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Support a healthy respiratory system

The efficiency of our breathing can be affected by a host of reasons including stress levels, posture, trauma and anatomy. Hyperventilation, yawning, sighing, breath-holding, speaking quickly can all be signs your nervous system is heightened, and that you need to let the parasympathetic nervous system, the ‘rest and restore’ part of our nervous system, bring you down.

Pulling air into the body and then releasing waste product carbon dioxide involves large sets of muscles. Research has shown that most people use just 25% of their breathing capacity, tending to focus either into the top of the chest or just in the belly. Breath consciousness in yoga postures helps us feel and engage breath through the whole respiratory system and feel its currents right down to the pelvic floor and up into the head.

The respiratory system includes the nose, throat, voice box, windpipe and lungs. The entire respiratory system is covered by a mucosal lining where our immune system lives ready to fight off any possible invaders. Even if you have never picked up a cigarette in your life, sadly the level of pollution in the air is alarming, especially in built up areas and cities. Strengthening your respiratory system is helpful for all as you will be strengthening a body system that comes into frequent contact with possible invaders including allergens, bacteria and viruses.

Maintaining a healthy weight is key to supporting a healthy respiratory system as excess weight puts more stress on your lungs and compresses all respiratory muscles, making them working harder and less efficiently.

Staying well hydrated gives a thin lining to the mucus lining your airway and lungs. Dehydration can cause this to thicken and cause irritation and inflammation. Aim to drink 2-2.5 litres of total fluid per day which can include herbal teas.

Obviously it goes without saying that smoking causes damage to the respiratory system. Damage can also be done just by passively breathing in smoke by inducing inflammation, speeding oxidative stress in respiratory cells and even causing cell death. Smokers are at an increased risk of developing emphysema, chronic lung disease, chronic bronchitis and lung cancer. Get support to help to help quit from your local pharmacy or medical provider.

Be sure to get lots of B vitamins in your diet to support healthy methylation. Methylation is a process that happens in the DNA of every cell and helps to support the body fight against cancer and amongst other things. Food sources of B vitamins include whole grains, eggs, meat and dark green leafy vegetables.

Eat a rainbow everyday. Fresh colourful fruits and vegetables are loaded with antioxidants which helps fight free radical damage caused by pollution in the air.