Health & Longevity
Breathing’s effect on health and longevity is rather profound. Stress causes over 70% of all disease. Chronic over-breathing is a 24/7 stress to your brain and body if left unchecked. How does this come to be? Breathing habits often degrade over time for any number of reasons. Examples include bottle feeding during infancy, childhood or adolescent traumas, allergies and sinus issues, sedentary lifestyles, pregnancy, surgeries, asthma or anxiety and many other life-altering experiences. Because respiratory chemistry governs a critical part of our moment to moment physiology**, when breathing is sub-optimal, the body and brain become stressed (see insert below).
**pH, electrolyte balance, blood flow, haemoglobin chemistry, and buffer creation in the kidneys
Building Buffers and Robustness
When breathing is efficient and respiratory fitness is in place, health takes a giant leap forward. As mentioned in the FAQ’s, optimizing one’s breathing habit takes training. Unfortunately, it is not simply a matter of breathing in a prescriptive way – “breathing slow and deep” — as many well intended therapists or counselors might suggest. Hence why breathing apps or standard biofeedback can be counter-constructive, especially for those who don’t have healthy respiratory fitness. Capnotraining and Respiratory Fitness training will not only improve you buffers and robustness, but go on to improve sleep and mental balance as your breathing habit gets better.
BioMarkers for Health and Longevity
A high vagal tone, viewed as high heart-rate variability, is one of several key biomarkers for health and longevity. Increasing vagal tone can be beneficial once RF is in place. Resonant breathing and other specific exercises have been demonstrated to improve HRV, (details and “How To’s” in RF Training guide and with Tech Assisted Meditation). It is this author’s contention that there is a direct correlation between CO2 adaptation, RF fitness and HRV. Although more research is needed, early evidence suggests respiratory fitness training as having a substantial impact on overall HRV.
Although not an exhaustive list, a number of physiological biomarkers associated with health and longevity are listed below. Those marked with an asterisk are either directly or indirectly affected by one’s breathing behaviour.
- *Low resting heart rate. RF amplifies the parasympathetic (rest and digest) portion of our ANS through a more extended breathing rhythm and longer pause upon exhale. Heart rate drops as one spends more time in a parasympathetic state. Resonant breathing (which increases HRV) has also been shown by extended research to lower heart rate and blood pressure.
- *High HRV (heart rate variability) – the variation in the time between heartbeats. Both RF training and Better Being training expand cardiovascular limits – an effective way of ramping up HRV. One style of meditation and meditation prep included in the RF guidebook will also dramatically improve HRV.
- *Low inflammation – as measured by HS-CRP (highly sensitive C-Reactive Protein) and homocysteine levels. Breathing physiology indirectly influences inflammation –vasoconstriction/vasodilation of bronchial airways, GI tract smooth muscles and blood vessels.
- *Dexa-scans suggesting nominal to no bone mineral loss over time.
- High intracellular hydration levels — as measured by a bio-impedance meter.
- *High BioField energy with low psychophysiological stress as measured by a Biofield energy measurement instrument. Optimal breathing and RF training give way to higher CO2 adaptation. This ensures that one’s anxiety level (high sympathetic arousal) isn’t activated when CO2 builds in the circulatory system… a documented contributor to panic or anxiety attacks.
- * End Tidal CO2 levels at 39 – 43mmHG during all modes of living (work, play, sleep, rest, talking, training or even “stressing out”) as measured by a calibrated capnometer. Respiratory Fitness and CO2 adaptation ensure that physiology and chemistry stay balanced during all modes of living.
- *VO2 Max or RF Fitness level: Both are directly impacted by breathing physiology.
- Oxidative Stress Measurements: There are several, but they are beyond the scope of this website.
- *A predominant alpha rhythm throughout the brain (relative to other brainwaves during daytime activity). This can be measured by 19 channel QEEG. Flexibility to move into other predominant brainwave states (e.g. delta during deeper sleep, theta during meditation or light sleep, beta during the analytical workday, gamma during mystical experiences or as a healer) as appropriate with a return to alpha when environmental conditions warrant return. Alpha is the ideal resting state. Details on breathing’s effect on brainwave states will be added in the future. Rest assured, breathing affects neuronal regulation and neuronal regulation affects breathing.
- *Lengthy telomeres. Telomere length provides an indication of the overall aging process. Chronic dysfunctional breathing puts a heavy stress on physiology and hence contributes indirectly to telomere reduction over time.
Although not biomarkers, the following have a marked impact on health-span and are worth consideration:
- *The ability to move and exercise vigorously
- *Mental, behavioural and physical flexibility
- *Absence of symptoms, illness, disease and neurocognitive degradation
Because both breathing and vagal tone directly or indirectly influence nearly all biomarkers and aspects above, RF training and Tech Assisted Meditation (TAM) are two of the most valuable health and longevity practices one can put energy towards. Building awareness around the breath (i.e. a meditation habit) also gives a definitive boost to emotional intelligence, enhancing the ability to stay calm, cool and collected. This mental balance alleviates the setting off negative thoughts, actions, neurotransmitters and hormonal shifts that work against a healthy and happy life. Being emotionally charged and hot-headed rarely serves one’s future self.
Click for next: Peak Performance–Beyond Stress, Symptoms & Basic Health