How much should I breathe?
🎓 The Bohr Effect
The Bohr Effect is a biological fact discovered more than a hundred years ago. Let’s learn how it helps us today.
The solution isn’t to breathe more, but to breathe less and allow the CO2 to make oxygen transport more efficient with the help of the Bohr Effect.
Remember, whenever you’re breathing far in excess of what you need, there is a risk of passing out. So don’t practice breathing exercises involving hyperventilation while doing anything other than lying down or leaning back in a chair so that you can’t fall and hit your head. Definitely not while driving, please.
📝 Bohr Effect:
- A known medical fact for over 100 years
- Oxygen’s affinity to hemoglobin increases as presence of CO2 decreases (aka the “oxyhemoglobin dissociation curve”)
- Higher CO2 facilitates release of oxygen
- Therefore excess breathing reduces oxygen delivery
🤝 The benefits of carbon dioxide:
- Opens up breathing airways
- Dilates blood vessels
- Improves circulation
- Improves blood’s oxygen delivery capacity
🎓 Oxygen Saturation and Free Oxygen Radicals
- Blood oxygen saturation rarely moves outside 95-99% for most people.
- At rest we only use 25% of the oxygen we inhale, breathing out the rest.
- Breathing more has no effect for oxygen availability.
- Excess breathing only increases free oxygen radicals, which cause oxidative stress:
- Fat oxidation
- Breakdown of proteins
- DNA damage
📝 Signs of Chronic Overbreathing
Yes, that also happens!
To avoid overbreathing:
- Maintain nasal breathing whenever possible.
- Breathe deep down into the diaphragm.
- Breathe slow and rhythmic breaths.
- Avoid yawning, sighing or coughing, or pause for 10-20 seconds before the next inhale.
Causes of dysfunctional breathing:
- Excess heating
- Air pollution (including scented candles and perfumes)
- Sugar and processed foods