Shatter Your Entire View Of Health

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November 26, 2023 | Max Jenkinson

Look Better By Breathing Correct

Hunter-gatherers may be primitive compared to us when it comes to technology. But, when it comes to being healthy they are nothing short of impressive.

One thing I found interesting is that in many different hunter-gatherer tribes, there is a myth about bad spirits getting into us via our mouths. Because of this, it is known that mothers constantly shut their infants’ mouths as soon as they open.

Why would they develop such a myth independent of each other?

Well, it’s because they knew children who breathed threw their mouths more often did not develop correctly. They were also more susceptible to disease which back then often was a death sentence.

Our bodies are functionally a miracle. The fact that they work and that we live is insane. Yet, most people have literally no idea of how what they live in works.

Most people only did basic biology when they were teenagers and then that was that. But, you exist within a profoundly complex biological organism known as the human body. Let’s show it some respect and get to know it a little better.

One of the functions that keep us alive is breathing. We depend on oxygen and oxygen gets into us via our breath. We take this part of our physiology for granted because it works even if we never think about it.

When you hear people talking about breathing you might associate them with Eastern spiritual teachings or yoga. But, breathwork is a skill that could change your life.

Breathing is breathing, how important could it be? Well, correct breathing is more important than you could ever imagine.

A breath: From Air to Cell

How do you take a breath?

I really want you to think about it. What do you do and how does it work?

I bet you answered something like, “I suck air into my lungs using the diaphragm.”

Well, what does sucking mean? Are you grabbing the air and somehow pulling it down? What makes it go down into your lungs?

One day during physics class when I was around 17 I had a somewhat profound experience. We were learning all about diffusion and pressure. I realized that we don’t suck in air at all.

What happens is that we use muscles to expand our lungs. The expansion creates a bigger space without changing the amount of air (molecules).

So, now there are fewer molecules per unit of volume in the lungs compared to the air outside. By the laws of physics, the universe wants to even out the distribution of molecules or pressure in this case.

The air then spontaneously moves into the lungs to equalize the pressure difference. Isn’t that insane? Well, it blew my mind and from that day on I have been fascinated by physiology I had always taken for granted.

The Power of Oxygen

Oxygen is a very reactive molecule. That’s why shit burns in the presence of oxygen. Humans use oxygen to create an internal fire to burn fuel and release usable energy.

But, how does oxygen get into our cells? This will be a short, simplified, and useful explanation of how we use oxygen.

We expand our lungs to create an uneven distribution of air. To even it out the universe shoves air down our throats. Once in the lungs oxygen moves from the lungs into the blood. Again it’s to even out an uneven distribution. This time it’s the uneven distribution of oxygen instead.

In the blood, oxygen hops on a car called hemoglobin. When cells need oxygen they use up oxygen at a fast clip. While burning fuel the cell creates carbon dioxide. This molecule opens the car door and lets oxygen out.

Quite a clever design if you ask me.

I forgot to mention something. The process of getting oxygen into the blood is, as you might imagine vital. Without it, there would be no energy to run our system. Without energy, we die.

Because of the importance of oxygen, the process of getting oxygen to the cells has slowly been optimized for millions of years.

How you look is determined by how you breathe

The book Jaws: The Story of a Hidden Epidemic tells us about how our jaws have become smaller, our teeth crooked and our breathing worse. The solution for the better part of a century has been braces. But, in the book, the authors argue that the cause and the solution is breathing.

Something that is gaining more and more traction in the health sphere is something called tongue posture. When we breathe through our nose our teeth are connected and our tongue naturally rests on the roof our our mouth.

This natural resting position creates a slight pressure outward on the teeth. It works like braces but instead of pulling teeth together, it does the opposite.

By creating more space in the mouth teeth are allowed to grow into the correct place. More space also allows the entire face structure to develop naturally.

The larger jaw and mouth allow for airways to develop correctly. When we have a smaller jaw, and a smaller mouth everything that should fit now has to fit into a smaller space. This leads to crooked teeth, suboptimal airways, and a less good-looking face.

The square jaw you see in beautiful people was once normal. The 90-degree angle of the jaw is normal development for humans. Weston A Price went around the world in the early 1900s to study the facial and teeth structure of indigenous people. He found that they all had perfect teeth.

He argued that it was because we lacked an essential nutrient he called factor X which we now know is Vitamin K. But, it’s never one thing. A combination of soft foods, lack of nutrients, and worse breathing patterns has created generations of people with incorrect facial development.

A picture from the book Jaws: The Story of a Hidden Epidemic.

Now you might think that you’re screwed. How you look is how you look, right? Well, as you can see you can make a real glow up by breathing right.

You can do this even if you are past your developmental stage. Sure, the most profound changes occur when we are young but we can still make some real progress in how our face looks when we are adults.

Work on correct tongue posture and breathe through your nose (always). If you are interested in this, google Meewing, and read the books Jaws and Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art.

Sleeping Is Powered By Breathing

By now you know how important sleep is. You spend a third of your life asleep. Now imagine if the oxygen to your body, especially your brain was insufficient during your sleep every night.

What would that do to your body and your brain?

I am not going to go into the specifics of how mouth breathing during the night creates massive amounts of stress on the body. Instead, I just want you to think about it.

I’ve been actively trying to improve my health for over six years, and the thing that has had the biggest impact on me is taping my mouth shut at night. My sleep is so much better than on the odd nights I don’t use it that I cannot believe I used to live without taping my mouth shut. As strange as that sounds.

Tape your mouth shut at night

Buy some micropore tape and tape your mouth shut. It is one of the best ways to teach your body to breathe through your nose even when you’re not thinking about it.

Stress: Take a Breath

Everyone is stressed. Cortisol is running through our veins ruining our lives. Our lives are seemingly easier than previous generations, yet, we are more stressed.

Is it because we are softer or weaker, because our parents failed us, or could it be something else?

When we breathe through our mouths it is a signal for stress. When would we breathe through our moths in ancestral times? While sprinting away from a lion or fighting another tribe

If you remember, breathing through the mouth does not allow for the air to travel as deep into the lungs. This does two things. It worsens the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide and creates shallower breaths.

Less oxygen is stressful

Worse oxygen supply to the blood means less oxygen to the cells. Cells run on energy and energy production is dependent on oxygen. Insufficient energy is stressful.

Mouth breathing activates a stress response

Shallower breaths create a stress response which, in the short term, is good if we are in a fight to the death or trying to max out in the gym. But, if this response is chronically activated it leads to, you guessed it, chronic stress.

Immune system overload

When air gets into the nose it is filtered as it passes through nostril hair and snot. It is also warmed or cooled depending on the temperature of the breathed air. The nose also has a complex turbine structure which speeds up the air flow so that the air reaches deeper into the lungs. All this creates the maximal oxygen uptake into the blood.

Notice how I said that this occurs when the air gets into the nose. Well, none of this occurs when air enters the mouth instead. The nose is our breathing organ while the mouth is our feeding organ.

As you might assume, this is an attack on the body that it needs to take care of. Constantly taking care of foreign invaders is stressful. And, that stress over time is not good.

So, close your goddamn mouth and use the organ that was made for breathing instead.

Practical Tips For Better Breathing

Your nose is the organ designed for breathing. It filters the air, warms or cools it, and allows it deep into the lungs. All of this is to maximize the oxygen uptake.

By now you know I love to view health through the lens of energy. As oxygen is vital to energy production you might imagine how important it is to get breathing right for our health.

1) Monitor Yourself

Do you mouth breathe, if so when? Catch yourself and try to consciously breathe slower and longer through your nose instead.

2) Work On Correct Tounge Posture

The resting position of your tongue is a large determinant of your facial structure. Not only does it make you look better but it creates correct breathing which gives your body the oxygen it needs.

You’ll be healthier and better looking just by working on your tongue posture.

3) Tape Your Mouth Shut At Night

If you wake up in the morning with a dry mouth or a bad breath it is because you breathe through your mouth during the night. Taping your mouth shut is one of the best ways to teach your body to automatically breathe through your nose instead of your mouth.

If you are a chronic mouth breather like I was, or someone who snores, or someone who wants to be healthier without any work, tape your mouth shut at night.

One of the cheapest and most simple biohacks anyone can do. It might change your life like it did mine. Give it a try.

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Shatter Your Entire View Of Health

Join others getting their entire idea of what health is shattered every Sunday while reading Health Decoded.