As I wrote in one of my previous posts, I recently started my 200h breath work instructor training. Coming from a Pranayama background, I always knew the breath was kind of important. Kind of regulating the nervous system. Kind of key for a balanced, strong, and steady practice. One year ago, when I went through my first holotropic breath session, when I suddenly realized that there is so much more attached to the way we breathe. Our stress level. Our hormonal secretion. Our emotions, traumas, and traits. The way I breathe tells me how I feel before I even realize I feel something. It tells me if I had good or bad foods. It tells me if I slept well or not. The organ behind all this, the lungs, are more than just air sacks pumping oxygen in and out of our lungs to keep us alive. Respiration is not the only thing they can do. The lungs are quintessential for detoxification, weight loss, and sound production. But to learn how the way we use this organ affects our mental and physical health literally blew me away. As an introduction to the topic, I’ll share one of the most amazing facts I’ve learned so far with you.
Weight loss via mucus
One of the main functions of the lungs is weight loss. When you start to change your diet for a more healthy and less toxic lifestyle, your weight loss in the first weeks will not so much be a reduction of fat but a detoxification process where the body flushes out particles surrounded by sticky mucus called amma in Ayurvedic medicine. It’s similar to irritation by cooking chilly or cutting onions that make your nose run. The sensitive membrane in the nose gets triggered by the spice and to protect the surface, it creates a gel that surrounds the burning particles and slides them out. This gel is what we refer to as mucus. The same happens with bad foods in your intestines – a harmful particle that makes it into the bloodstream through the semi-permeable membrane of the intestines gets surrounded by the gel to be eventually flushed out. In a modern lifestyle, the overload of toxins is so high that the body often can’t handle to flush all of the out straight away. If you want to know more about global toxicity, click here!
So toxins from food come into the bloodstream via the intestines and move towards the cells where they are stored in sticky mucus in the cells, around the inner organs, and sometimes, in dangerous cases, even in the arteries and veins. This mucus is acidic. A high level of mucus in the body shows via bloating, constipation, and a lack of clarity. The skin can be puffed up and everything feels swollen. Just pay attention to your body the next time you eat fast food and drink alcohol in comparison to how you feel after a salad or smoothie. Lighter, right? When you now start to breathe slowly and steadily deep into your belly consciously pulling the diaphragm up and down, your blood becomes more alkaline. In this state of intermitted Hypoxia (high Co2 but low o2 level in the body) your body will automatically produce more red blood cells and more hemoglobin. Hemoglobin transports O2 towards the cells and takes CO2 out. With the mucus being stored within the cells, this higher exchange of CO2 and O2 triggered by the way you breathe moves the mucus and its toxins back into the bloodstream. The particles move back through the wall of the intestines and are eliminated within the next visit to the toilet. The mucus itself is split into its components (mainly water) and gets breathed out via the lungs. This process can be heavily supported with an Ayurvedic elimination diet and fasting. Drinking a lot of unsweetened liquid is key as well. Let me know if you need more info!
Weight loss via fat cells
Were we just talking about toxic mucus being flushed out via slow breathing, I now want to introduce you to the actual super amazing thing about the lungs as the primary organ when it comes to weight loss. Whatever fat cells you want to get rid of, you’re most likely to lose them via the lungs. The fat we take in with our food is stored in the tissue with cells that are called adipocytes, which are the fat cells we want to get rid of. Like everything in the body, their existence is more than justified: They store energy in case there is no more food coming in. Our DNA and cells were programmed more than 200.000 years ago when the next supermarket wasn’t just around the corner.
To be stored properly, the fat is transformed into a compound called triglyceride. Triglyceride is made out of three types of atoms: Carbon, Hydrogen, and Oxygen. If broken down into its components, it forms one water particle and four carbon dioxide particles. Lowering the CO2 level in your blood with certain breathing techniques forces the body to get access to the CO2 stored in your cells to provide the gas for exchange in the alveoli (the little bubbles in the lungs at the end of the bronchioles. An average person with normal breathing habits loses around 200g of carbon dioxide per day simply by breathing. Filling that in with three meals per day certainly doesn’t support weight loss, but to know that controlling weight requires unlocking the carbon stored in fat cells gives you another view on the whole topic. Exercise helps (a lot) but to support your respiratory system properly pay proper attention to just breathing through your nose. If you start to breathe through the mouth, slow down. The mouth is for eating, not breathing.
How to exactly raise and drop the CO2 and O2 levels in your blood and so promote a healthy and balanced lifestyle you will find out in one of the coming posts.
Much love to you all!