We have two ways to get air into our lungs – by nose or by mouth. Which one is better? Does it matter? It does.
Nose breathing warms, humidifies, and filters the air. It slows down the breath. When you breathe though your nose, the air is delivered to your lungs with nitric oxide that’s produced in the sinus cavities around the nasal passages.
With nitric oxide, more oxygen enters the bloodstream. Nitric oxide also dilates blood vessels to improve blood flow and boosts immune function; it works to protect against harmful bacteria and viruses.
Mouth breathing increases the likelihood of snoring, sleep apnea, tooth decay, gum disease, bad breath, and dehydration along with less oxygen uptake in the lungs.
Although there’s a clear winner, breathing through the nose isn’t always easy. If you have chronic congestion or infections or other breathing trouble, talk with your doctor.
Sometimes though, it’s a matter of habit and practice. Take a few moments to breathe slowly through your nose and visualize the nitric oxide being delivered as a gift to your lungs, improving the ability to absorb oxygen and transport it through your body. Try starting and ending your day with a few minutes of mindful nose breathing, and if possible, add a few more sessions throughout the day.
The takeaway: The nose is for breathing and smelling; the mouth is for eating and tasting. While it’s nice to have a backup system and have the option to breathe through the mouth when it’s necessary, the nose is the clear winner for optimal breathing.