On Dr Michael Mosley’s podcast Just One Thing, he recommended people switch from mouth to nose breathing.
“Breathing through your nose really can improve your lung function, your blood vessels, even your spatial awareness, and it can protect you against disease,” said Dr Mosley.
“Nose breathing could be one of the simplest things you can do to improve your health and wellbeing.”
Citing a recent study, Dr Mosley elaborated on how nose breathing has been linked to better brain health.
“Twenty-two volunteers were given a memory test while they were in a brain scanner,” he began.
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“When they were breathing through their noses they performed better and the scans revealed their brains were working more efficiently than when they were mouth breathing.”
Another research study, highlighted on his podcast, revealed how nose breathing could improve spatial awareness.
Dr Mosley said: “Scientists in Israel tested volunteers’ ability to mentally manipulate 3D shapes while measuring their brain waves and how they breathe.
“Researchers noticed that whenever participants inhaled through their nose, brain activity related to that task increased and they performed the task more accurately.”
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As to why nose breathing could be so beneficial to your health, Dr Mosley has a theory.
“It may be because nose breathing boosts levels of nitric oxide, which in turn increases blood flow to the lungs, raising oxygen levels in your blood,” he said.
Dr Mosley pointed out that Professor John Lundberg of the Karolinska Institute in Sweden first discovered that your nasal cavities produce nitric oxide. He offered his expertise on the podcast episode.
Nitric oxide, Professor Lundberg said, “is generated in our bodies with the main function of regulating cardiovascular function”.
He explained: “So it dilates blood vessels, makes the blood flow easier, and it reduces blood pressure.”
High concentrations of nitric oxide can also play a part in the immune system that can kill bacteria and viruses.
Chronic mouth breathing, on the other hand, is linked to a dry mouth, tooth decay and inflamed gums.
Professor Lundberg concluded: “Try to be aware of it and start breathing through your nose, that’s my advice.”
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