Breathing Is a Key Good Health, Learn How…
Fact: 1 in 3 American adults have high blood pressure, and another large segment of the US adult population has prehypertension, meaning your pressure is higher than normal but not high enough to qualify as hypertension.
Fact: 1 in 4 American adults reports feeling extremely stressed, and these 2 conditions, stress and hypertension, tend to run together.
Many breathing experts say that 9 out of 10 people breathe poorly, which negatively impacts both the stress level and blood pressure.
Correcting the way one breathes can help alleviate both of these conditions.
Dr John Kennedy, cardiologist and author of “The 15-Minute Heart Cure: The Natural Way to Release Stress and Heal Your Heart in Just Minutes a Day,” featured on “The Doctors” in Y 2011, developed a breathing and creative visualization technique that can be done anywhere, anytime to reduce stress, lower your blood pressure and protect your heart.
By teaching the body to slow down and relax short-circuits the physical stress reaction, breathing can either trigger or hinder the human relaxation response.
Researchers at the University of Melbourne and Macquarie University believe essential hypertension (high blood pressure with no known cause), which is the most common form, may be prevented by implementing breathing exercises, provided you start doing it early enough.
HealthCanal reports, as follows: “Lead researcher professor Andrew Allen says the research parallels what sportspeople and eastern philosophies have long understood about the link between breathing and heart rate. ‘Biathletes have to regulate their breathing to slow down their heart rate before rifle shooting, and eastern meditative practices such as yoga and pranayama have always emphasized the interaction between the two’…”
The researchers discovered that by interrupting the activity between 2 types of neurons, the ones controlling breathing and others regulating blood pressure in young mice, they were able to dramatically reduce the development of hypertension in adulthood.6 Unfortunately, in adults, where the synaptic interactions have become more fixed, the blood pressure reduction was only temporary. As reported in the featured article:7
“Breathing and blood pressure are functionally linked through the sympathetic nervous system, which sends nerve signals to the heart and blood vessels.
The altered neural activity leads to increased fluctuations in blood pressure with every breath and are seen in both the animal model and young, healthy adults at risk of developing high blood pressure in middle age. This [emphasizes] the need to identify people at risk of developing high blood pressure early.”
Recent research shows the reason controlled, purposeful breathing is so calming is because it doesn’t activate specific neurons in your brain that communicate with your arousal center. Put another way, the reason rapid, shallow breathing is so stress-inducing is because it activates neurons that trigger arousal, which typically translates into worry and anxiety.
In this animal study, researchers were attempting to identify different types of neurons and their role in breathing function. They were focused on the pre-Bötzinger complex, also known as the breathing pacemaker. As reported by The New York Times:9
“More than 25 years ago, researchers at the UCLA (University of California at Los Angeles) 1st discovered a small bundle of about 3,000 interlinked neurons inside the brainstems of animals, including people, that seem to control most aspects of breathing. They dubbed these neurons the breathing pacemaker.”
The researchers honed in on 175 neurons in the breathing pacemaker, which they then “silenced” in the mice, with the expectation that this would alter their breathing patterns. However, that did not happen. There were no changes at all in their breathing patterns after the neurons were knocked out.
Instead, the researchers found the mice became very relaxed, and remained relaxed even in situations where anxiety would normally be triggered. What they discovered is that these neurons positively regulate neurons in a brainstem structure called the locus coeruleus, which is linked to arousal. It is, in other words, the formerly hidden link between breathing rate and emotional state.
Study coauthor Jack Feldman, distinguished professor of neurology at UCLA said: “It’s a tie between breathing itself and changes in emotional state and arousal that we had never looked at before. It has considerable potential for therapeutic use.”
While the creation of drugs to target this brain region is likely part of the agenda, there are natural methods already known to do so.
Controlled breathing, or pranayama as it is known in the practice of yoga, is a central part of many ancient traditions.
Breathing exercises have been found to impact both your blood pressure and stress, which makes sense considering how closely tied those two conditions are.
A recent article in University Health News cites several studies showing breathing exercises help lower blood pressure.
For example, in a Y 2005 study it found taking 6 deep breaths in 30 secs, each inhale and exhale lasting 5 secs lowered systolic blood pressure anywhere from 3.4 to 3.9 units, compared to simply resting in a seated position.
If you cannot figure out how to do it on your own there are lots of app out there for you.
I discovered when I was learning yoga 18 yrs ago that I could lower by blood pressure by breathing normally but from my diaphragm. I cured my own hypertension.
How to do that: push your tongue to the roof of your mouth and your have to breath through the nose from the diaphragm.
The problem with shallow, rapid breathing from the top of the chest, is that it activates a sympathetic response, which is involved in releasing cortisol and other stress hormones.
Controlled deep breathing thought helps trigger the relaxation response as it activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which in turn slows down heart rate and digestion and bringing on a state of calm.
Controlled breathing exercises have also been found to modify stress-coping behaviors and initiate appropriate balance in cardiac autonomic tone, a term that describes your heart’s ability to respond to and recover from stressors.
There are many different breathing techniques out there.
As mentioned above, simply inhaling and exhaling to the count of 6 can go a long way toward regulating your breathing and lowering your blood pressure.
You have to breathe through your nose, not your mouth.
The following is a Buteyko breathing exercise that can help reduce stress, control anxiety and quell panic attacks. This sequence helps retain and gently accumulate carbon dioxide, leading to calmer breathing and reduced anxiety. In other words, the urge to breathe will decline as you enter a more relaxed state, as follows:
- Take a small breath into your nose, followed by a small breath out
- Then hold your nose for 5 seconds in order to hold your breath, and then release your nose to resume breathing
- Breathe normally for 10 secs
- Repeat the sequence
In addition to being slow and deep, ideally you want your breathing to also be very calm and light so light that the hairs in your nose barely move. This type of breathing, which is part of the Buteyko school of thought, helps you to enter and remain in a calm, meditative state while lowering your blood pressure.
The following 3 steps will help your breath become lighter with practice.
- Place one hand on your upper chest and the other on your belly. Your belly should move slightly in and out with each breath, and your midsection should get wider, while your chest should remain unmoving
- Close your mouth and breathe in and out through your nose. Focus on the cold air coming into your nose and the slightly warmer air leaving it on the out breath
- Slowly decrease the volume of each breath, to the point it feels like you’re almost not breathing at all. The Key thing here is to develop a slight air hunger. This simply means there’s a slight accumulation of carbon dioxide in your blood, which signals your brain to breathe
You may feel a slight air shortage at first, but this should be tolerable. If it becomes uncomfortable, take a 15-second break and then continue. After 3 or 4 minutes of air hunger, you will start experiencing the beneficial effects of CO2 accumulation, such as an increase in body temperature and an increase in saliva.
The former is a sign of improved blood circulation; the latter a sign that your parasympathetic nervous system has been activated, which is important for stress reduction.
Note: Nitric oxide (NO) is a well-established biological signaling molecule that relaxes blood vessels. Most of us tend to have lower levels the older we get, I fixed that by drink beetroot juice daily.
Again the connection between stress and hypertension is well documented, but it does not receive the emphasis it deserves. In fact, it has been shown that people with heart disease can lower their risk of subsequent cardiac events by over 70% just by learning to manage stress, breathe.
Eat healthy, Be healthy, Live lively, Breathe
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