Bring Back Brown Bag Breathing
Even though in recent times it has been given a bad name, carbon dioxide production and retention in the body is part of a process which directly protects against stress and disease.
Put another way, stress – or anything that interferes with thyroid function – hinders the ability of the body to produce carbon dioxide (CO2), lowering overall metabolic performance.
“Compared with otherwise similar patients residing at or near sea level, patients living at ≥ 6000 ft had 31%…lower rates of myocardial infarction, 27%…lower rates of stroke and 19%…lower rates of cardiovascular death.”
A well functioning metabolism uses sugar in the presence of oxygen to efficiently produce energy and carbon dioxide. In fact, the presence of carbon dioxide alone is an indicator of effective mitochondrial energy production.
Whenever the by-products of stress interfere with this process, cells begin to produce energy far less effectively, shifting towards a less efficient state converting glucose to lactic acid – rather than carbon dioxide – and an increase in the oxidation of fat (often polyunsaturated).
Thyroid hormone is necessary for the production of carbon dioxide, and the polyunsaturated fats have been shown to interfere with thyroid function on many physiological levels.
The hypothyroid state promotes the release of the stress hormones adrenalin and cortisol, which further interfere with mitochondrial respiration, once again shifting towards the oxidation of fat, decreasing CO2 and increasing lactic acid. Lactic acid itself interferes with metabolism and causes stress.
In this sense, although the production of lactate – one of the drivers of cancer growth and spread – can be chronically increased due to continuous metabolic interference, it is also something which can end up making a return to more optimal function (with effective glucose oxidation and carbon dioxide production) more difficult.
On top of this, stress – and inefficient metabolism – promote the absorption of bacterial endotoxin, damaging respiration as well as increasing the release of many stress related substances (such as serotonin and estrogen) which also directly interfere with the oxidation of glucose and help to feed what can become a vicious cycle of degeneration and disease.
“…LPS [endotoxin] does enter the circulation after ultra-endurance exercise and may, together with muscle damage, be responsible for the increased cytokine response and hence GI complaints in these athletes.”
So from a slightly different view it can be understood that increasing carbon dioxide levels correspond with a reduction in stress hormone release, lower levels of polyunsaturated free fatty acids – as well as less endotoxin from bacteria – and the promotion of more efficient overall energy production.
Some of the dietary measures which can be explored in an attempt to achieve such a pro-metabolic state include the provision of sufficient protein and other nutrients (from milk and cheese and gelatinous meats) the limiting of difficult to digest starches and fibers (from grains, beans, nuts and under cooked vegetables) and plenty of carbohydrate from sources such as sweet ripe fruits and juices, honey and white sugar.
Chronic endurance exercise has been shown to reduce levels of active thyroid hormone, as well as reducing Co2 levels with excessive intake of oxygen or hyperventilation.
Although it’s true that salt and sugar help suppress the stress hormones, promote the production of carbon dioxide and increase thyroid function in general, they can be used as part of an approach protecting against some of the damaging effects of excessive training or exercise of a variety of types.
A couple of teaspoons of sodium bicarb spread over a day has been shown to have beneficial effects.
“…these data demonstrate that the ingestion of sodium bicarbonate in youth athletes is an effective buffer during high intensity interval swimming and suggest that such a procedure can be used in youth athletes to increase training intensity as well as swimming performance in competition…“
Regular daily bag breathing is a cheap and easy method which can also help increase carbon dioxide levels in the body and protect against stress and disease and over training.
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