Plato fasting

Fasting: History and Purposes

The History and Use of Fasting

The use of fasting has a long and ancient history as a healing process and a spiritual-religious process. It has been a tradition in most religions including Christianity, Judaism and the Eastern religions to purify the system and enhance communion with god or higher sources or intelligences.

For many ancient philosophers, scientists, and physicians, fasting was an essential part of life, health, resistance to disease and recovery from illness. These included Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Galen and the forefather of modern medicine, Hippocrates, from whom we derive the ‘Hippocratic Oath’.  Many yogis have used fasting as an excellent health measure.

Juice fasting may be used in treatment plans for many diseases, to increase our natural resistance to disease, to detoxify from drugs, alcohol or coffee, to promote transformation or life transition, or to provide increased mental clarity and spiritual awareness.

Some of the chronic conditions for which fasting may be beneficial as a part of the treatment plan are listed as follows:

  • Colds and flus – and prevention of these
  • Respiratory tract infections
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Digestive complaints – constipation, diarrhoea, indigestion, IBS, food allergies/sensitivities, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s Disease
  • Asthma
  • Allergies
  • Skin conditions
  • Insomnia
  • CVD disorders – atherosclerosis, hypertension, HBP, coronary artery disease, angina pectoris
  • Fatigue – in many cases
  • Mental illness – in some cases
  • Immune conditions – hypersensitivities, auto-immune conditions

Fasting is very versatile and generally fairly safe; however it should not be used without proper supervision from an experienced health practitioner who can monitor physical, physiological and biochemical changes.

Find out about the Benefits of Fasting and Fasting Programs Offered through naturopath, Tim Altman. Phone 0425 739 9148 or email.

Juice Fasting

Fasting As a Solution To Optimal Health

Introduction to Fasting

Fasting is a process that allows us to see from direct experience the incredible innate healing and restorative powers that our bodies possess as well as the incredible inherent capacity for health that we all possess as our birthright – a capacity for which most people only ever experience a fraction of its ultimate potential.

In his book ‘Staying Healthy With Nutrition’, Dr Elson, M Haas M.D. describes fasting as nature’s ancient, universal “remedy” for many problems and the single greatest natural healing therapy. Animals instinctively fast when ill. It is the oldest treatment known to us, the instinctive therapy for many illnesses, nature’s doctor and knifeless surgeon and the greatest therapist and tool for preventing disease.

Further, Dr Haas calls fasting, or the cleansing process, the “missing link in the Western diet”.

Most of the conditions for which fasting is recommended are ones that result from the discord to the human system created Western diet and lifestyle. Conditions which are best described as resulting from “chronic sub-clinical malnourishment” (despite having more choice than ever before in human history) in the face of severe “over-consumption or over-nutrition”. In other words, we consume excessive amounts of toxic nutrients such as refined sugars, saturated and trans fats, and chemicals, yet receive inadequate amounts of essential vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and essential fats.

These conditions are the chronic degenerative diseases including:

  • Atherosclerosis
  • Heart disease
  • Cancer
  • Stroke
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Allergies
  • Chronic immune system disorders or deficiencies.
  • Weight Loss – via intermittent fasting only.

Over 90% of deaths in Western countries result from these chronic degenerative disorders. Indeed, ignorance (of how to live in accordance with nature) may be our greatest disease.

Fasting is therapeutic and, more importantly, preventative of many of these diseases.

The term fasting here is used to describe the avoidance of solid foods and the intake of liquids only and we offer mainly juice fasts. Juice fasts support the body nutritionally by providing some of the essential nutrients it requires whilst offering a deep and profound cleansing and detoxification of the system.

Dr Haas describes detoxification via fasting as an important “corrective and rejuvenating process in our cycle of nutrition” (balancing and building being other processes), and a time when we allow our cells to “breathe out, become current and restore themselves”.

It was through the use of fasting to heal a very chronic and debilitating illness that I became involved in natural medicine and nutrition. It literally changed my life and gave me a completely new outlook on food and the incredible innate capacity our bodies have for health if we only take a step back and live our lives naturally in accord with how our evolutionary history has modelled our systems’ to function optimally.

Instead of suffocating my cells and organs via overconsumption of processed and refined foods and ‘new to nature’ chemicals, I simply started eating and living naturally. As such, I have continued to fast occasionally and have continued to enjoy the preventative, healing and transformative benefits that this beautiful and natural cleaning process avails.

Intermittent fasting, or fasting over smaller intervals, but more regularly, has been heavily researched and implemented as an extremely effective solution for reducing weight and inflammation (that contributes to most of the chronic degenerative disorders we suffer and die from).

We now offer a variety of fasting options to clients as a fantastic way of enhancing wellness, slowing down ageing, treating a variety of illnesses and increasing resistance to disease.

Contact me via email, tim@timaltman.com.au or 0425 739 918 to book in or discuss what type of fast would most suit you. I offer consultations in Melbourne and Torquay, or online via Skype…

Mickel Therapy

There Is a Cure for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

Article: Queensland Scientists Make Chronic Fatigue Breakthrough

Linked below is an article outlining that Queensland scientists have made a world first breakthrough in discovering a link between chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and  a dysfunctional immune system.

More specifically, “Griffith University’s National Centre for Neuroimmunology and Emerging Diseases identified a defective cell receptor that appeared to be central to the development of CFS and the related myalgic encephalomyelitis.”

Queensland’s Science Minister Leeanne Enoch said; “This discovery is great news for all people living with CFS and the related Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME), as it confirms what people with these conditions have long known – that it is a ‘real’ illness – not a psychological issue.”

“CFS and ME are notoriously difficult to diagnose, with sufferers often going for years without getting the proper care and attention they need.

“Currently, there is no effective treatment.”

The two diseases are believed to affect 250,000 Australians, with diagnosis, treatment and management estimated to cost more than $700 million annually.

This is a fantastic breakthrough given the anguish and frustration so many sufferers go through in tying to even get a diagnosis or recognition for their ails.

However I take issue with one comment made by Ms Enoch. That is that current there is no effective treatment.

Is that based on their research. But, have they researched all treatments?

I am just a clinician at the coal face of CFS who has specialised in treating it for almost 20 years now, and I lack the time and resources to conduct my own studies, but I definitely do my own research to better treat my clients, and I do believe there are extremely effective treatments. Dare I say it, even cures for CFS.

I am very comfortable in saying that Mickel Therapy which I adopted as a clinician 3 years ago, is one such cure. This technique takes a major paradigm shift by taking the attention or search for the cause of CFS to higher levels in the brain, which regulate the rest of the systems in the body.

Mickel Therapy, developed in 1999 by a medical doctor (Dr David Mickel) which seeks to address problems with the Hypothalamus gland in the brain. This gland which normally regulates everything in the body becomes overactive creating a wide range of symptoms.

Another way of putting it is Mickel Therapy works by identifying the emotional, mental and behavioural factors which drive the hypothalamus into overdrive, and consequently create physical symptoms.

From the evolutionary medicine perspective, the Mickel technique looks at what should be a harmonious working relationship between how we process emotion and how we think (therefore how we process stress), and makes significant, action based change with the effectiveness of this relationship, or how we process stress.

I have been very humbled by guiding and witnessing dozens of complete recoveries from CFS, fibromyalgia, adrenal fatigue, anxiety, depression and IBS using this technique in this time.

If you suffer from CFS, fibromyalgia, IBS, anxiety/depression, auto-immune illness (or know someone who does) feel free to contact me and discuss whether Mickel Therapy would be suitable for you.

 

http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2017/02/21/queensland-scientists-make-chronic-fatigue-breakthrough

 

Snoring 3

Breathing Dynamics Solutions for Snoring and Sleep Apnoea

Breathing Dynamics for the Treatment and Prevention of Snoring and Sleep Apnoea

Snoring is the resultant sound caused by vibration of respiratory structures (usually the uvula and soft palate) due to obstructed air movement during breathing whilst sleeping. The blockage in the airways can be due to a number of reasons:

  • Obesity – fat gathering in and around the throat.
  • Dental Reasons – mispositioned jaw, caused by tension in the muscles.
  • Alcohol or drugs relaxing throat muscles.
  • Throat weakness – causing it to close during sleep.
  • Nasal passage and sinus obstruction.
  • Obstructive sleep apnoea – indeed snoring can be one of the first symptoms or signs of sleep apnoea in a person, and is almost always present in sleep apnoea.
  • Sleeping on the back – leading to the tongue dropping to the back of the mouth.
  • The tissues at the top of the airways touching each other.

Whilst incidences of snoring can vary, it is estimated that at least 30% of adults snore.

The impact of snoring occurs both for the snorer and those who sleep with or near them. The impact can include sleep deprivation, daytime drowsiness, lack of energy and focus, irritability, decreased libido and potential psychological problems.

Research on snoring has confirmed an association or correlation of snoring with a number of diseases, including:

  • A correlation between loud snoring and increased risk of heart attack (+34%) and stroke (+67%).
  • Development of carotid artery atherosclerosis (due to turbulence in the artery closes to the airways).
  • Risk of brain damage.
  • Significant improvement of marital relations following correction of snoring.
  • Treatment of Snoring
  • Treatment options for snoring are varied and can depend on the believed causative factor. All treatments focus on clearing the blockage in the breathing passage. Treatments range from:
  • Weight loss
  • Cessation of smoking.
  • Reduction of alcohol consumption.
  • Having patients sleep on their side.
  • Over the counter aids – nasal sprays, nasal strips, nose clips, lubricating sprays, anti-snore pillows and clothing.
  • Dental appliances – splints (mandibular advancement splints – are far more compliant than CPAP machines).
  • The Pillar Procedure – surgical insertion of strips to strengthen the soft palate.
  • CPAP machines – continuous positive airway pressure machines – mainly for sleep apnoea. Is quite invasive as it requires wearing a mask and having a machine beside the bed (that can be noisy). Compliance is as low as 13%.
  • Surgery – i.e. removal of tissue in the back of the throat (although this involves risks of side effects, including scarring), or turbinate coblation (removing obstruction caused by enlarged turbinates in the nose).
  • Pharmaceuticals drugs or herbal preparations.

Breathing Retraining to Prevent and Treat Snoring

Note: it is recommended you read the previous blogs on breathing,  nose breathing and the Bohr Effect, relevant to snoring on this website prior to reading this section, as the following is a simplified summary based on a knowledge of this theory.

The Breathing Dynamics approach to snoring addresses an aspect that is prevalent in most snorers. That is mouth breathing at night.

Up to 6 times the volume of air can travel in and out of the mouth compared to the nostrils. Given the anatomical, physiological and biochemical make-up of our respiratory system is designed for us to breathe through our nose, the increased volume of air flow experienced during mouth breathing can not only increase the air flow in the throat and likelihood that any obstruction or loose tissue will rattle, it can seriously upset our blood chemistry and reduce delivery of oxygen from our arterial blood to our cells for energy production (based on ‘The Bohr Effect’) and lead to smooth muscle constriction or spasm in the respiratory, circulatory, lymphatic, urinary and digestive systems (any systems that involve tubes). This can obviously lead to a number of symptoms throughout the body.

In addition, in normal breathing (according to diagnostic norms), not only should you breathe through the nostrils only, your tongue should rest at the roof of the mouth, preventing it from falling to the floor of the mouth and obstructing the throat (as is often the case during mouth breathing). An obstructed throat at night can or will usually results in snoring. When you breathe through your nose, with your mouth closed, your tongue will naturally sit at the roof of your mouth.

The objective in breathing retraining is to:

  1. Ensure that the mouth is closed at night – there are a number of techniques to achieve this, sometimes initially involving the use of other techniques or interventions such as dental splints or retrainers (especially if there is obstruction due to the positioning of the mandible) in addition to our techniques, but, over time, this can become habitual.

  2. Retrain the person to habitually breathe at all times using the nose, not the mouth. This second aspect takes time and requires the use of breath hold techniques to increase the body’s tolerance to elevated CO2 levels (as are seen when breathing through the nose and with patterns that promote breathing at the right rate and volumes) and CapnoTrainer biofeedback technology to retrain functional breathing patterns that will have your body become more comfortable with nose breathing and slower breathing rates with reduce volumes of air flow.

Once your body becomes more used to breathing with mouth closed (except when eating or talking/singing), and with reduced air flow and breathing rate, this eventually becomes more habitual.

To book in for a consultation to see Tim regarding the use of Breathing Dynamics to prevent or treat asthma, email Tim or call 0425 739 918.

Alternatively, the Breathing Dynamics for snoring and subsequent breathing retraining techniques and rhythm development can be purchased via the shop section of this website.

breathing dynamics

Asthma is a Breathing Issue. And Breathing Retraining is BY FAR the Best Solution for Asthma

Breathing Dynamics for Prevention & Treatment of Asthma

Asthma is defined by the Global Initiative for Asthma as “a chronic inflammatory disorder of the airways in which many cells and cellular elements play a role. The chronic inflammation is associated with airway hyper-responsiveness that leads to recurrent episodes of wheezing, breathlessness, chest tightness and coughing particularly at night or in the early morning. These episodes are usually associated with widespread, but variable airflow obstruction within the lung that is often reversible either spontaneously or with treatment”.

Asthma is clinically classified according to the frequency of symptoms, forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1), and peak expiratory flow rate. Asthma may also be classified as atopic (extrinsic) or non-atopic (intrinsic), based on whether symptoms are precipitated by allergens (atopic) or not (non-atopic).
Asthma is caused by environmental and genetic factors. These factors influence how severe asthma is and how well it responds to medication. The interaction is complex and not fully understood.

Studying the prevalence of asthma and related diseases such as eczema and hay fever have yielded important clues about some key risk factors. The strongest risk factor for developing asthma is a history of atopic disease (hypersensitivity or allergic diseases – eczema or atopic dermatitis, hay fever or allergic rhinitis; atopic conjunctivitis). This increases one’s risk of hay fever by up to 5× and the risk of asthma by 3-4×. In children between the ages of 3-14, a positive skin test for allergies and an increase in immunoglobulin E increases the chance of having asthma. In adults, the more allergens one reacts positively to in a skin test, the higher the odds of having asthma.

Research is also beginning to show a strong correlation between the development of asthma and obesity.

Asthma is probably one of the world’s most over-diagnosed and over-medicated ailments.

According to Associate Professor Colin Robertson, Respiratory Physician at the Royal Children’s Hospital, 80 percent of children diagnosed with asthma may have symptoms induced by exercise; therefore the community at large perceives asthma in a certain way. This can be positive in the sense that the problem can be easily recognised, however sometimes other respiratory conditions can mimic asthma.

Professor Robertson suggests, “Doctors, relatives and enthusiastic physical education teachers can mistake a child who exercises and gets out of breath as having asthma when they are actually just unfit”.

“This gets interpreted as Exercise Induced Asthma (EIA) but it doesn’t respond to anti-asthma therapy. What they need is breathing exercises to learn how to control it. It is a simple effective intervention and it is important for people to know that it exists”

Medications for Asthma

Medications used to treat asthma are divided into two general classes: relievers or quick-relief medications used to treat acute symptoms; and preventers or long-term control medications used to prevent further exacerbation.

Relievers which include Ventolin, Bricanyl and Spiriva are recommend to be used only for relief or tightness or breathlessness. They are adrenaline based so they increase heart rate and over use can be dangerous, or even fatal. Those who use relievers more than 3 times per week are considered being at risk and are recommended to cut back dosage.

As a result of these dangers, long acting steroid preventers were produced to suppress the immune reaction or inflammation and hypersensitivity in the body, and therefore reduce reliever usage. These medications are usually inhaled gluco-corticoid steroids and include Flixotide, Pulmicort and Alvesco.

A third group of asthma medications have now been developed that combine the reliever and preventer medications. These include Seretide (the most widely prescribed asthma drug in the world) and Symbicort. These combination drugs were produced as a result of dangers caused by the development of high-potency, long acting reliever medication which, as people were getting longer lasting relief, they often discontinued use of their preventer. After several hundred deaths (due to over-exposure to adrenalin), a solution was devised to combine preventer medication with reliever to prevent patients.

The problem with the combination drugs is that each puff of Seretide or Symbicort contains around 4-6 puffs of Ventolin. Given steroid preventers were developed in the first place to prevent patients using more than 3 puffs of reliever weekly (remember that more than 3 puffs per week were considered risky), these combination drugs actually increase the dosage of Ventolin to up to 24 puffs per day!!!

The irony of the medical approach to asthma and breathing difficulties is that, whilst these medications relieve symptoms in the short term, they can exacerbate or cause asthma and breathing difficulties in the long term.

For example, adrenaline based reliever medication opens the airways and relaxes smooth muscle which eases symptoms in the short term. But, adrenaline causes the breathing rate to rise which, over time leads to over-breathing.

And, steroid based preventer medication reduces inflammation in the lungs, reduces breathing rate on a short term basis and suppresses the immune system response, which results in less asthma symptoms in the short term. But, the suppressed immune system response leads to more colds and flus, and chest and lung infections – which, ultimately, result in over-breathing.

As we will see now, over-breathing plays a major role in creation of asthma and breathing difficulty symptoms, and correction of over-breathing is fundamental to reduction in symptoms and reliance of pharmaceutical drugs.

The Breathing Dynamics Approach

Note it is recommended you read many of the blogs on ‘Breathing Dynamics’ or ‘Respiratory Therapy’ on this website prior to reading this section, as the following is a simplified summary based on a knowledge of this theory.
The Breathing Dynamics approach to dealing with asthma is to look for the ‘root cause’ of asthma. It is not a disease as such – more a condition that can be managed.

Based on “The Bohr Effect” we know that low arterial blood levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) will lead to haemoglobin having a higher affinity for oxygen, and therefore O2 is not released into tissues for energy production. As a result of lower CO2 levels, the body will cause restriction in smooth muscle to prevent CO2 loss (and as a result reduced release of O2 into cells).

In asthma, this constriction of smooth muscle occurs in the airways and alveoli in the lungs resulting in inflammation and spasm in the respiratory system, and ultimately, breathing difficulties such as wheezing and shortness of breath.

We know also that over-breathing results in reduced arterial blood levels of CO2. So, it can be logically deduced, that over-breathing plays a significant role in the pathology seen in asthma.

Also, generally those who over-breathe tend to be sympathetic nervous system dominant (see general breathing notes), which produces the ‘fight or flight’ reaction in the body. This reaction causes a surge of adrenaline in the system and leads to a cascade of other reactions in the body including elevated heart rate, breathing rate and, amongst other things, elevated histamine levels.

Elevated histamine levels will promote or increase immune system hypersensitivity associated with asthma.

Therefore, in dealing with asthma via breathing retraining, we aim to correct over-breathing in order to:

  1. Elevate arterial CO2 levels – reducing smooth muscle constriction and spasm in the airways and alveoli.
  2. Balance the autonomic nervous system – (between sympathetic and parasympathetic enervation) to reduce adrenaline and histamine levels.

This is achieved by a number of techniques aimed at:

  1. Breathing through the nose at all times – including at night and during low level exercise (and even higher levels over time with training).
  2. Increasing brain tolerance to elevated plasma CO2 levels (via breath hold and breathing rhythm techniques) to allow the body to be comfortable with lowered breathing rates and volumes.
  3. Developing breathing rhythms using CapnoTrainer biofeedback technology aimed at maintaining elevated plasma CO2 levels and keeping the airways nice and open – therefore preventing the likelihood of constriction and inflammation in the airways and reducing elevated histamine and adrenaline.

Once developed, all of these techniques can be replicated long term, turned into one’s habitual breathing pattern, and offer not only prevention of breathing difficulties and asthma, but also allow optimal respiratory function. And once trained, the practice is free!!

There is now an overwhelming amount of evidence supporting the use of breathing retraining in the management of respiratory disorders such as asthma.

One study published in 2006 in ‘Thorax’ a highly respected International Journal of Respiratory Medicine, found that in a 30 month, double blind randomized trial of two different breathing techniques in the management of asthma, confirmed that both groups achieved an 86% reduction in bronchodilator reliever medication and a 50% reduction in the dosage of inhaled cortisone medication.

My clinical experiences in treating asthma using Breathing Dynamics or breathing retraining have certainly echoed these results.

To book in for a consultation to see Tim regarding the use of Breathing Dynamics to prevent or treat asthma, email Tim or call 0425 739 918.

 

Breathing

Your Breathing Will Determine Whether You Are Relaxed or Anxious – It’s All Under Your Control!!

Diaphragmatic Breathing Helps You to Regulate Your Nervous System

Functional (or optimal) breathing using the nose and diaphragm plays a very major role in regulating the two aspects of the autonomic nervous system – the sympathetic and parasympathetic aspects. It serves to balance them. Something which, as observed from previous discussion, is not achieved by mouth or over-breathing which serves to maintain us in sympathetic nervous system dominance (or ‘fight or flight’ responsiveness) for most of our lives. As most of us have developed into over-breathers over our lives, this pertains to us all.

The diaphragm in particular, plays a major role in sympathetic/parasympathetic nervous system balance in two ways:

  1. Balance between the contraction and subsequent recoil of the diaphragm helps balance SNS & PSNS activity.
  2. The predominance or abundance of SNS and PSNS in different parts of the lung. 

Firstly, the contraction of the diaphragm on inhalation requires sympathetic nervous system input to fire the contraction and resultant flattening of the diaphragm which draws the lungs down and allows air to fill the lungs – particularly the lower lobes. The exhalation however involves switching off the SNS driven contraction of the diaphragm allowing it to return or recoil back to its original position. This is driven by PSNS activation which acts as a complementary opposition (in this case) to the SNS. As stated, it relaxes the diaphragm or switches off the contraction leading to the recoil or return of the diaphragm to its resting state.

Breathing Man Inhalation

 

 

Breathing Man Exhalation

 

Most over breathers use the accessory muscles of breathing as the dominant muscles of respiration, to the detriment of optimal diaphragmatic breathing. As such the diaphragm becomes weak or atonic and loses its flexibility. We have found via CapnoTrainerTM biofeedback equipment and general clinical observation that, over-breathers have most difficulty controlling their exhalation. It ends up being shorter in duration than the inhalation. Diagnostic norms suggest, however, that the inhalation:exhalation ratio is ideally 2:3, and therefore the exhalation is ideally 50% longer than inhalation.

As a result of this imbalance in the inhalation:exhalation ratio, the ANS becomes SNS dominant.

At Breathing Dynamics we focus on creating a balance between inhalation and exhalation, and therefore balance in the autonomic nervous system. The result of this nervous system balance can positively affect many other functions of the body that are under the influence of, or are regulated by, the ANS. For example, we regularly see positive effects from diaphragmatic breathing on:

  • The brain and neurotransmitter levels – Increased PSNS enervation naturally elevates serotonin and melatonin and, as such, we regularly see great results with anxiety & depression and sleep quality via diaphragmatic breathing retraining.
  • The digestive system – diaphragmatic breathing often yields great results with digestive complaints such as IBS, constipation and reflux. After all, a system that is sympathetic dominant will inhibit the digestive system, whereas, one that is parasympathetic dominant (via diaphragm breathing) will encourage it.
  • The circulatory system – allowing greater blood flow to the brain and peripheral areas, resulting in great benefits for headaches and migraines, cold extremities, skin quality etc.
  • The lymphatic system – as the diaphragm helps to act as a constant pump for lymphatic system – which is reliant on muscular contraction for flow.
  • The urinary system.
  • And more.

Secondly, as previously stated, mouth breathing originally (or from an evolutionary perspective) served as an emergency function in response to an acute stressor. Generally, the chest muscles are mostly used when mouth breathing (instead of the diaphragm – unless you have received previous training) which predominantly fills the upper and middle lobes of the lungs, and less so the lower lobes. The upper lobes of the lungs are rich in SNS receptors which, when activated, serve to accentuate the requirement of the body to respond in emergency fashion – or via a ‘fight or flight’ mechanism. This serves a specific function. An example of this would be when we gasp in response to being frightened or surprised.

But it was not designed to be our predominant mode of functioning.

On the other hand, when breathing uses predominantly the diaphragm (as in optimal breathing), the larger, lower lobes of the lungs are comfortably filled allowing for more gas exchange. And respiration is far more efficient. In addition, the lower lobes are rich in PSNS receptors which allows for a balance between the PSNS and SNS and a correction of our predominant ‘fight or flight’ functioning.

When breathing ‘diaphragmatically’ and through the nose it is common to experience relaxation and a calming of the mind. It also gives athletes greater access to ‘zone like’ or ‘alpha’ states during exercise or competition, which generally involve higher levels of PSNS activation than in normal waking states.

The table below shows a comparison in terms of effects between breathing with the diaphragm as the driver of respiration as opposed to predominantly using the chest muscles or other accessory breathing muscles. Whilst, not all of the points listed in the table are covered in the general information, they are covered when we introduce the ‘Breathing Dynamics’ optimal breathing rhythm in courses or via online training modules.

Diaphragmatic Breathing Breathing Using Accessory Muscles
Fills blood rich lower lobes of the lung first. Fills predominantly upper & middle lobes of the lungs.
Allows use of full lung capacity for gas exchange and removal of wastes.Creates a more rhythmic, reduces breathing rate via control of the recoil on exhalation.

Activates PSNS receptors in lower lobes. PSNS and SNS are balanced.

Full use of lungs compromised.
Breathing rate is elevated and rhythm is more random.Activates SNS stress receptors in upper/mid lobes and SNS dominates.
Stimulates ‘rest and digest or rejuvenate’ response. Activates ‘fight or flight’ response.
Diaphragm is strong and elastic. Diaphragm becomes weak and atonic.
Allows for relaxed, rhythmic and efficient respiration. Requires more work and higher breathing & heart rate to achieve efficient respiration.
Sinuses remain clear due to constant air flow through them. Sinuses become congested from discontinued use.
Facilitates lymphatic drainage and circulation to heart, lungs, ribs and chest via the ‘pump’ like action of the diaphragm. Lymphatic drainage and circulation to heart, lungs, chest and rib cage compromised.
The ‘Pump’ like action also facilitates efficient functioning of digestive organs (i.e. peristalsis), urinary organs and sexual organs all located in the abdominal cavity. Function of organs in the abdominal cavity compromised.
Ribs and chest allowed to move in their full range of activity and remain flexible. Ribs and chest become inflexible.
Thoracic spine remains flexible. Thoracic spine at insertion of ribs becomes stiff and rigid.
Neck and shoulders not overworked. Neck and shoulders become tight.

 

 

fight or flight response

The World We Created Causes Us to Over Breathe

What is the Cause of Over Breathing?

I’ve already written about the importance of breathing to our health, the biochemistry and mechanics of breathing, what optimal breathing looks like and what it doesn’t look like, so it is now time to discuss the cause of dysfunctional breathing or over breathing.

In short, STRESS CAUSES OVER-BREATHING. More specifically, we become conditioned to respond to stress by over-breathing or mouth breathing as an emergency response.

Our innate response to stress is the ‘fight or flight’ state which is an evolutionary response to a perceived threat, and served to effect changes in our bodies that prioritise or make us more capable of ‘fighting’ or ‘fleeing’. For example, if a wild animal poses a threat to our safety, we choose to either fight or flee the source of this extreme stress. In this evolutionary example, the stressor either goes away either by us successfully fighting or fleeing the animal. Or we die. There was indeed an “emergency” that asked for a body/mind response that called upon all of our resources. With the removal of the stress, our physiology returns back to a basal level and we return to the tasks of living.

The modern stressors we deal with are, more often than not, far less threatening to our safety. Whilst the the sources of stress are often far less severe, due to the culture we have created being far different to the environment our bodies evolved or adapted to, they are far more chronic or long lasting. Unfortunately we do not often return to this basal low level (or zero level) of stress we predominantly existed in (outside of emergencies) in times past. As a result we reduce our body’s ability to deal with more acute stressors and we often regularly respond in ‘emergency’ fashion to stressors that do not require this response.

Nevertheless, the process of evolution has led to us responding to any stress in a way that has long been our mode of functioning, because that its what we evolved to do. That the severity and types of stress we now deal with are vastly different to those we evolved dealing with is not of consequence to the body. Our safety is far more assured than in previous times, yet our body still responds with this ‘fight or flight’ mechanism.

Our body’s innate stress response is driven by the ‘autonomic nervous system’ (ANS) – a part of our nervous system that controls the functions of our organs and many of our body’s functions (including respiration!!) which functions regardless of whether we are conscious of it or not; i.e. the functions it controls still operate whether we are awake or asleep. It comprises the sympathetic nervous system (SNS), which excites or arouses the body to prepare for the ‘fight or flight’ stress response, and the parasympathetic nervous system (PSNS), which calms the mind and rejuvenates the body. The sympathetic and parasympathetic divisions typically function in complementary opposition to each other.

A common analogy used to compare these two facets of the autonomic nervous system describes the SNS as the ‘accelerator’ and the PSNS as the ‘brake’. The sympathetic division typically functions in actions requiring quick responses. The parasympathetic division functions with actions that do not require immediate reaction.

The ‘fight or flight’ response to stress causes the sympathetic nervous system to dominate. Sympathetic nervous system dominance leads to the following changes characteristic of the ‘fight or flight’ response:

  • Adrenaline levels in the blood rise.
  • Over time, blood levels of cortisol increase.
  • Heart rate increases
  • Blood pressure increases
  • Blood is redirected from the digestive system to skeletal muscles
  • Breathing rate and volume increases
  • Triggers the burning of sugar and storage of fat.
  • Elevation of plasma levels of clotting factors and histamine.

When breathing rate and volume rise we over breathe. When we over breathe we lose too much CO2 and the blood becomes too alkaline. As a result, haemoglobin holds on to inhaled oxygen in the blood stream, cells become deprived of oxygen and we experience different symptoms.

Once this response occurs regularly enough it becomes a conditioned response or a habit. Over time, this adaptive response, originally designed as an emergency response to an acute stress, becomes our normal mode of functioning.

But, as humans we are born ‘obligate nose breathers’ meaning that we do not possess the voluntary ability to breathe through our mouths. Mouth-breathing, the most common example of over-breathing is a learned response triggered by our emergency response to stress.

For example, you will notice that newborn infants breathe quietly through their nose all of the time. However, if their nose becomes blocked they will struggle to get air into their lungs. As they have not learned the response to mouth breathe, they will begin to suffocate. As a response, they begin to cry which allows large volumes of air to enter the lungs rectifying the emergency. The infant then returns to its normal nose breathing.

When subsequent stressors arise they repeat this emergency response, until they become conditioned from a very early age to respond to any sign of stress with this emergency mouth breathing response.

In our modern world of chronic low level stress, mouth-breathing, originally an emergency response, becomes a conditioned response and a habit. And, eventually our normal way of functioning.

The parasympathetic nervous system, on the other hand, promotes a “rest and digest” response, thus a calming of the nerves return to regular function, and enhance digestion. Some of the functions of the PSNS are:

  • Increase in digestive system function.
  • Breathing rate and volume decrease
  • Lowering of the heart rate (or returning it back to normal or resting rates)
  • Lowered blood pressure
  • Reduced blood cortisol
  • Constriction of the pupil and contraction of the ciliary muscle to the lens, allowing for closer vision.
  • Stimulation salivary gland of secretion, and accelerates peristalsis, so, in keeping with the rest and digest functions, appropriate PNS activity mediates digestion of food and indirectly, the absorption of nutrients
  • Increase in blood flow to the brain
  • Increase in ‘happy’ neurotransmitters, serotonin and dopamine – low levels of these are seen in depression
  • Is also involved in erection of genitals
  • Stimulates sexual arousal
  • Increase in night time melatonin – promoting a more restful sleep.

If you observe the cascade of changes that are evident when we over breathe and are in ‘fight or flight’ responsiveness, you will see that this cascade of changes accounts for many of the pathologies that occur in a great number of the chronic ailments we suffer from in the modern world.  Which, in turn, points out that over breathing is not something that we should ignore or take for granted.

The Breathing Dynamics training program will teach you to beak the cycle of over breathing, and help to get out of habitual ‘fight or flight’ responsiveness.

 

Breathing is a function that is vital for life - yet most of us completely take i8t for granted, and don't even though that we breathe way below optimal levels...

BREATHING FOR LIFE – OR DEATH!!

Introduction to Breathing Dynamics – Why is Proper Breathing So Important

Breathing is the most central process of our functioning that we have direct conscious control over and the area where we can have the most influence regarding whole health.

Breathing is central to all life – we cannot live without it for more than a few minutes.

It is the one thing we do more than anything else – the average person breathes up to 30,000 times per day on average.

BUT did you know that:

  • The quality of your breathing affects the quality of your life?
  • And that most of us OVER-BREATHE – both in rate and depth? For example, diagnostic norms suggest that we should breathe 12-14,000 times per day rather than 30,000 times.
  • Do you know what it means to breathe OPTIMALLY?
  • The limiting factor in OPTIMAL RESPIRATION, and therefore OPTIMAL ENERGY FOR OUR CELLS, is not a lack of oxygen that we inhale? It is a lack of oxygen released into cells (due to low levels of carbon dioxide) caused by OVER-BREATHING OR DYSFUNCTIONAL BREATHING!!!!

So why do most of us take our breathing for granted?

Why do we accept less than optimal breathing function?

Perhaps, until now, we have not been aware of the link between dysfunctional breathing and symptoms of ill-health or disease. Some of these symptoms include:

 

Fatigue & Lethargy Digestive upsets – IBS, constipation, diarrhoea. Irritability Waking un-refreshed
Anxiety Allergies Shortness of breath Headaches/migraines
Depression & emotional disturbances Skin irritations – eczema etc. Breathing difficulties – asthma, wheezing. Sinusitis & excessive mucus production
High blood pressure Poor  concentration Night-time toilet trips Frequent colds & flus
Dental problems &/or deformities Memory loss Poor sleep or leep disturbances Muscular or nerve chest & pains

Also, very few of us are aware that we could make significant changes to our health, stability, posture, attention, composure and sleep quality by learning how to breathe functionally. In addition to reversing the symptoms of ill-health or disease mentioned above, some more of these changes include:

 

Enhanced energy levels Greater endurance & stamina Improved focus & concentration
Improved immune system function Improved blood flow to extremities Improved responsiveness to stressors
Better posture & stability Delayed lactic acid onset during exercise Greater access to “Zone” states during exercise/performance
More relaxed muscles/joints Better focus & concentration Enhanced happiness/self image
Improved flexibility Improved mood stability Lower heart rates

 

Breathing Dynamics aims to restore optimal or functional breathing and therefore maximise delivery of oxygen to cells (for energy) by offering a variety of understandings and techniques that encourage:

 

  1. Breathing through the nose at all times.
  2. Using the diaphragm as the principal or primary muscle for breathing.
  3. Regulating breathing rate and volume.

 

We offer breathing retraining courses for individuals and groups, which usually run for 8-10 hours (broken up into a few sessions) plus ongoing evaluation. These courses have a strong practical focus. To facilitate learning, we use CapnoTrainer® biofeedback technology, which gives an individual information on their own functioning from their own body’s perspective rather than just relying on coaching or feedback from a another person. By the end of the course we give clients the knowledge and understanding, both theoretically and practically, for them to be able to breathe functionally or optimally in many of life’s varying circumstances.

We also offer online modules (purchased via the online shop) on breathing retraining to optimize function and facilitate healing for a number of ailments and purposes. These include:

  1. Asthma
  2. High blood pressure/hypertension
  3. Fatigue
  4. Anxiety/depression
  5. Snoring/sleep apnoea
  6. Eczema/skin conditions
  7. Stress management
  8. Allergies
  9. To facilitate dental corrections
  10. Enhanced sporting performance
  11. Enhanced work performance – artistic and business.
  12. Ability to hold the breath underwater (specific to surfers etc)
  13. Breathing for yogis.
Keys to maintaining constant energy levels throughout the day, and preventing illness.

Optimal Performance Nutrition for Feeling Awesome

Blood Sugar Regulation for Optimal Performance

Blood Sugar Regulation is aimed at regulating blood sugar levels to optimise energy production (and remove slumps in energy levels – such as mid afternoon).

Most of us over-consume or eat mostly carbohydrate rich foods, which the body converts into high levels of glucose for energy production in the cells. It is estimated that the average Westerner consumes at least 50% more carbohydrates daily than our hunter gatherer ancestors. In response to a higher carbohydrate intake, the pancreas produces high levels of insulin, which is used to transport this glucose to the cells for energy production.

Excessive production of insulin is termed hyperinsulinaemia, and prolonged hyperinsulinaemia can result in the cells becoming insulin resistant. The cells do this to prevent more energy being produced than our body demands at the time. What this means over time however, is that the cells, having become conditioned to being resistant to insulin, can no longer get the glucose they need for energy.
The cells of the body make up all of the systems within the body. If these cells cannot produce enough energy to function properly, then the systems begin to break down leading to the indicators of lack of health mentioned earlier. And, ultimately to more the deep seated, chronic pathological conditions.

In addition, insulin resistance is a process that is inflammatory in nature. It is no surprise also, the the chronic illnesses that we most commonly suffer from, and that account for 90% of deaths in the Western World, are inflammatory conditions.
Unfortunately, as is very often the case, if the input of fuel for energy outweighs the demand for energy, then this glucose floating around in the blood stream must be stored. Apart from the small amounts of glucose that can be stored in the liver and skeletal muscles as glycogen, the main storage mechanism of this fuel involves converting the glucose to fat and storing it wherever this fat may be deposited (and most of us are aware of these areas in our own bodies).

What compounds this even further, is that insulin is a storage hormone, and elevated levels of insulin, or hyperinsulinaemia, prevents the release of this converted glucose from the fat stores when it is required. Fat is the most efficient source of fuel for energy in our bodies (in terms of amount of energy produced per gram), and when the cells can no longer gain access to this extremely efficient fuel source, apart from the circulating glucose in our blood or glycogen stores in the liver and muscles which are very limited, the body must access our protein stores for energy. Our protein stores include our muscles and vital organs. Not ideal.

Extensive scientific research has shown that the number one biological marker in the body of ageing is a reduction in our muscle mass to fat ratio. And this marker adversely affects all other biological markers of ageing; such as basal metabolic rate, heart rate, blood pressure, cholesterol levels, HDL (good fat) to VLDL (bad fat) ratio, bone density, blood sugar tolerance, aerobic capacity etc.
So, in addition to our systems not producing energy efficiently and adequately, and potentially leading us down the path to obesity, we are also accelerating our own ageing process. This all leads to a poor quality of life in comparison to what is available to us all if we are prepared to open up to our genetic potential.

If you are lean it does not mean however, that your cells are not insulin resistant. It just means that you are burning all of your circulating glucose for fuel before it gets deposited in the fat cells. The excessive levels of carbohydrates and resultant insulin resistance will still cause the body to function less efficiently as it will not produce the energy required at the rate that it is demanded, as it can’t get access to the fuel quickly enough. And body will also be inflammatory.

The “Optimal Performance Nutrition” program is based on predominantly eating foods that our hunter gatherer ancestors ate, as, from a genetic perspective, our body still functions as if we were still wandering the bush. These foods are generally low glycaemic load (GL) foods. The GL is the ranking of foods based on their immediate effect on blood glucose (blood sugar) levels and the amount of sugar they contain. The lower the GL, the lower the sugar content, and the better the food is for you.

Some of the benefits of a low GL diet:
• Improved energy levels.
• Maintenance of healthy cardiovascular function.
• Weight/fat loss.
• Low GL foods keep you feeling fuller for longer.

It was once thought that table sugar and particularly sugary foods such as sweets were the only foods that had to be avoided by people trying to control their blood sugar. However, the GL has shown us that complex carbohydrates such as potatoes, and particularly refined grains such as white flour (bread, pasta, cakes, biscuits, many cereals etc. etc.) and white rice can have an effect that is comparable to eating table sugar. And our hunter gatherer ancestors did not have access to these foods either.

One of the reasons for this is that refined grains have the fibrous, outer (often brown) shell removed. This outer shell, or husk, contains a lot of fibre which slows down the entry of the sugar into the blood stream. Fibre is also very important in maintaining the motility of our digestive system, and keeping our bowel movements regular. Given that up to 70% of our immune cells line our digestive tract, it is far more healthy to have an efficient, regularly moving digestive system than one that is blocked, irritated and festering!!!!

In addition, the husk also contains most of the micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) in the grain. These micronutrients are essential in so many of the chemical reactions and processes that occur in the body. If these vitamins and minerals are absent in the food we consume, then the body will take them from its own stores.

An example of this is Calcium. The main stores of calcium in the body are in the bones and muscles. Calcium is essential in firing many of the chemical reactions in the body, including the production of energy in the cells. If Calcium is deficient in the food we eat, then the body will remove it from the bone and muscle stores. Maybe this may go a long way towards explaining why in the Western World, whilst we are the largest consumers of dairy (which are high in Calcium), we also experience the far higher rates of osteoporosis in comparison to countries where the population eat predominantly whole foods, and are far more active. Is it possible that because we eat such extraordinary amounts of refined carbohydrates, that our bodies end up leeching our bones of major minerals such as Calcium or Magnesium to perform their functions?
So, essentially, when consuming refined grains, you are eating nothing more than empty, sugary calories (see Table 2 – Pasta & Sugar Equivalents).

In addition to low GL foods, the Optimal Performance Nutrition program may require you to modify your protein intake. More specifically, to have small amounts of protein regularly. This is because you may not have been eating enough protein at certain times of the day, and too much at other times. A healthy protein intake improves appetite control, increases metabolism and helps maintain lean muscle mass. It is important to note that this does not imply or suggest a high protein diet – just a small to moderate amount regularly.

On the Optimal Performance Nutrition program you will also need to ensure you consume adequate amounts of “good” fats, known as ‘essential fatty acids’. Whilst saturated fats and trans fats (a thickener found in margarine, spreads, biscuits etc.) are very bad for you, certain fats and polyunsaturated fatty acids are very good for us and have important health benefits. Fats from oily fish, nuts, seeds, and healthy oils such as extra virgin olive oil anti-inflammatory and immune stimulating. They improve a wide range of conditions and may even help improve your mood and skin.

To gain optimal performance from your nutritional program, certain basic guidelines need to be observed.

In this program Tim will assess your current daily food intake and offer solutions to optimise your health and energy production by providing a plan which focuses on your body’s needs.

Follow up consultations will continue to assess your performance and energy levels while building a solid foundation for a healthier, happier you.