Sep 19 • 1HR 0M

Breathing for better health with James Nestor

The science and practice of breathing for better health

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Ancestral Health Today
James Nestor
Evolutionary insights into modern human health
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In this episode of Ancestral Health Today, we bring you a conversation with James Nestor. 

James Nestor is a science journalist and author of the bestselling book Breath, which was on the New York Times bestseller list for 18 weeks, and won the a 2020 prize for Best General Nonfiction.  James also wrote a book on free divers who test their limits by diving to the ocean floor without oxygen tanks, and he's published articles in Scientific American, The New York Times, The Atlantic, and Surfer's Journal.  He suffered from some respiratory conditions and spoke to medical researchers, athletic trainers, and practitioners of different religious and meditative traditions, trying to understand the connection between breathing and health. 

James spoke at the Ancestral Health Symposium conferences in 2021 and 2022.

In today's episode, we start by covering the physiology of breathing and how it influences oxygen, carbon dioxide and the autonomic nervous system.  We'll get into some physiological experiments that James and a colleague took part in with leading doctors at Stanford, and how changing breathing lowered blood pressure, reversed apnea and other health issues.  We'll then look the how the changes in diet and lifestyle in modern society has actually changed the shape of the human skull and our airways, impairing our ability to breath correctly.  Finally, we'll look at some advanced breathing practices that can improve health and combat anxiety.

For more information on the science and practice of breathing for better health, please visit his website, 

00:00 Introduction

02:00 Slow breathing is healthy, increases carbon dioxide

07:14 What is a good rate of breathing?

10:14 Nose breathing

12:19 Nitric oxide, cardiovascular health

14:41 Self-experiments with mouth breathing vs nose-breathing, sleep apnea, mouth tape

23:34 Steps on exhale as measuring lung capacity

30:07 Did we evolve to breathe optimally?

32:41 Modern industrial lifestyle alters skull shape

39:44 Chewing stress affects skull shape

43:28 Can we fix airways later in life?

46:18 Innovative pediatric dentists

48:39 Tumo/Wim Hof method

53:19 Justin Feinstein, deliberate boosting CO2 for health

56:15 Carbon dioxide in environments, indoors

58:12 Conclusion