QUESTION: Anders, what is your opinion on EWOT (Exercise with Oxygen Therapy)? After all, I use the Relaxator, which slows down my breathing when I drive a car etc., and nose breathing when I exercise. If I understand it correctly, the amount of oxygen I get when using Relaxator and nose breathing decreases. Is that true? And if it is, does your advice not directly contradict the information in this article “Why Your Body Begins to Slow Down With Age – And How to Put It Off as Long as Possible?“.
ANSWER: There is no doubt that oxygen is important. The reason why we die after only a few minutes if we stop breathing is because of lack of oxygen. The oxygen is crucial if our cells, muscles and organs are to be able to produce energy efficiently.
But even though it is oxygen our body is constantly craving, my view is that carbon dioxide paves the way for oxygen, all the way from the stimulation of the phrenic nerve — which signals the diaphragm to move downward so that an inhalation can begin — to forcing the oxygen out of the blood at a cellular level.
- Inhalation: Carbon dioxide signals the brain stem that the body should start a breath by lowering the body’s pH value to a level where the brain’s respiratory center is activated.
- The respiratory tracts: Carbon dioxide causes the smooth muscles of the respiratory tract to relax so that they dilate and let air into the lungs.
- The blood: Carbon dioxide causes the smooth muscles in the blood vessels to relax so that they dilate and blood circulation is facilitated.
- The cells: According to the Bohr effect, carbon dioxide lowers the pH level, which reduces the hemoglobin’s affinity for (or “attraction” to) oxygen, and oxygen is released from the blood to the cells.
An optimal carbon dioxide pressure is the foundation for optimal oxygenation. More information can be found in the article, “Carbon dioxide pressure more important than blood pressure“.