If you stop and think about it, are you more likely to breathe through your nose or your mouth? If you are being honest with yourself, you will probably answer ‘mouth’. No need to worry; that is the response for most people. But did you know, there are actually a significant number of benefits to breathing in and out only through your nose? Not kidding. Here are just a few:
Nasal Breathing Helps Fight Infections
When you breathe in through your nose, the air is mixed with a colorless gas called Nitric Oxide which kills deadly bacteria and works as a vasodilator (an agent that dilates or widens) on your airways, arteries, and capillaries. Essentially, breathing through your nose results in breathing in less infectious air and helps blood flow more freely through your body.
Nasal Breathing Helps in Better Brain Functions
The correlation between brain function and breathing has become a topic of interest for many individuals in the realm of neuroscience. Several studies have been conducted to determine if the way you breathe does in fact affect the way your brain functions. In a 2017 study conducted at Northwestern University, a team of scientists used electroencephalography (EEG) data from seven epilepsy patients to distinguish the differences in brain activity that occurred when patients breathed in through their nose versus their mouth.
The researchers found three areas of the brain that were affected during breathing – the piriform cortex (processes smells), the hippocampus (controls memory), and amygdala (controls fear and pleasure responses). These three areas of the brain showed major activity when the participants inhaled through their noses, but nothing changed when they breathed in through their mouths. Furthermore, research has shown that increased air intake through the right nostril is correlated with enhanced verbal performance (left brain activity), and increased inhalation through the left nostril is associated with increased spatial awareness (right brain activity).
Nasal Breathing Helps During Workouts
If you are like most exercisers, then you probably breathe through your mouth as the workout gets harder and you feel more fatigued. This is actually counterproductive and can result in an increased state of fatigue and stress. However, breathing through one’s nose can allow for more oxygen to get to active tissues. This is possible because breathing through the nose releases nitric oxide, which is needed to increase carbon dioxide in the blood, which then releases oxygen. Therefore, as you breathe through your nose, your cells are getting more oxygen, giving your body what it needs to better fight exhaustion.