Very soft, gentle breath in to your nose, and a relaxed and slow gentle breath out and have optimal movement of the diaphragm. You don’t have to take a big breath to breathe low. And I think that’s a mistake that people make. – 41:13
- LSD – light, then breathing deep and then you got breathing slow. And so what you showed us earlier with the breathing light, we were almost by definition because it’s light. It’s going to have to be slow, otherwise it’s not going to be light and it didn’t have to be deep, but it probably would be deep. – 42:52
- What is different for breathing with women? How does breathing shift over the course of a typical month? Does it change at perimenopause? Does it change in menopause? – 43:32
- The whole thing about sleep medicine is that the focus has been on the anatomy on the airway but no engineer is going to look at a pipe without considering flow. Sleep medicine has ignored the breathing component and sleep disorder breathing. – 48:21
- An American researcher called Karen Bonuck, looked at 11,000 children in Stratford upon Avon in the United Kingdom, children with sleep disorder breathing, which includes snoring, if it was untreated by age five, these kids had a 40% increased risk of special education needs by age eight. – 50:09
- The respiratory rate with nasal breathing was 39 breaths per minute, with mouth breathing it was 49. The fraction of expired oxygen was less with nasal breathing. In other words, their body was utilizing oxygen better. – 55:20
- Sniffing out danger is a term that we often hear. Like what is it? Sniffing out danger, the nose is performing more functions than we give it credit for. And one doctor back in the 70s said it performed 30 functions. – 57:07
- We’re talking about basic physiology that can influence all of the major disciplines of medicine, dental health, movement, mental health, sleep, respiration. And these are significant. And I think there is a role for breathing and in time, breathing will be embraced in medicine. I really think it’s going to happen. It may not be driven by the profession, but it would be driven by doctors individually. And then it will happen. – 1:07:05
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