Improve your oxygen levels naturally
Most healthy adults take between 12 and 20 breaths per minute. But we should actually all take a much lower number of breaths - around 6-8 breaths per minute.
Despite the large numbers of breaths we take, most of us are still not aware that we do not breathe optimally. Optimal breathing has a great influence on our health and well-being since it is directly linked to the oxygen level in our body.
Breathing uses chemical and mechanical processes to bring oxygen to every cell of the body and to get rid of carbon dioxide. Our body needs oxygen to obtain energy to fuel all our living processes.
Carbon dioxide is a waste product of that process. The respiratory system, with its conduction and respiratory zones, brings air from the environment to the lungs and facilitates gas exchange both in the lungs and within the cells.
Actually, 90% of all our energy comes from breath.
Cells then need oxygen to be able to break up the chemical bonds of food molecules such as sugars, carbohydrates, and proteins to release the energy they contain.
Just as every cell in our body needs energy, every one of them needs oxygen. Bringing oxygen to our cells and muscles is what makes us capable of performing physical activity.
Why is oxygen important?
Oxygen is the most important nutrition of our cells, every function in our body is dependent on oxygen, and it is the power for our body and muscles.
Breathing through our lungs provide our cells with oxygen, makes our brain work and heart beat, and is therefore altogether without comparison the most important priority and muscle of our body.
Breathing and Oxygen levels
We breathe because we are alive, so is that not a good enough reason to get more oxygen?
The answer to the question is that no matter how well we live and how well we provide our body with the best conditions, by focusing more on our breath, we will be able to stimulate our body to become healthier and happier. Focused breath increases our concentration and gives us more energy.
Oxygen is the element that our cells need to create energy, to keep us going and to make us perform at higher levels.
Therefore, increased levels of oxygen help us perform better, giving energy to both our mind and body. If we lack oxygen we are not able to perform physically, and we will feel tired and experience fatigue. We breathe in oxygen through our respiratory system, the oxygen hereafter goes directly into our blood and further pumps into our body through our blood vessels. This happens in our red blood cells which are responsible for carrying oxygen.
The health of our red blood cells is, therefore, an important factor in the oxygen level. However, the level of oxygen can differ a lot from person to person and environmental factors. When we breathe, we take in oxygen and expel carbon dioxide. This gaseous exchange happens most effectively in the bottom part of our lungs i.e. the alveoli.
Therefore, deep breaths are important, they make sure that the air reaches the alveoli where the gaseous exchange takes place and makes the blood more oxygenated, which increases the oxygen level in your blood.
How to measure the oxygen level in your blood - SPO2
Medically, SPO2 is the term used when estimating a person's oxygen level in the bloodstream and is a standard part of patient care around the world.
SPO2 stands for peripheral capillary oxygen saturation, which means that it is the saturation of oxygen in the blood that is being measured. The SPO2 number is measured with a pulse oximeter.
It provides an estimate of how much oxygen your blood carries compared to its maximum capacity. The normal SPO2 level is between 94% and 99%.
Persons with lung diseases usually have lower SPO2 level. SPO2 below 90% is critical and can cause a strain on the heart, lung, and liver.
How to get more oxygen?
Oxygen is vital for our cells, body function and strength. And the greater amount of oxygen, the better we will function.
There are a number of ways you can train your body to obtain greater amounts of oxygen. Cardio exercise is one of these, however, it is not enough to solely focus on exercise when seeking to increase the oxygen level.
Through cardio exercise, you train your cardiovascular and respiratory system, but that does not mean that your breathing is optimal.
We have here listed 5 important ways for more oxygen:
1. Get fresh air
Open your windows and go outside. Fresh air will provide you with energy and bring you additional amounts of oxygen to the lungs.
2. Drink water
In order to oxygenate and expel carbon dioxide, our lungs need to be hydrated and drinking enough water, therefore, influences oxygen levels. We lose on average about 400 milliliters of water per day.
3. Eat iron-rich foods
Certain foods can help improve the oxygen levels in your blood. Iron is a mineral needed for our red blood cells, the cells that transport blood around the body. That is why we can be tired and exhausted if we lack iron.
Great sources of iron-rich foods are green leafy vegetables like kale and broccoli, fruits such as apples, legumes, and lean proteins such as eggs, poultry, and fish.
The better we are at obtaining and utilising oxygen, the more energy our cells are able to produce. Increased oxygen utilisation will, therefore, strengthen our endurance.
There is a clear correlation between performance and the amount of oxygen we breathe in. This is measured in VO2 max, maximal oxygen uptake. The higher the VO2, the greater endurance. Interval and sprint training are the best training methods to increase the oxygen levels.
Exercise alone is not enough if you want to improve the quality of your breathing since training provides no guarantee that you are actually utilising the capacity of your lungs and oxygen uptake. Breathing is, however, vital in order to increase our oxygen level. Slow and deep breathing increases the level of oxygen in our blood. Oxygen is transported to the blood within the body through the respiratory system and that is why it influences your oxygen level if your breathing is not optimal.
For the same reason, many people and athletes experience a great difference, when they start to work on their breath through respiratory training. Breathing exercises not only strengthen our endurance it also helps to reduce our stress levels through focus and calmer breaths.
In a nut shell better breathing equates to better health which equates to a healthier life.