(First published - October 10, 2009, Rewritten –March 13, 2011)
‘How will you get well if you do not eat properly? Where will you get the energy from?’ (Agar khaana dhang se nahin khaoge to theek kaise hoge? Energy kahan se milegi?) These are the words I remember from my childhood whenever I was not well.
Four decades later, this widely prevalent belief has not changed much as most of us still believe that the secret to good health is ‘Watching What You Eat’.
Agreed that there is relatively more awareness now about the fact that additional inputs like morning walk, yoga, pranayama, exercise etc. are also needed to become healthier and then stay that way. But not many know how exactly these activities help and maybe, that’s the reason that most are not putting in the efforts that are needed.
FACT: The common factor is that the body gets relatively more Oxygen during these activities. Oxygen is used by the body to generate Energy. The following equation explains this in a rather simple way:
Nutrients + Oxygen = Energy + Carbon Dioxide + Waste Products
This basic link between Eating and Breathing is not widely understood and therefore not talked about as often as it should be. In my opinion, breathing is the more important of the two as this keeps on happening all the time. The best quality of food that money can buy is practically useless if sufficient oxygen is not available to convert the nutrients into energy.
‘How You Breathe’ is more important than ‘What You Eat’. Good Health can therefore not be bought from the shelf of a super market.
· The ideal breathing rate should be around 15 breaths per minute. Most humans breathe at rates of 20+ and the ones suffering from respiratory disorders even worse. Yogis are known to have breathing rates of about 3 bpm and even less. This perhaps is the secret behind their younger looks, amazing health and the longer life-spans.
· The stomach should get pushed out automatically with every inhalation when a person is breathing properly. Most humans do the reverse, i.e. the stomach is sucked inward while inhaling.
· Most adults are upper chest breathers and utilise only about one third of the total lung capacities. This translates to their breathing in only about 33% of the total potential. A deficiency of 67% oxygen with every breath through out most of the adult life is pretty high.
Fact: Majority of human adults are not breathing the way nature designed them to. Why? One word just about sums it up nicely – Stress.
It is a known fact that humans tend to breathe faster when under stress. Relaxed humans breathe better than the ones who are stressed. [By the way, the faster rate when under stress is not the same as the one experienced while exercising. Breathing when stressed is fast and shallow while during workouts it is faster but deeper too.]
Fact: Stresses affect that part of the human brain that controls the movement of the lungs.
It is impossible to have the combination of good health and a high breathing rate. Better breathing means more oxygen which means that more Energy is available for the body’s innumerable activities. All organs and systems start functioning in a more efficient manner and leading to an overall improvement in health.
More Energy, and indirectly more oxygen, is the key to better health. The human body’s inherent ability to self heal and rejuvenate can only be unleashed when there is sufficient quantity of energy available which can only happen with better breathing.
Therefore, any system that helps us breathe in more oxygen than we normally do will eventually make us healthier.
Although Pranayama, Yoga, Meditation, Morning Walks etc. can be learnt / practiced easily; these systems have their own limitations. Most are not able to practice regularly and consistently because of the many do’s and don’ts.
Not having sufficient free time in the morning hours because of worldly commitments is one reason that stops many from regular practice. Being bed-ridden or being too young or too old to understand these facts also are deterrents. These individuals also have the right to enjoy better health, don’t they?
There is also the fact that keeping late hours is a way of life now. The conventional systems listed above do require a major shift in life-style which is as good as asking for the moon. Does that mean that humans who have this life-style do not deserve the right to be healthy? On the contrary, they are the ones who are the most productive and are contributing immensely to society and therefore deserve to have better health.
Obviously, something that can help them breathe better can also theoretically help them become healthier. Reiki and Crystal Therapies are known to work wonders as the breathing rates gets altered whenever these are practiced on the self or on others.
In short, breathing in more oxygen is the key to better health…naturally. Follow the system that works for you and fits in with the individual lifestyle.
* * * *
Now to the other aspect that has a direct impact on human health and that is the one:
In my opinion, ‘Watch How You Eat’ is more important than ‘Watch What You Eat’.
I too had got caught in the rat-race of survival and had forgotten the basics about eating – ‘Proper Chewing’.
When food is not chewed, then the saliva does not get mixed in it properly. Saliva helps to partially break down the food. We all know this, yet we continue committing the basic mistake day in and day out. It’s obvious that the adverse effect of this habit has not yet sunk into our consciousness.
When food that has not been pre-digested properly reaches it, the stomach in turn is not able to do a complete job of digestion and the undigested or semi-digested food goes on to the small intestine. This portion of the food pipe is then unable to do a proper job of extracting the nutrients. The undigested/semi-digested food simply passes through and most of what we eat generally goes waste. Additionally – and this is the worst part – as the body’s requirements of nutrients are not fulfilled, we are ready to eat again in a very short period of time.
Long term result is that we are perpetually running short of energy (add improper breathing habits to this as also contributing) in addition to not having sufficient nutrients for the future requirements of energy.
Eventually, we end up not having the energy to even get rid of this excess daily waste which then starts reflecting on the waist (and maybe thighs, chest, around vital organs etc.)
Not a big surprise that we humans have generally lost this ability of being healthy…naturally! Just because we do not ‘Watch HOW We Eat’!
There are other aspects about food that we are ignorant about. This is about Proper Food Combining but that’s another story. This would require a major life-style shift which most might not be ready for just yet so am not taking it up here.
So Where Does One Start?
Ideally get rid of all the stresses and become better breathers straight away. Obviously this is a big ask and just can not happen overnight. It does not mean that you can never reach that stage where you can become natural deep breathers as nature meant you to be.
For starters, start each day ‘Watching How You Breathe’ for a few minutes before rushing out of bed for that Boost which, in my opinion, can NEVER be the secret of anybody’s energy.
Do this – I mean Watch How You Breathe – several times a day while going about the normal day to day activities in life. Consistent practice will eventually create a state where sufficient energy will ultimately become available to incorporate the more active systems like morning walk, Pranayama, Yoga, Exercise, 3-step rhythmic breathing, Reiki, Crystal Therapy etc.
A combination of these will give the much needed variety that the human minds sometimes need as following only one routine does become a bit monotonous.
In short, anything that helps you breathe better will eventually help you become healthier!
The ones who are bed-ridden now will obviously take a bit longer to reach a stage where they can walk around easily. Any progress will be noticed. Even the tiniest of successes will then provide the motivation and serve as a foundation for the next level.
Another big favour that you can do yourself straight away without a major shift in life-style is ‘Watch How You Eat’. Eat slowly and chew the food properly while allowing the saliva to mix with it. If you are hard pressed for time, eat lesser quantity but still chew it properly.
The shift will happen eventually when you start noticing that these little bits are making a difference in your life. You will be taking care of your health not only while you are working out, doing pranayama, yoga, Reiki etc. but also in those moments when you literally not doing anything.
Watch How you Breathe
Watch How You Eat
These are the basic mantras for attaining and maintaining better health…naturally.
No amount of exercise, diet control, yoga, pranayama etc. will ever do what these two together can but only if practiced on a regular basis.
The old habits will no doubt suck you back, but then do not give up. If you have fallen, just get up, brush yourself and start all over again.
YOU are the Master and you alone can give yourself this ultimate gift of better health…naturally. No doctors, no health coaches or healers etc. can ever give this to you. You are the one who can make it happen…
So very simple and yet not understood – yet – by the majority!
And so it is!