Since your nose was specifically designed to help you breathe, nasal breathing has many advantages. Patrick McKeown, author of The Oxygen Advantage, teaches the Buteyko Method to help people manage asthma, rhinitis, anxiety, insomnia and other ailments. His method suggests that nose breathing, primarily from the diaphragm, will benefit you by experiencing “easier breathing, deeper sleep, more energy, reduced asthma and nasal congestion along with increased feeling of calm.”
Nose breathing filters air
Your nose is designed to help you breathe safely and efficiently by filtering out foreign particles such as dust, allergens, and pollen, which helps prevent them from entering your lungs. Mucus and nose hairs also catch potentially harmful bacteria, protecting you from illnesses such as pneumonia.
Nose breathing regulates the nervous system
Breathing has a significant impact on the nervous system and the vagus nerve. When breathing correctly through your nose, the body naturally switches between breathing through the right and left nostrils – linked to the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems – this cycle occurs every four hours and plays a critical role in the balance of your biomarkers, hormones and even brain function. Breathing through the right nostril feeds more blood to the opposite side of the brain, specifically to the prefrontal cortex, which has been associated with logical decisions, language, and computing. Left-nostril breathing shifts blood flow to the opposite side of the prefrontal cortex, which plays a role in creative thought, emotions and formation of mental abstractions.
Nose breathing increases oxygen absorption
When you breathe through your nose, the nostrils regulate how much air can enter your lungs. Additionally, because air exits your lungs more slowly through your nose when you exhale, they have more time to extract oxygen from it. The nostrils also produce nitric oxide, a vasodilator, which helps to widen blood vessels and improve oxygen circulation in your body, further increasing the lungs’ ability to absorb oxygen.
Nose breathing protects the lungs and airways
One of the primary benefits of nose breathing is that the turbinates in your nose warm and humidify inhaled air, ensuring that it does not damage the airway or the lungs. Alternatively, breathing in dry, cold air – as happens when we mouth breathe – can irritate the airway and lungs, leading to wheezing, coughing and shortness of breath.
Nose breathing improves physical and cognitive performance
As mentioned earlier, nose breathing increases the body’s production of nitric oxide. Among other things, nitric oxide lowers blood pressure, boosts the immune system, improves exercise performance, increases brain function, fights erectile dysfunction and many other health-related issues associated with blood flow.
Nose breathing promotes superior oral health
Saliva continually washes away bacteria and keeps the protective membranes healthy inside our mouths. However, when you mouth breathe, that saliva dries up, leaving your teeth and gums susceptible to bacteria. The proliferation of these harmful bacteria can kill the oral microbiome, leading to gingivitis, periodontitis, receding gums, cavities, oral decay and halitosis.
Nose breathing prevents nasal congestion
Although it seems intuitive to think that a stuffy nose causes mouth breathing, it’s actually the other way around in most cases. Mouth breathing encourages over-breathing which results in production of mucus, in an effort to slow the rate of breathing rebalance your O2-CO2 levels.
Nose breathing improves athletic performance
Nose breathing during exercise can improve your performance by enabling your lungs to extract as much oxygen as possible from the air you inhale, this in turn lowers your heart rate. In addition, nose breathing helps you to recover quicker by slowing down your breathing and heart rate.