Unleashing the Power of Nasal Breathing: A Comprehensive Guide

As a functional nutrition coach, my mission is to guide you toward a healthier, more balanced lifestyle. Today, we’re going to delve into a topic that might seem simple, yet holds profound implications for your overall health – nasal breathing.

The Superiority of Nasal Breathing

Breathing is a fundamental aspect of life, yet how we breathe can significantly impact our health. Nasal breathing, as opposed to mouth breathing, offers numerous benefits.

Enhanced Oxygen Absorption:

Nasal breathing aids in better oxygen absorption. The nasal passage is designed to warm, humidify, and filter the air, making it optimal for your lungs and body tissues.

Improved Immune Function:

Your nasal passages are lined with tiny hair-like structures called cilia, which trap pathogens and particles, acting as a natural defense mechanism.

Better Sleep Quality:

Nasal breathing promotes better sleep quality by reducing the likelihood of snoring and sleep apnea, conditions often associated with mouth breathing.

Reduced Digestive Distress and Inflammation:

By promoting a slower and deeper breathing pattern, nasal breathing can help to regulate the autonomic nervous system, reducing stress and supporting the parasympathetic ‘rest and digest response’. This can lead to improved digestion and reduced digestive distress. Furthermore, by supporting the body’s natural anti-inflammatory response, nasal breathing can help to manage chronic inflammation, a root cause of many health conditions.

Understanding the benefits of nasal breathing naturally leads us to question the implications of its counterpart – mouth breathing.

The Drawbacks of Mouth Breathing

While mouth breathing might seem harmless, it can lead to several health issues:

Dry Mouth:

Mouth breathing can cause dryness in the mouth, leading to bad breath and an increased risk of cavities.

Poor Sleep:

It can contribute to sleep disorders like sleep apnea and snoring, leading to poor sleep quality.

Respiratory Issues:

Mouth breathing bypasses the nasal filtration system, increasing the risk of respiratory infections.

Having explored the drawbacks of mouth breathing, let’s now delve into the unique benefits of nasal breathing, particularly its impact on nitric oxide levels.

The Nitric Oxide Connection

One of the lesser-known benefits of nasal breathing is its impact on nitric oxide levels in our bodies. Nitric oxide, a molecule produced in the nasal sinuses, plays a crucial role in various bodily functions. When we breathe through our noses, we inhale more nitric oxide, which:

Boosts Immunity:

Nitric oxide has antimicrobial properties, helping to kill bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens.

Improves Circulation:

It helps dilate blood vessels, improving blood flow and reducing blood pressure.

Enhances Brain Function:

Nitric oxide aids in neurotransmission, improving memory and learning.

The role of nitric oxide in our bodies is closely linked with the functioning of our nervous system, particularly the parasympathetic nervous system.

Nasal Breathing and the Parasympathetic Nervous System

The way we breathe can influence our nervous system. Nasal breathing, in particular, supports the parasympathetic nervous system, also known as the “rest and digest” system. This system helps slow the heart rate, increase intestinal activity, and promote relaxation, thereby reducing stress and enhancing digestion.

When we breathe deeply and slowly through our noses, it stimulates the vagus nerve, which is a key component of the parasympathetic nervous system. The vagus nerve sends signals to your brain to turn down the “fight or flight” response and promote a state of calm. This can lead to lower blood pressure, slower heart rate, and a sense of peace and relaxation.

Moreover, nasal breathing helps maintain optimal levels of carbon dioxide in our blood. Contrary to popular belief, carbon dioxide is not merely a waste product. It plays a crucial role in the body’s pH balance and helps facilitate the release of oxygen from red blood cells to body tissues. By promoting a slower and deeper breathing pattern, nasal breathing ensures more efficient use of the oxygen we breathe in, further supporting the functions of the parasympathetic nervous system.

Here’s a simplified breakdown of how nasal breathing enhances the parasympathetic nervous system:

Deep, Slow Breathing:

This stimulates the vagus nerve, promoting a state of calm and relaxation.

Vagus Nerve Stimulation:

This reduces the “fight or flight” response, leading to lower blood pressure and slower heart rate.

Optimal Carbon Dioxide Levels:

Nasal breathing helps maintain the right balance of carbon dioxide, which facilitates the release of oxygen from red blood cells to body tissues.

Now that we understand the benefits of nasal breathing and its impact on our nervous system, let’s explore some practical exercises to enhance our nasal breathing.

Detailed Nasal Breathing Exercises

Middle aged woman practicing Buteyko breathing to boost nitric oxide blood levels

Let’s delve deeper into the specifics of the three exercises:

4-7-8 Breathing Technique:

This technique, emphasizes the importance of breathing lightly and less. Here’s how you can practice it:

  • Sit upright and relax.
  • Close your eyes and focus on your breathing.
  • Inhale quietly through your nose, but deep into your diaphragm for a count of 4.
  • Hold your breath for a count of 7.
  • Exhale slowly through your mouth for a count of 8.
  • Repeat this cycle four times.

You can watch this YouTube video for a visual guide.

Patrick McKeown’s Nose Unblocking Exercise:

If you struggle with a blocked nose, this exercise, developed by Patrick McKeown, can help:

  • Take a small, silent breath in and out through your nose.
  • Pinch your nose to hold your breath.
  • Gently nod your head up and down, keeping your mouth closed and holding your breath as long as possible.
  • When you need to breathe again, let go of your nose and breathe gently through it, keeping your mouth closed.
  • Wait a minute or two, then repeat the exercise.

Here is a YouTube video demonstrating this exercise.

The Oxygen Advantage:

This exercise, also developed by Patrick McKeown, focuses on improving your body’s oxygen utilization:

  • Take a small breath through your nose and expand your diaphragm for a count of 5.
  • Hold your breath for a count of 5.
  • Exhale slowly through your nose for a count of 5.
  • Repeat this cycle for 3-5 minutes.
  • You can follow along with this YouTube video.

Practicing these exercises regularly can significantly improve your nasal breathing. However, maintaining nasal breathing during sleep and heavy exercise can be challenging. Let’s explore some tactics to help keep your nose open.

Keeping Your Nose Open

Middle aged man wearing Intake Breath Strips relaxing

Nasal Strips:

Nasal strips like Breathe Right, Intake Breathing strips, or Mute nasal dilators are applied to the inside or outside of the nose. They gently pull open the nasal passages, making breathing easier. They can be particularly helpful during sleep or exercise.

Mouth Taping:

Mouth taping involves placing a small piece of tape over the lips to encourage nasal breathing during sleep. It’s important to use a tape designed for this purpose, like 1-inch 3M Micropore tape,  Myotape, or SomniFix which is easily removable and does not restrict your ability to open your mouth if needed. More information on mouth taping can be found HERE.

Foods That Promote Nitric Oxide Production

Quartered pomegranate showing vesicles to promote nitric oxide

Certain foods are known to boost nitric oxide production in the body. These include:


Beetroot is rich in dietary nitrates, which are converted into nitric oxide in the body.


Garlic stimulates the production of nitric oxide by activating nitric oxide synthase, an enzyme involved in the conversion of L-arginine into nitric oxide.

Citrus Fruits:

Citrus fruits like oranges and grapefruits are high in vitamin C, which has been shown to enhance nitric oxide production and protect it from damage.


This fruit is rich in antioxidants that can protect nitric oxide from oxidative damage, thereby enhancing its levels.

Nuts and Seeds:

Nuts and seeds are rich in L-arginine and L-citrulline, amino acids that can boost nitric oxide levels.

Dark Chocolate:

Dark chocolate contains flavonoids that can stimulate nitric oxide production.

Leafy Green Vegetables:

Leafy greens like spinach and arugula are high in nitrates, which are converted into nitric oxide in the body.

Now, let’s put these nitric oxide-boosting foods to use in a delicious recipe.

Nitric Oxide Boosting Recipe: Mediterranean Grass-Fed Steak Salad

Plate of sauteed steak with citrus, feta and walnuts


  • 2 organic grass-fed ribeye steaks
  • 2 cups of fresh organic baby spinach
  • 1 pomegranate
  • 1 orange
  • 1 grapefruit
  • 1/4 cup of mixed nuts (almonds, walnuts) and seeds (pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds), chopped
  • 4 tablespoons (TBSP) Extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon of organic dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon of organic fresh basil, sliced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Sheep’s milk Feta cheese for garnish


1). Season the grass-fed steaks with salt, pepper, 1 TBSP extra virgin olive oil, sliced garlic, and oregano. Let them marinate for at least 30 minutes.

2). While the steaks are marinating, peel the pomegranate and separate the seeds.

3). Peel the orange and grapefruit and cut them into slices.

4). In a large bowl, combine the spinach, pomegranate seeds, orange slices, grapefruit slices, and mixed nuts and seeds.

5). Heat a pan with 1 TBSP olive oil over medium-high heat. Once the pan is hot, add the steaks. Cook each side for 3-4 minutes for medium-rare, or until it’s cooked to your liking.

6). Let the steaks rest for a few minutes, then slice them thinly.

7). Add the steak slices to the salad.

8). For the vinaigrette, mince the remaining garlic and mix it with 1 TBSP olive oil, salt, and pepper.

9). Drizzle the garlic vinaigrette over the salad.

10). Toss the salad until all the ingredients are well combined.

11). Garnish the salad with crumbled feta cheese for a Mediterranean touch.

12). Serve immediately and enjoy your nitric oxide-boosting meal!


Nasal breathing is more than just a basic bodily function. It’s a powerful tool that can significantly enhance your health and well-being. By understanding the benefits of nasal breathing, the drawbacks of mouth breathing, and the profound impact of nasal breathing on nitric oxide levels and the parasympathetic nervous system, you can take proactive steps toward improving your health.

The breathing exercises and tactics shared in this blog post, along with the nitric oxide-boosting recipe, offer practical ways to boost your nitric oxide levels and fell your best.

Remember, the journey to better health is a marathon, not a sprint. So, take it one breath at a time. Stay healthy, stay happy!

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Don’t keep putting off feeling better any longer, today’s the day to start making a difference.

Note: The information provided in this blog is for educational purposes only and should not replace personalized medical advice. Please consult with a healthcare professional or functional nutrition coach for individualized guidance and treatment.

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