Understanding Health Through Science

This week I want to share two articles about the science behind different aspects of how our bodies work. The first article is about breathing and how we can all learn to breath healthier. The second article is about the gut-brain connection. Below you’ll find these articles and my thoughts on their implications.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed below are those of Mark Pew, Senior Vice President of Product Development and Marketing, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Preferred Medical.

Breathing Techniques: A Guide to the Science and Methods 

Breathing is a constant, autonomic occurrence that many of us take for granted every day. But did you know that the way you breath can affect everything from your mood to overall health? Practicing attentive, healthy breathing is something we should all do in our daily lives. This article offers a thorough overview of everything you need to know about breathing—from techniques to use, to potential risks and everything in between.

Mark’s Thoughts:
You know how I talk about breathing as an option for managing Chronic Pain and stress? Well, I just found this excellent resource on how breathing works—how/why it’s important, how we often don’t do it right, and a detailed how-to on techniques for specific outcomes. “Healthy breathing” comes from “breathing through your nose, and the need to draw breath into your diaphragm and belly, not your chest.” It’s about balance of O2 and CO2—”We can also run into problems when our carbon dioxide levels are too low. Proper breathing techniques help us to maintain a proper balance.” I did the test and have room for improvement so I’m going to apply what I learned. Beyond the benefits of education and better habits—doing this costs you nothing. In other words…FREE! Invest 10 minutes to digest this info for a great start to your week! A helpful term that was used in the article was “attentive breathing.” In other words, paying attention to technique will help deliver better results (of so many things). I never knew breathing should be this sophisticated or strategic. You’ll be more conscious of your breathing as you digest the following subjects:

  • Where Does Improper Breathing Come From?
  • Mouth Breathing Versus Nasal Breathing: What’s the Difference?
  • How to Assess Your Body’s Carbon Dioxide Tolerance
  • Different Types of Breathing Techniques, including: The 365 Breathing Method, The 4-7-8 Breathing Exercise, Ayurvedic and Pranayama Breathing Techniques, Box Breathing, Buteyko Breathing Methods, Qi Breathing, and Breathing Techniques for Asthmatics.
  • How Does Stress Alter the Way We Breathe?
  • How Can Controlled Breathing Techniques Help Neutralize Stress?
  • How to Incorporate Breathing Exercises into Daily Life, including: Make It a Coping Technique, Combine Breathing Regulation with Good Posture, Try Out Yoga and Meditation, and Practice Breathing Before Bed.
  • Breathing Techniques Myths and Truths, including: Myth 1: “Deep Breathing” Is Healthy, Myth 2: We Need As Much Oxygen As We Can Get, Myth 3: Breathing is Automatic and I Don’t Need to Think About It, and Myth 4: All Breathing Techniques Have the Same Effect.
  • Potential Risks for Breathing Techniques

Of course, breathing is important because without air in your lungs you die. But it goes beyond just the bare necessities of living. I have spoken with many people in chronic pain that use breathing techniques as their primary modality to manage their pain, especially exacerbations. Because of that, and my own personal experience with managing stress thru mindful breathing, I have come to the conclusion that it should be part of an individual’s approach to life.

The gut-brain connection

Have you ever wondered why we get a “gut-wrenching” feeling, or “butterflies” in our stomachs? It’s because the gastrointestinal tract and brain work together very closely. The GI tract and brain send signals to each other in both directions that can impact physical pain. This means your stomachache could be the cause or the product of emotions such as anxiety, stress or depression.

Mark’s Thoughts:
I have used the term “butterflies in my stomach” before but had not thought about the biological connection between the gut and the brain. Stress can create stomach or intestinal problems and vice-versa. Read this article to understand how it works. And to recognize it (which might mean you can better manage it).

  • Physical symptoms: Stiff or tense muscles (especially in the neck and shoulders), headaches, sleep problems, shakiness or tremors, recent loss of interest in sex, weight loss or gain, restlessness.
  • Behavioral symptoms: Procrastination, grinding teeth, difficulty completing work assignments, changes in the amount of alcohol or food you consume, taking up smoking, or smoking more than usual, increased desire to be with or withdraw from others, rumination (frequent talking or brooding about stressful situations).
  • Emotional symptoms: Crying, overwhelming sense of tension or pressure, trouble relaxing, nervousness, quick temper, depression, poor concentration, trouble remembering things, loss of sense of humor, indecisiveness.

“A review of 13 studies showed that patients who tried psychologically based approaches had greater improvement in their digestive symptoms compared with patients who received only conventional medical treatment.” Reducing stress (brain) improved their digestive (gut) issues. The more you analyze the more it becomes obvious that your brain is the key to success in almost every aspect of psychological and physical wellness.

To read everything on my mind this past week, please visit me on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/marks-musings-october-21-mark-rxprofessor-pew/.

Until Next Week,