Humans take air in and let it out, or breathe, 25,000 times a day. Breathing is a key input of our health.

The 30 pounds of air that passes through our lungs every day and the 1.7 pounds of oxygen our cells consume are as important as what we eat or how much we exercise.

James Nestor has written a fascinating book “Breath” on how important breathing and how we breathe is to our health. He refers to breathing as a “missing pillar of our health.” This book studies the science of breathing and proves to us scientifically how the way we breathe can improve our health.

We can breathe through our mouth or our nose or both. This book claims 90% of us breathe incorrectly or wrong and 50% of us are habitual mouth breathers. Our bodies are structured to breathe through our noses with our mouths as a backup method of breathing. Breathing through our nose cleans the air, moistens and heats it, pressurizes it better and extracts more oxygen. It also decreases irritation of the mouth and throat, opens up the lungs more, is healthier and more efficient, and requires less effort and energy than mouth breathing. Mouth breathing, on the other hand, is not warmed and moist, not clean, not pressurized and increases gum disease, bad breath, cavities, sleep apnea, snoring, increases blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, dementia, headaches, fatigue. And it’s is bad for us in the day and worse for us in the night for our health.

The health benefits of nose breathing include:

• Decreased heart rate

• Decreased blood pressure

• Improved mood

• Improved sleep

• Decreased stress

• Decreased anxiety

• Increased digestion

• Improved healing

• Decreased sleep apnea

• Better health

Nasal breathing increases nitrous oxide in our bodies and dilates our blood vessels, and helps us absorb 18% more oxygen than mouth breathing.

Scientific studies show optimum breathing is 5.5 liters of air per minute with an optimum rate of 5.5 breaths per minute. Optimum breathing is 5.5 seconds to inhale and 5.5 seconds to exhale. Optimum breathing for our health is nose breathing.

This book even suggests to improve our sleep and decreases sleep apnea that we can tape our mouth closed at night to ensure we are nose breathing and not mouth breathing. This taping of our mouth can be done with one piece of duct tape or multiple pieces to keep the mouth closed while sleeping. This book even recommended stamp-size piece of 3m Nexcare Durapore tape in the middle of your mouth as optimal treatment at night. I know some people who have actually done this and it improved their sleep and their health.

This book encourages all of us to breathe through our nose to significantly improve our health. It suggests three little words to improve your health “shut your mouth”. This book claims its recommendations are a game changer and you will never breathe the same again.

Let’s improve our health by breathing through our noses!

Dr. Eichelberger is retired from Greenwood Obstetrics and Gynecology and the Montgomery Family Practice Residency Program. He is is a physician volunteer with Hospice and Palliative Care of the Piedmont. Send comments to: The Doctor’s Prescription, P.O. Box 36, Ninety Six, SC 29666.