Speaker 1 (00:00):
Welcome to The Dr. Gundry Podcast, the weekly podcast, where Dr. G gives you the tools you need to boost your health and live your healthiest life.
Dr. Gundry (00:11):
Hey everybody. It’s Dr. Gundry here. And I’ve got some very exciting news. Right now, you can sign up for Dr. Gundry’s newsletter. As a subscriber, you’ll get updates about new episodes of The Dr. Gundry Podcast, where we talk about all things health. Trust me, you won’t want to miss out. I’ll also keep you in the loop of all the things I’m up to, from news to events, to special appearances, visit www.drgundry.com to sign up.
Welcome to The Dr. Gundry Podcast. So imagine if we could reduce or even reverse asthma, anxiety, psoriasis, and much, much more all by changing a single habit. Well, no, this is not some far off fantasy. In fact, it’s something that you can do yourself without spending a single penny. Oh my gosh, on doctors, drugs or devices. And according to my guest today, changing the way you breathe could influence your body weight and allow you to hack into your nervous system, control your immune response and who doesn’t want to do that right now, restore your health and perhaps even help you live longer. Boy, these are high lofty goals, and I just know our guest, journalist James Nestor, the author of a fascinating new book called Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art.
So today he and I are going to discuss how your lungs affect your weight, why exhaling may be more important than inhaling. And the role food has had on our breathing and even the shape of our skulls. And I love that’s what really got me fascinated with that because I’ve researched skulls just like you. So we’re going to discuss the breathing technique that may reduce inflammatory markers, 40 fold within a matter of weeks. And so you got to stay here. James, it is great to have you on the podcast.
James Nestor (02:28):
Thanks a lot for having me. Great to be here.
Dr. Gundry (02:30):
So what the heck in studying skulls teach us about breathing?
James Nestor (02:37):
Well, a skull with a smaller mouth is going to be more apt to have a smaller airway. And it turns out that the human skull has been shrinking and shrinking and shrinking, the last few centuries. Our mouths have gotten so small that our teeth no longer fit, they’re growing crooked. So when you have crooked teeth, you have a smaller airway, makes you more apt to have things like sleep apnea, snoring, respiratory issues. It’s even been implicated in asthma and other problems. So this was something that just blew my mind when I first found it. I didn’t believe it, but all you have to do is look at skulls and you can see for yourself.
Dr. Gundry (03:16):
Are you aware of the dentist Weston Price? And I figured you would have to. Who wrote the classic book, Metabolic and Physical Degeneration. And he became, as a dentist, fascinated that kids, and this was in the 1920s and thirties for the first time in his memory had tooth crowding and orthodontic problems. And he was an immature anthropologist. And he’d never seen anything like it in any skull before.
James Nestor (04:00):
No that’s exactly right. He was the lead researcher at the National Dental Association, which [inaudible 00:04:07] ADA and he spent 10 years researching this, looking at thousands and thousands of skulls. And the data is all very clear of what has happened to the human mouth and the human skull and how that affects breathing. And so many other things.
Dr. Gundry (04:24):
But James, we’ve got a bigger brain that must have made the rest of our face bigger. What say you?
James Nestor (04:33):
Well if you go back a million years ago, when we first started processing food and by that, I mean, beating pray against rocks. So we wouldn’t have to spend six hours chewing on it. This allowed our brains to grow bigger because we had more energy. We had more calories for this. We started cooking food that released even more calories. So our brain needed real estate. And so it started moving into the front of our faces. And right at this time, our faces became more flat. Our nostrils used to be up like that, just like apes, just like so many other animals. And our faces became flat. Our mouths got smaller. Our teeth got smaller because we didn’t need them to be chomping for so long.
And by the time you get to the industrial revolution, which really started booting up around 250 years ago, but we started processing food so much. They became so soft. We didn’t really need to chew anything at all. And so the ramifications of that are you look at me, extractions, braces, crooked teeth, and you can look around the rest of society. 90% of us have some sort of issue with our jaw and teeth.
Dr. Gundry (05:41):
Yeah, you might… I think it’s fascinating listening to your story and the first part of the book and this was having orthodontic work, having your wisdom teeth removed, having braces that was par for the course, I’m sure your parents said, “Oh yeah, that’s normal.” But you had a host of breathing difficulties kind of from day one. Yeah.
James Nestor (06:08):
Yeah. Well, I had never associated those as being abnormal or being a problem. Growing up, it was never, if you were going to get braces it’s when are you going to get them? And so later on in life, I was eating all the right foods. I was exercising all the time, I was sleeping well, and yet I was constantly having respiratory issues. And I’ve thought that this was just normal again, because everyone I knew seemed to have chronic sinusitis. They seem to have some form of asthma, but these things aren’t normal. And you can just look at the charts, look at the incidences of how many people all around the world are getting more and more of these issues as time progresses. So this is not good for our health, having these breathing problems. I had chronic bronchitis, pneumonia on and on and on. And I found out that so much of that had to do with my airway, how I was breathing.
Dr. Gundry (07:01):
So early on in the book, you describe a fascinating experiment at Stanford when you and a, let’s call him your friend, your experimental friend, who… Well, you tell the story because I think it’s a great lead in into your whole book. I loved it.
James Nestor (07:25):
I have been talking to the chief of rhinology research at Stanford, nose guy who said the nose is so underappreciated and under-recognized. And so few of us use it, 25 to 50% of the population, that’s on the higher end of estimates are chronic mouth breathers. And a lot of us don’t think that there’s a difference. And even a lot of doctors say, there’s no difference. [inaudible 00:07:50] it’s all about getting air into your body. Totally false. So we know that chronic mouth breathing causes all kinds of problems. Can change the structure of your face, makes you more apt to get respiratory issues, it’s implicating asthma, anxiety, all that stuff. So we know that. We just didn’t know how quickly it came on. Nobody had tested it. And so he sort of dreamed up this idea and I, for some God-awful reason agreed to do it. Which was to plug my nose for 10 days, breathe only through my mouth and to record the data of exactly what happened.
And the point of this wasn’t to do some sort of stunt, some, some jackass stunt. It was to lower ourselves into a position that so much of the population already knows. The difference is we’re measuring what happened.
Dr. Gundry (08:38):
And you actually had to pay money to do this, which amazed me.
James Nestor (08:44):
Well, Stanford’s really hard up for money.
Dr. Gundry (08:47):
I know, they are poor guys.
James Nestor (08:49):
He didn’t have it. There was nothing in his funding that would allow us to do this. So we had to chalk up thousands and thousands of dollars to do this study. I was curious enough, I wanted to do it. The other person in the study. I wanted it to be more than just one person, be much more powerful if it were to be even greater. If there were hundreds weren’t able to do that. He flew from Sweden. He is a breathing therapist, so convinced of the power of nasal breathing. He said, “I got to put my money where my mouth is.” So to speak flew over here, spent a month in San Francisco, participating in this study.
Dr. Gundry (09:26):
I mean, most of us and my plastic surgeon friends would say that the nose is only there to make it more beautiful surgically. My dog of course would disagree. My dogs. So why do you think that, and you eloquently describe in the book, the beauty of the nose and why it’s there and what it’s doing. Why do you think that modern medicine has given the nose? I mean, it’s just something to work on as a plastic surgeon and that’s about it, what went wrong?
James Nestor (10:03):
I think that we developed a bunch of different drugs and antibiotics to take care of a bunch of problems. And people think that Western medicine, which can do so much, I probably wouldn’t be alive without Western medicine. So this there’s no pointing fingers here at all. But we figure that modern science can take care of us should we get a big problem. We know that with surgery, we get our faces bashed in an accident, you don’t want acupuncture. You want a surgeon to fix that. But for these low grade chronic problems that so many people have, which we’re very good at addressing the symptoms of, but we’re not addressing the core problems of, nasal breathing as weird as this sound, can really help so many of these issues. Because the thing is the nose, it not only pressurizes air, it heats it up. It removes pathogens and it conditions it.
So by the time it gets to the lungs, our lungs can more readily and easily absorb that oxygen. So just breathing equivalent nasal breaths versus mouth breaths, you get 20% more oxygen breathing through your nose because of all those things. You can just imagine what that does for you throughout the day.
Dr. Gundry (11:16):
Well, now wait a minute. Anybody would know that your mouth is bigger than your nose and your mouth is closer to your lungs. So any idiot would tell you that a mouth is a far more effective way of getting oxygen to your lungs.
James Nestor (11:33):
Not true, a hundred percent not true because that pressure allows air to be slowed down. And when it’s slowed down, that gives your lungs more time to absorb that oxygen. When we’re breathing through our mouth, we tend to breathe in our chest. And it turns out that so much of those mouth breaths, we take in our throat, in the back of our mouth, in the bronchitis here, but they never make it to the lungs. So you can’t exchange gas. You can’t absorb oxygen in all of this dead space. The most efficient space to absorb oxygen is at the bottom of the lungs. That’s where the most blood is. So by taking a slower nasal breath, you’re stimulating those lower lobes of the lungs and you’re able to get oxygen so much more efficiently. And this is basic physiology. This isn’t a hypothesis. You ask any pulmonologists. My father-in-law’s a pulmonologist. He’d be the first one to tell you that.
Dr. Gundry (12:29):
So James, what can people do about if they’ve got a question about sleep apnea or they’re snoring, or… Should they take this seriously? What’s your thoughts?
James Nestor (12:43):
The nose is a use it or lose it organ. I learned this from the doctor of speech language pathology at Stanford, by the name of Ann Kearney. She had chronic sinusitis, chronic mouth breather. She was slated for surgery. She said, “Wait a second. I think the nose is like any other muscle.” So she looked at 20 different patients who had laryngectomies, hole drilled in their throat. And she found that between two months and two years, their nose is completely blocked up. She figured if I just try to start breathing through my nose all the time, what’s going to happen at night? At night, wearing a little piece of tape, not a fat piece of duct tape, tiny piece of tape, just to train the mouth shut. You can take it off by just opening your mouth with your tongue, whatever. She was able to drastically impact her ability to breathe through her nose. CAT scans proved it.
So I’m not saying everyone can do this. Some people do need surgical interventions, but from my experience and from talking with her and so many other people, the vast majority of us, the more we can start breathing through our noses, the more that nose is going to open up and that can vastly affect our quality of sleep. I showed that in my study, it’s been shown in plenty other studies as well.
Dr. Gundry (14:00):
So if somebody and I see a ton of people with sleep apnea and it’s unfortunately very underdiagnosed and one of the recommendations I have for anyone, if you probably don’t think you snore, but if your partner says you snore, guess what? You got sleep apnea until proven otherwise. And you need to do something about that. Has there been any evidence that say a BiPAP or CPAP will aid nasal breathing, particularly BiPAP.
James Nestor (14:39):
Not that I’ve found.
Dr. Gundry (14:41):
I haven’t seen it either.
James Nestor (14:43):
I haven’t seen it. And curiously I’ve gotten dozens and dozens of emails from people who had mild to moderate sleep apnea, not severe, not caused by obesity. That’s a whole another can of worms. Mild to moderate, they’ve trained themselves to close their mouths at night. They sometimes lifted their bed up. It’s called inclined bed therapy.
Dr. Gundry (15:05):
James Nestor (15:05):
About six inches. Use a bunch of books, use some bricks, it’s free, whatever, and they no longer have any sleep apnea. Their AHIs went down to zero. A friend of mine. I just helped him because I wanted to really fit dude, strong guy, had three sleep studies, moderate sleep apnea. He taped his mouth, put his bed up, zero. We know this because I gave him a pulse ox and we looked at the data. So again, this is not a blanket cure for everybody, but it’s something that is not being discussed in sleep medicine too much, is the role that mouth breathing alone plays in snoring, upper airway resistance syndrome, and certain parts of sleep apnea.
Dr. Gundry (15:52):
Yeah, and in our office, we do a specialized Cardiac troponin I, which is in picograms per milliliter, instead of nanograms like most labs. And we found that people unbeknownst to them that Cardiac troponin I elevation in picograms is a great predictor of sleep apnea. And I mean, your heart is literally having a minor heart attack when you have sleep apnea. And we could show that when we… We used weight loss, which works really good. If you’re obese. We showed that when we got rid of the sleep apnea, that they were no longer having a nightly heart attack.
James Nestor (16:35):
Absolutely. And Dr. Steven Park has written a couple books on this. He’s at Albert Einstein Medical School. And he’s found that same thing, what’s even more fascinating, you don’t even need to have clinically diagnosed sleep apnea to be suffering from this stuff. He’s found in Dr. Christian Guillermo, down at Stanford, studied this for 50 years. Any resistance in the airway, even [inaudible 00:17:01] can trigger spikes and blood glucose, can trigger sympathetic stress, can trigger hypertension. So even if your doctor says, “Oh, you’ve only have 10 AHI, but it’s only at nine seconds, 10 seconds. So you don’t get a CPAP, any resistance here. Any stress here is going to affect you in some very serious ways.
Dr. Gundry (17:27):
Well, for our listeners, what’s an AHI?
James Nestor (17:31):
It’s Apnea-Hypopnea Index. I believe I got that right.
Dr. Gundry (17:35):
Yeah, you got it right. You got it right. Yeah.
James Nestor (17:38):
And that is the way they measure sleep apnea is they see how many times you are holding your breath for longer than 10 seconds.
Dr. Gundry (17:46):
James Nestor (17:47):
And lower sleep apnea is AHI of five. And it can go all the way up to 30 or 40 or 50, which is really bad news.
Dr. Gundry (17:57):
It is really scary. Yep. All right. So you, in the book, you say that lung capacity, which we’re alluding to right now, is the greatest indicator of life span. So come on. How does that work?
James Nestor (18:16):
A bunch of researchers in the eighties took 5,000 people and looked at 20 years of data and found that beyond genetics, beyond what these people ate, beyond how much they exercise, their lifespan was determined by their lung size. So healthier lungs, longer lungs, meant longer lives. So smaller lungs meant a shorter life. And this was with the Framingham Study, very well known study. All of the literature is out there and available. Because so much of… When you have larger lungs, you’re able to do more with less and your body, really wants to work efficiently. It’ll get oxygen, no matter what, we can breathe 40 times a minute. You’re going to get your oxygen. You’re going to completely cause so much wear and tear to your body. And so by allowing yourself to breathe fewer breaths and to do more with that, you can really help your body heal and balance it throughout the day.
Dr. Gundry (19:18):
Hey, podcast, listeners, Dr. Gundry here, and I need your help. I’m always trying to improve this podcast so I can bring the most valuable and insightful information to you, the listeners. In the show notes for each episode of this podcast, you’ll find a link to a survey. Please just take a few minutes to fill it out so I can learn more about you and what you would most like to hear us discuss on the show. Your opinion really matters. So thank you.
We all know that, inhaling air is obviously important to get oxygen in our lungs, but you say in the book that exhaling might be more important. Help us with this.
James Nestor (19:59):
Well, the only way to get it in a full nourishing breath is to get that old breath out, get that stale air out. So what a lot of us do is we’re breathing, especially when we’re working out, we’re just packing air on top of air, on top of air, but it’s going to be a lot more efficient for us because that stale air is filled with CO2 and you need to get it out to get in that new oxygenated air. So by exhaling more, by lifting that diaphragm up more, you then can acclimate yourself to that next inhale you take can be so much deeper and more nourishing. And again, it’s about efficiency.
Dr. Gundry (20:41):
Now you talk about, and I’ve actually written about this in the past, that for instance, running, mouth breathing, which so many runners, when they kind of reach a threshold switch over to mouth breathing, and it’s really a dumb idea, right?
James Nestor (21:04):
Well, you can think about the lungs as an external organ, right? If you’re breathing through the mouth, you’re not getting any of that filtration, any of that conditioning. So the lungs will be exposed to whatever is around you. And if you’re in a city, like I am, there’s a lot of pollutants. There’s a lot of allergens. And especially when you breathing at that race, at that rate, or if you’re in a race, just [inaudible 00:21:28], you were aggravating your lungs. And this is well known. So I think that long distance running, depending on how you do it, it could be probably injurious to your health. If you do it properly, if your nasal breathing, then I think that there could be a lot of benefits. The important thing, I heard this from a breathing therapist, is never work out harder than you can breathe correctly.
So if you’re reaching a plateau, you’re like, “Oh, I could… last week I was doing this much quicker.” Slow down acclimate to nasal breaths. And I assure you in a couple of weeks, or sometimes it takes a couple of months, you will be able to push it harder. You’ll recover faster and you’ll feel better at the end.
Dr. Gundry (22:14):
No, I think that’s very true. The other thing that has been shown physiologically is open mouth breathing while you’re running is actually activating the fight or flight response. And I mean, throws huge, a lot more adrenaline, more cortisol, which is not exactly what you want.
James Nestor (22:34):
It’s what you want in the short term. If you’re fighting a bear.
Dr. Gundry (22:38):
James Nestor (22:39):
If you’re fighting a bear, if you’re running away from someone who’s trying to rob you, I want adrenaline. I want glucose. I want to be meaner and leaner. But if you’re doing this throughout the day, which so many of us are doing these chronic lower grade states of sympathetic stress, constant inflammation, it’s going to wear you down. You look at the top diseases right now. So many of them are caused by this chronic stress, this chronic inflammation. So you definitely do not want to be in that state when you don’t have to be.
Dr. Gundry (23:17):
So speaking of lean and mean, so what does breathing have to do with our weight? I mean, come on, that’s getting oxygen. And that does make me skinny or fat.
James Nestor (23:28):
Yeah, this was a tangent I did not know existed and really fascinated me is if you lose 10 pounds of weight, eight and a half pounds of that comes out through your lungs. So this is our weight regulating system. It’s our lungs. So a lot of people say, “I’m going to lose weight. I’m going to burn it off.” But it doesn’t mean anything. You’re going to be blowing it off. But just to be clear, that doesn’t mean everyone should go out right now and try to exhale themselves. You’re going to be grossly disappointed, doesn’t work-
Dr. Gundry (24:05):
I can see a bestselling book in your future on that one, exhale yourself thin. Hmm. Let me call my agent.
James Nestor (24:13):
There actually was one a few years ago now, not too many scientific references in that one.
Dr. Gundry (24:17):
Anything to sell a book. Okay, so you can’t exhale yourself then.
James Nestor (24:26):
No, you have to increase your metabolism, break down triglycerides and you can’t do that by breathing more and more and more. Actually what’s going to happen, if you’re constantly over-breathing, you can enter into anaerobic states, you will be denying yourself proper circulation. It will be harder to burn off fat, fat needs oxygen to burn off, and you need to do that efficiently in your body.
Dr. Gundry (24:51):
You say in the book, and I totally agree with you that you need to be breathing less for better health. And what do you mean by that?
James Nestor (25:05):
Well, most of us do. I don’t want to make a blanket statement that some people with emphysema, with chronic underlying conditions, where they need to be breathing more, they need to expand their diaphragms, get more air in there. For the vast majority of us who don’t have these issues, there are huge benefits to breathing less, to breathing less air than you would ordinarily think would be proper. So what I mean by that is so many asthmatic, so many people with asthma, even people working out, tend to over breathe. And when we over-breathing our body, it’s like sitting in a car at a stop sign and just revving the motor. We’re causing a bunch of undue stress, wear and tear to our bodies doing this, and actually making it harder for ourselves to get oxygen to where we really need it, to our muscles, tissues and organs.
Dr. Gundry (25:57):
Now there’s a lot of interest in breath control techniques. Certainly the Iceman, Wim Hof it looks like physiologically most of everything he’s been able to accomplish is because of his control of breath. Tell me how controlling your breath affects for instance, our perception of pain, our perception of air hunger, is this all vagus [inaudible 00:26:33] related. Go with that.
James Nestor (26:38):
So for the past few thousand years, monks have been using this technique called Tummo, where they would breathe in the certain way to heat their bodies up. And there were stories over the past few centuries of people coming back and saying these monks, they’re shirtless, they’re in the snow. They’re melting a circle around themselves after sitting there for eight hours at a time, which seems totally impossible. Until the 1980s, when Herbert Benson at Harvard Medical School went out and actually conducted tests with these people and found it’s a hundred percent true. He put wet sheets on these guys in a cold room, and they were able to dry the sheets with their body heat.
So what we’ve found more recently is this type of breathing, this over-breathing, this Tummo breathing can actually have a huge effect on our health and can help people with chronic conditions, especially auto-immune problems, rebalance their nervous system, rebalance their immune systems. And they’re able to abate so many of the chronic symptoms of these diseases. And in some cases, outright healing them. This seems insane. There’s scientific proof to it. We’ve got the data and thousands of people are now doing this.
Dr. Gundry (27:52):
Yeah, I read most of her Benson studies and he’s fascinating. And that’s kind of a segue into how you open this book. Breath is, I think you went to a breathing class that you thought was pretty much of a joke and just tell our listeners about this thing that you kind of went to as a joke, and what happened to you.
James Nestor (28:22):
So I had all of these chronic breathing issues, not really bad, just kind of low grade, annoying, coughing a lot. And my doctor suggested I check out a breathing class. So I said, “Okay.” Went to this class, went in… I’m in San Francisco. So these things are all over the place. I picked one at random and sat in this room and followed along with this instruction, just sitting alone in a corner, legs crossed, not moving, breathing in this pattern. And I broke out into the most extreme sweat I’ve ever had in my life. Head was sopping wet. T-Shirt was wet, sweat stains on my jeans. And I thought, what the heck just happened to me? Other people in the class saw it. I think they were a little freaked out. I was a little freaked out, but I asked my doctor and she said, “Oh, you must had a fever or it must’ve been really hot in that room or you’re wearing too…”
None of that was true. So finally, after years of researching this and discovering Tummo and finding that this technique does so much of what Tummo does, it’s interesting to see that this stuff has actually been studied. They’ve seen the monks do this. Wim Hof can sit in an ice bath for two hours and his core temperature doesn’t go down, doesn’t get frostbite, doesn’t get hypothermia. That is supposed to be medically impossible, but people are doing it all the time. So it’s those mysteries and that potential, I think we’ve forgotten so many of these tricks, understand the true potential of the human body and breathing is such a huge part of that.
Dr. Gundry (29:58):
Yeah. And Wim Hof as you know and you describe he’s had himself injected with lipopolysaccharides, with bacterial cell wall, which ought to basically kill him, put him into septic shock. And he basically says, “Yeah, okay. That was nice. What’s next?”
James Nestor (30:20):
And then years after that, just to prove his point, everyone thought you’re a freak of nature. No one else can do this. He said, “Give me 10 guys and give me four days.” And so he put them through the program, taught them how to breathe, brought them all into the lab. They were able to do exactly what he did. No effect from [inaudible 00:30:41]. And so this is what really got scientists interested. And now he’s being studied all over the place, which is fantastic.
Dr. Gundry (30:49):
For our listeners, what the heck is Tummo breathing? I mean, you obviously can learn this. You can duplicate it, but describe it.
James Nestor (31:01):
It’s a very intense breathing technique, which this is going to sound so counterintuitive to people, but it creates stress in your body. So a lot of us are like, “Why do I want? Stress enough at work? Why do I want to do this?” When you have this chronic low grade stress, like throughout the day, we’re not running from bears anymore, right? We’re not fighting for our lives. So instead we just adapted to have this chronic low grade stress, which as I explained, is so damaging to us. Doing 20 minutes of this breathing, compounds that stress and re-balances your nervous system. So you do this breathing and it involves a lot of, I can’t lead you through the whole thing, but a lot of [inaudible 00:31:41] you’re really going for it. I feels fantastic.
And then the rest of the day, you can be in that relaxed and restorative state where your body can heal and you can chill out, which is why this is so effective for people with autoimmune diseases, anxiety, other problems associated with chronic stress.
Dr. Gundry (32:04):
Yeah. I think this is activating hormesis, which I write a lot about, or as a Fredrick, Nietzsche said that which doesn’t kill me, makes me stronger.
James Nestor (32:17):
That’s exactly right. And this is now being studied right down the street from University of San Francisco. They are using these techniques with people who have rheumatoid arthritis, other immune diseases to have that burst of real stress, a small acute doses of stress is what the body wants. We don’t want in the background on this feedback loop. And that study’s going to be released next week. And the inside scoop is they’re having huge benefits. The patients are.
Dr. Gundry (32:50):
Right. All right. So you’re not going to teach us Tummo breathing today, but give our listeners one exercise, one trick that they can do at home starting today, right after they turn off the podcast.
James Nestor (33:05):
Yeah. Tummo is a little intense. You want to acclimate yourself with some mild diversions, breathe through the nose, try some slow breathing first. So one method that seems so deceptively simple, people are going to say, “There’s no way this can work.” But just try it. It’s to inhale to a count of about six. So inhale calmly two, three, four, five, six, and exhale to a count of about six. Two, three, four, five, six. Keep breathing in that pattern. If you have a blood pressure monitor, put it on before you do this. And if you have a pulse oximeter, that’s good too. Heart rate variability is good as well. But just by breathing this way, we are increasing oxygenation to our brains. We’re slowing down our heart rate and we can have a huge impact on our blood pressure.
I have borderline higher blood pressure. I’ve done this for a couple of minutes and see my blood pressure go down 10 or 15 points. If you imagine that’s what happens to the body after a couple of minutes of focused, proper breathing, what can happen after a couple of days, what can happen after a couple of weeks or months. What we’re seeing these people are able to take control of their health in some miraculous ways.
Dr. Gundry (34:24):
Now I had a wonderful yoga instructor that moved to Ecuador. But during the class, he would always have us do tricks with nasal breathing that you mentioned in the book. And he would… And I’m going to let you describe it, but we would breathe from alternate size of our nose and we would compress one nose and we’d breathe in and we’d breathe out through the other nostril. And you say in the book that this was not mumbo-jumbo yoga practice, that this was actually activating either parasympathetic or sympathetic nervous systems. Yes.
James Nestor (35:10):
So there’s 20 years of studies on this stuff and dozens and dozens of studies confirming this. So when we breathe through our right nostril, that is more of a stimulating response. This isn’t a hardcore sympathetic response. So the heart rate’s going to increase, blood movement is going to increase. You’re going to get hotter. You’re going to be stimulating the left, quote-unquote logical side of your head, confirmed an EEG studies at very respected institutions. Left side, you’re going to calm yourself down. So your heart is going to slow down. You’re going to cool yourself off. You’re going to be stimulating more of the right creative side of your brain. So yogis have been doing this stuff for more than a thousand years, there’s a whole school called Nadi Shodhana where they practice this.
But I think it’s so fascinating that science is now confirming it. We can measure what happens when we do this stuff. And even stranger is our noses. Another miraculous thing with the nose here, are covered with erectile tissue. It’s the same tissue as you know where, and throughout the day, our noses will switch from right nostril breathing to left nostril breathing. One will open as the other closes every 30 minutes to about four hours. So no one knows exactly why our noses do this. But if you look at how these different nostril breaths affect us, it’s probably to help balance us throughout the day, stimulate us when we’re getting tired, calm us down when we’re getting stressed. So another reason you should be breathing through the nose and letting your nose do all that.
Dr. Gundry (36:55):
So wait a minute. So if I am feeling stressed and who isn’t now with COVID, so if somebody sees me and I’m pushing my right nostril close, I’m going to de-stress. And I’m just doing to tell somebody, you’re really stressing me out and I’m just breathing to de-stress.
James Nestor (37:13):
The point is to be balanced. So you don’t want to walk around and, Oh, God forbid someone just cruise around with tape over their right nostril and say, I’m going to chill out. No, we want to have a balance of being stimulated and calm. So before going to bed, yogis liked to lay their head on the right side because naturally this nostril is going to become more plugged and this nostril is going to open and it allows them to go to sleep better. So you can use little tricks like that. A lot of alternate nostril breathing is opening up both these channels and having a balance.
Dr. Gundry (37:52):
So is there any studies that show that people who sleep on their right side do better in terms of sleep quality than people who sleep on their left side?
James Nestor (38:06):
They have, yogis believed that by inhaling through the right nostril, you were able to create more heat in the body and digest better. And so they started studying this, but what they really found was that when we lie on our left side, the stomach naturally hangs in that direction. So it’s easier for us to digest food. So maybe the body heat comes into that to some degree, I don’t know, but left side after, and there’s been studies at University of Pennsylvania and one other institution looked at this, at sleeping on the left side after a meal.
Dr. Gundry (38:45):
Yeah. And actually as a thoracic surgeon who used to operate on esophaguses, we would always have our patients, if they’re going to bed after a meal, which we didn’t recommend in the first place, always sleep on their left side. And the right side was really forbidden. It actually increases reflux a lot. So, yeah. So I mean, there’s really good science behind all this. So, and I think that’s, what’s so fascinating about your book. This knowledge, this ancient knowledge, as you say, a lost art, I mean, this is millennials old. This is a new stuff, but now you’re putting science to these ancient techniques.
James Nestor (39:36):
Yeah. And my point is a journalist. I’m not a breathing therapist. I’m not a doctor. My point is a journalist is to go into these worlds and understand them and really look objectively at the science. It’s no benefit to me if I discovered mouth breathing is actually really healthy that might’ve even made for a more interesting book that’s not my point here. But the foundation of science, past century, and we’re talking at Harvard, they were studying this, Yale they were studying this, at Stanford they’ve been studying this for decades and decades. It’s just so much of this research hasn’t gotten out to the public for one reason or the other. So and again, what’s so interesting about breathing is it’s so easy to measure. If we can measure it, we can study it. And if we can study it, we can prove what it’s really doing to our bodies. And we’re seeing now with even more sophisticated measurement, it has a tremendous effect on our health, happiness, and likely even our lifespan.
Dr. Gundry (40:37):
Yeah. And I love it early in the book you talk about that pulmonologists really had no interest in this. They were interested in diseases to treat. And in my field, we used to have pitched battles with anesthesiologists and pulmonologist in particularly kids who we would operate on. And they loved to have endotracheal tubes in these kids, plastic tube down the windpipe, where you could control the breathing. And to us as surgeons that was actually the last thing we wanted because breathing is really good for you on your own and normal breathing. So there was always actually a pitched battle to this day between the pulmonary intensivist and the anesthesiologist who wanted to keep on a ventilator for days after surgery versus surgeons who wanted to pull the dumb tube immediately. And we actually at Loma Linda published paper of immediate extubation of children and adults on the table after open heart surgery. And they actually did far better than keeping them asleep for two days on a breathing machine.
James Nestor (41:57):
So you’re going to find this debate is still alive and well all over the place. I was told by several people, I won’t name them at universities who are instructors, who said, “How we breathe does not matter. Our bodies will always compensate.” Which is true. We have all of these mechanisms, which allow our body to compensate. That doesn’t mean we’re healthy. Why do you want to just get by compensating and wearing your body down over the years? Why not breathe in a way that benefits the body, allows you to do it more efficiently? And so talking to these people, I talked to dozens and dozens of doctors, leaders in the field, the science is there and I have 500 scientific references at the back of the book, if anyone wants to look it up and I’m adding more of these all the time.
And so I think that there is this gap in our understanding, like my father-in-law pulmonologists, he’s dealing with emergencies, which is fantastic. Someone has lung cancer, they need their lungs removed. These are essentials to help people live, but he’s not looking. He doesn’t have time or capacity, you’re looking at 20 patients in an hour to spend time and tell them how to breathe. You’re dealing with emergencies, which there’s no finger pointing here. That’s so wonderful. We have a system to help people in emergencies, but I think we really need to start looking into preventative maintenance right now, especially in the age of COVID knowing how respiratory health is a big indicator of how severe you’re going to be suffering from symptoms of COVID.
Dr. Gundry (43:34):
No, it’s very true. And in fact, in my line of work, if you had asked me 20 years ago, when I first became a Restorative Medicine Practitioner and got away from surgery, if the gut really had anything to do with our health, other than absorbing proteins and fats and carbohydrates, and then pooping the excess out, I would have said, “That’s what we were taught.” And yeah, we even we now know that Hippocrates was right 2,500 years ago, that all disease begins in the gut.
James Nestor (44:10):
Dr. Gundry (44:10):
The guy was right, unfortunately. So, and then the data is there. You’re right. And I’ve got 500 references in my books and half the people, unfortunately in medicine do not believe it, even though it’s incredibly well documented.
James Nestor (44:30):
Yeah. And you can get into those debates, into those arguments. You can only provide people with information. People are going to believe what they want to believe. Again, as in my role, as a journalist, I have no incentive, no slant to believe one person over the other. My job is to look at the data, look at the science and talk to the leaders in the field at the top institutions, which is what I did.
Dr. Gundry (44:56):
As Sergeant Joe Friday would say on Dragnet, “Just the facts ma’am, just the facts.”
James Nestor (45:02):
There you go. That’s right.
Dr. Gundry (45:04):
All right, James, it was fantastic having you on the show today. This is a great book folks, and I don’t say that often, and it’s a great read. It’s a fun read and go get this book. So where do people find all about you? Tell me all about it.
James Nestor (45:28):
Mrjamesnestor.com. Some jerk took James Nestor. So I had to put an mr in front of that.
Dr. Gundry (45:34):
James Nestor (45:34):
You can find all of the references. They’re there for free, there’s breathing instruction from experts in the field, a bunch of other resources, just available for everyone. And the rest of the story of course, is in the book itself.
Dr. Gundry (45:50):
All right. We’ll let you go on that note and get the book folks. It’s a great read. He’s a great writer and you’ll enjoy it.
James Nestor (46:00):
Dr. Gundry (46:00):
James, thanks a lot for being on the show.
James Nestor (46:02):
Thank you for having me.
Dr. Gundry (46:04):
Okay. It’s time for our audience question. Alan Mack on Instagram, [inaudible 00:46:10], “I thought onions were not good for your gut, shouldn’t we cleanse first.” So the allium family, which includes garlic and leeks and onions have some of the best polysaccharides fiber, prebiotic fiber for your gut bugs that I can possibly imagine. And quite frankly, the more of these allium family vegetables, you get into your diet, the happier your gut bugs are going to be, number one. And number two is you’ll see in the energy paradox, the more energy you will have, the more times you eat these allium family vegetables.
So it’s a win-win for everybody. Now, having said that there are a few people who react to either garlic or interestingly white onions, and we’ve identified those people. So if you notice that you think you don’t like onions, most of the time, if you change to a red onion or a purple onion, or even a yellow onion from the basic white onion, which most people pick up in the grocery store, and if you react to it raw, cook it and try experimenting with that. I think you’ll find that you’ll become a real fan of onions. I actually include onions in most of the things I cook on the stove. So great question.
Time for the review of the week. This week’s review comes from [BNC 00:47:59] on iTunes who left us a five star review. Thank you very much. And wrote, “I learned so much from your podcast, literally something, if not several things from each episode, thank you for explaining things so thoroughly and in a manner, very easy to understand even the complex subjects. So appreciate the in depth research you do, and you’re down to earth delivery.” Well, thank you very much BNC. And a big thank you for leaving us a review on iTunes. Every time you do that, it helps us grow our audience and make this movement for longer, healthier lives, even bigger. And we are a big movement and thanks to people like you, we’re getting bigger every day.
So the point is, if you have a minute today and you’re listening to this, please, please rate us and review us on iTunes. It actually makes a huge difference in reaching the sort of people, all of us, I hope, want me to reach. Okay. So that’s it for this week’s episode, we’ll see you next time because I’m Dr. Gundry and I’m always looking out for you and on iTunes podcasts. Thanks.
Thanks for joining me on this episode of The Dr. Gundry Podcast. Before you go, I just wanted to remind you that you can find the show on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts. And if you want to watch each episode of The Dr. Gundry Podcast, you can always find me on YouTube at youtube.com/DrGundry. Because I’m Dr. Gundry and I’m always looking out for you.