Breathe Initiative

2024 Trends

With the probability of a cancer diagnosis approaching one in two individuals, it becomes critically important to advocate for sustainable lifestyle choices that aim to diminish cancer risk before diagnosis, enhance the effectiveness of cancer treatments and decrease the likelihood of recurrence. The paradigm of cancer management is evolving towards earlier detection and enhanced treatment modalitieswith a key pillar of preemptive action through prevention. The insights and trends provided by the Wellness for Cancer Initiative shed light on future directions concerning lifestyle adjustments and highlight the breakthroughs in the domain of cancer precision medicine.


Slow Breathing is a Fast and Effective Tool for Stress Reduction

Our GWI Breathe Initiative member, Tanya Bentley, PhD, recently published a paper on the power of slow breathing for stress reduction.  The rising prevalence of anxiety and chronic stress plagues populations worldwide. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, anxiety disorders had already attained startlingly high proportions, affecting nearly one-third of Americans at some point during their lifetime. Since then, anxiety disorders have surged by an estimated 25.6% globally, and they burden the economy with healthcare costs and reduced productivity. Both above and below the clinical threshold, anxiety, and chronic stress impact physical, mental and cognitive health, increasing the risk of cardiometabolic disorders, cancer, mental illness, neurodegenerative disease and all-cause mortality. Chronic activation of the stress response induces allostatic overload, a cumulative ‘wear and tear’ on the brain and body that erodes resiliency and health. Common stress and anxiety treatments rely on external factors, such as a therapist or medication, and come with modest effect sizes or unfavorable side effects. Effective, accessible, and risk-free solutions are needed. Voluntary regulated breathing practices may offer such a solution.”

It was proven that slow breathing does offer a fast and effective result for lowering stress, especially if you use these four criteria:

1. Use any slow breathing technique (for example, extended exhales or box breathing)
2. On your first time trying a breath practice, do it with human guidance to be sure you understand the practice.
3. Do the protocols for at least five minutes at a time.
4. Continue to practice often.

Breathing Practices for Stress and Anxiety Reduction: Conceptual Framework of Implementation Guidelines Based on a Systematic Review of the Published Literature

Nasal Breathing Helps Prevent Pathogen Inhalation

During Covid, we became acutely aware of how quickly germs can spread in the transfer of air that we breathe. GWI Breathe Initiative member Patrick McKeown, founder of Oxygen Advantage, and author of The Breathing Cure, says, “Few of the body’s organs play as important a role as the nose. As mentioned above, tiny hairs called cilia and the presence of nitric oxide are just some of the ways in which the nose prevents pathogens from entering your bloodstream and causing sickness or infection. If you have a respiratory issue like asthma or allergies, your ability to breathe properly will be affected negatively by mouth breathing. The nose is a vital part of the body’s defense system. It filters out foreign materials that may contain bacteria or viruses while allowing oxygen into our lungs. It also filters out many of the pollutants we encounter every day that negatively affect our breathing.”

People are recognizing the significance of maintaining a healthy immune system through the simple practice of nasal breathing, which offers numerous filtration benefits.

Source: The Role of Nose Breathing in Preventing Pathogen Inhalation

Nasal Breathing is Key for Optimal Sleep

Nasal breathing supports optimal respiratory function, whereas chronic mouth breathing can lead to a host of issues with oral health, snoring and sleep apnea, affecting daytime cognition, energy and even memory. Incorporating strategies to promote nasal breathing, such as maintaining nasal hygiene, addressing nasal congestion or allergies, and practicing relaxation techniques before bedtime, can help optimize sleep outcomes. An article in Outside Online says, “Nasal breathing enables you to spend more time in slow-wave deep sleep and less time in light sleep, but roughly half of the population breathes through their mouth while sleeping,” according to Patrick McKeown.

Source: Daily Habits for Better Sleep/Outdoor

Mindful Breath is an Immediate Antidote to Digital Overwhelm

The mindful breath serves as a fast and effective antidote to digital overwhelm by offering a means of grounding oneself in the present moment and creating an opportunity to pause from continuous digital distractions. Today’s hyper-connected world, with constant exposure to screens and information overload, can lead to stress, anxiety and mental fatigue. Engaging in mindful breathing practices allows us to disengage from the digital frenzy and strike a healthier balance between technology and humanity.

In a Utilities One article, Strategies for Managing Digital Overload for Mental Wellness,According to a survey by the American Psychological Association, constant digital connectivity can contribute to higher stress levels. The overconsumption of digital media has been linked to a decrease in attention span and an increase in feelings of anxiety and depression. Studies have shown that excessive screen time can disrupt our sleep patterns, leading to fatigue and lower cognitive performance. It is clear that digital overload can have a detrimental effect on our mental well-being.

Health/Gut Connection Helps Digestion

Slow, nourishing breathing practices are beneficial for gut health to activate the relaxation response in the body, which in turn promotes improved digestion and overall gut function. When we engage in deep breathing exercises, such as diaphragmatic breathing or belly breathing, it activates the parasympathetic nervous system, also known as the “rest and digest” system. “The digestive system is often the first organ system to be affected by stress because of the constant communication that occurs between the brain and the gut (referred to as the brain-gut axis), and research has shown that chronic stress can be a contributor to digestive disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome or chronic heartburn. The stress response can cause the muscles of the gut to slow down or spasm and can affect how the brain interprets pain signals from the gut. The good news is, you can learn to control your stress response through behavioral strategies, such as deep breathing.” Sarah Kinsinger, PhD.

Source: “How Breathing Exercises Relieve Stress and Improve Digestive Health”


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