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Is nose breathing better than mouth breathing?

Simos

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Feb 15, 2009
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Yes it's a bit hard to breathe through your nose with a mask or noseclip on. :)
 
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Yes, that's obvious. But one could breathe through the nose before putting mask or noseclip on. IF it's actually better to breathe through the nose, IF it actually gives 10-15 % higher oxidation, then it seems to be worth it.
 

Simos

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Feb 15, 2009
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Yes, that's obvious. But one could breathe through the nose before putting mask or noseclip on. IF it's actually better to breathe through the nose, IF it actually gives 10-15 % higher oxidation, then it seems to be worth it.
Breathing through the nose has some benefits but better oxidation at least to my knowledge is not one, at least not by that much (doubt it makes any difference)!

Not sure what you could 'oxidate' that much better anyway, blood O2 saturation is pretty high anyway. I would even argue that for some people breathing through the nose can even be a bit worse, depending on your anatomy.

Focusing on diaphragmatic (instead of thoracic) breathing is more important than nose vs mouth...

Also in terms of breathing through the nose and then putting on mask/nose clip just before diving, I think most people would find it impractical as it would break relaxation and it's another thing to worry about just before diving... Also during recovery breaths (where quick oxidation would be important) again you have little option but to breathe in through the mouth as you surface.
 
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Simos, did you read the article I referred to? It states:

"We compared breathing through the nose with breathing through the mouth to see if it was possible to show whether there was a difference in the oxidation of the blood. Quite rightly it revealed that breathing through the nose led to a 10 - 15% higher oxidation of the blood. As a verification, breathing through the mouth with added NO from a gas bottle gave a similar effect, which corroborates that the NO in the nasal air has these positive effects."

I've now read a handful of studies saying the same thing, so unless we can't trust science, then the oxidation IS higher when breathing through the nose.

Earlier today I tried it. In my first attempt I improved my personal best static (dry) by 35 seconds. From 3.40 to 4.15. This is not proof in itself, but quite striking, don't you think?
 

Bill

Baron of Breathold
Oct 17, 2001
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'Earlier today I tried it. In my first attempt I improved my personal best static (dry) by 35 seconds. From 3.40 to 4.15. This is not proof in itself, but quite striking, don't you think?'
I've been following your posts. Just getting desperate to find another 20 seconds. Felt the same as Simos when I read it. If blood saturation is 98% and you get 15-20% more, is that 98.14? Couldn't be 113%.
Having said that, a funny thing is going on that is new. For 10 years, my dry and wet times have been within 5 seconds. After reading Stig's book and trying to become a nose breather, the times seem to be 15 seconds different now (nose clip for wet). If there is a chance this week, I'll get creative and put the clip on after I roll over or leave it off in the pool.
Still it's entirely possible that your big jump is a placebo effect. It can be a lot of fun experimenting.
 
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Yes, my improvement could be placebo, but 16 % in first try is quite a bit. I didn't look at the time until my first contraction, around 3.30, which was a minute later than normally, so I'm optimistic.

Here is a study showing that beetroot juice (containing nitrate) increased the maximal apneic duration by 11 %: Acute dietary nitrate supplementation improves dry static apnea performance.

If a dietary nitrate supplement can increase breath hold time, it seems plausible that nitric oxide from nose breathing could have a similar effect.
 
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Further: "Oxygen consumption and mitochondrial function. Exercise is associated with hypoxia in working muscle, a condition that favors nitrite reduction to NO. Because NO is known to induce vasodilation and to affect mitochondrial function, Larsen and colleagues wanted to investigate the effects of dietary nitrate on oxygen consumption during exercise. In a cross-over RCT trial in healthy volunteers, they demonstrated that supplementation with inorganic nitrate (8.5 mg/kg/day for three days) reduced oxygen cost (VO2) during controlled ergometer exercise (76). They also showed that this oxygen-sparing effect was not due to increased anaerobic energy production or signs
of cardio-pulmo-vascular alterations."

Source (from July 2013): Novel Aspects of Dietary Nitrate and Human Health.
 

Simos

Well-Known Member
Feb 15, 2009
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I think you are confusing things - what does beetroot have to do with nasal breathing? Different mechanisms etc.

There are plenty of other things (nutrition related, breathing patterns etc) that make a difference but that does not prove anything (positive or negative) about breathing through the nose.

I am not even saying that breathing through the nose doesn't help apnea - all I am saying is that I don't see how the mechanism is higher oxidation when most people are at 99% saturation anyway.

Also even more importantly, the fact that you are holding for longer proves nothing, unless you are blacking out every time. That's because you are probably stopping your hold (as a beginner) due to high CO2, not low O2.

My guess is that you are hyperventilating more when breathing through the nose because you are either breathing in deeper or faster or both, hence why you can hold for longer. :)
 
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Beetroot juice has little to do with nose breathing, except for one thing. The effect of beetroot juice is due to the nitrate content. If I understand this correctly then the nitrate becomes nitric oxide in the body. So essentially nitric oxide is what makes the breath holding times longer, as seen in the studies with beetroot juice. So far, so good.

Now, when we breathe through the nose, the nitric oxide from the nasal airways is transported to the lungs (Decreased pulmonary vascular resistance d... [Acta Physiol Scand. 1998] - PubMed - NCBI). And from the lungs the nitric oxide enters the blood. So, if nitric oxide from dietary sources has an effect on breath hold times, it seems plausible that nitric oxide from the nasal airways might have a similar effect.

After having read more about it, I tend to agree with you, Simos, that the effect might not be due to increased oxidation of the blood. I think that might have been an assumption made after some of the first studies on this.
 

Mullins

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Mar 4, 2004
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That sort of jump in static PB is very normal. Link to a study showing 10-15% higher oxygenation with nose breathing? It's a very easy thing to test so if it's true it'll be in all the medical textbooks.
 
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Not necessarily, Mullins. Textbooks are often behind the latest research, as new findings are only added after they have been firmly established. So, just because something isn't in the textbooks certainly does not mean it isn't so.

Research on nitric oxide is a rather new thing. But see this also:

"Intriguingly, NO gas from the nose and sinuses is inhaled with every breath and reaches the lungs in a more diluted form to enhance pulmonary oxygen uptake via local vasodilation. In this sense NO may be regarded as an "aerocrine" hormone that is produced in the nose and sinuses and transported to a distal site of action with every inhalation."

Source: Nitric oxide and the paranasal sinuses. [Anat Rec (Hoboken). 2008] - PubMed - NCBI.

According to this study, pulmonary oxygen uptake is enhanced during nose breathing. So, this study ALSO seems to tell us that nose breathing might be worth a shot when it comes to freediving.
 

Mullins

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Err, yes. The medical profession has probably missed the fact that breathing through one's nose completely changes one's arterial oxygen saturation. So when I was hooked up to a pulse oximeter the other week in Niue hospital (long story) waiting for my O2 sat to rise from 95% I should just have started nose breathing and made it shoot up to 100%.

More likely the 10-20% figure is something they made up (the yoga site does reference the bible, which isn't exactly the foremost authority on, well, anything) or a measure of something very different from O2 saturation. Rate of uptake or something (giving them the benefit of the doubt here). Not much use for freediving because we're not exercising heavily before a breathhold and have 99% saturation despite our crude mouthbreathing.
 
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Okay, Mullins. You have apparently not read ALL the references I've posted. Except for the first one (from the yoga site), all the others are from scientific journals. Maybe you should do that before rejecting this.

Doctors are not scientist, and most of them are not on the beat when it comes to the latest medical knowledge. That's not a critique of doctors, as they simply can't be as the scientific literature grows too fast.
 
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By the way, Mullins, the article from the yoga magazine was written by Eddie Weitzberg, who is Professor of Anaesthesiology and Intensive Care at the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Karolinska Institute (http://ki.se/ki/jsp/polopoly.jsp?d=1982&l=en). The Karolinska Institute was ranked no. 11 in Clinical Medicine and Pharmacy, in 2012, on the Academic Ranking of World Universities (Academic Ranking of World Universities in Clinical Medicine and Pharmacy - 2012 | 2012 Top 100 Universities in Clinical Medicine and Pharmacy | ARWU-FIELD 2012). So maybe we shouldn't dismiss what he is writing just because it's posted on a yoga page. ;)
 
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MarcinB

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Oct 26, 2012
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I've browsed the papers thestefanhansen mentioned. This 10-15% increase in "blood oxygenation" actually refers to increased arterial oxygen tension and transcutaneous oxygen tension. Therefore, as Mullins pointed out, it wouldn't make any difference as far as blood oxygen content is concerned. Nevertheless, these studies are very interesting. I had no idea that the sinuses produce so much NO.

Thestefanhansen, the improvement in breath hold duration after dietary nitrate supplementation is controversial. One study found a positive effect whereas the other found the opposite.
 
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