We all know that diet and exercise play a big part in bolstering our immune system, but did you know that breathing through your nose is also an important factor?
According to human performance specialist and breathing expert, Brian Mackenzie, how we breathe is an integral part of strengthening our immunity. “The nose is the first line of defense for the immune system,” he says.
That’s because noses have their own way of keeping us healthy. So, consider nasal breathing an extra layer of immune support. Here's why:
Our nasal passages can filter bacteria and viruses in the air. We have little hair follicles in our nose (in fact, we have as many hair follicles inside our nose as we do on our head, according to Mackenzie) that can filter the air as you inhale, which can block dust and bacteria from reaching your lungs. Our mouths, on the other hand, don’t have the same knack for filtering out particles.
Another reason our noses are linked to immunity? The mucus itself: On every single hair in our noses, there’s a mucus coating. And according to Mackenzie, “mucus is the honey badger of our immune system.” That’s because it instantaneously launches defense immune cells (TH1 and TH2, to be more specific) whenever it detects bacteria or viruses.
Our snot has some pretty protective effects; that’s why “a lot of people who are mouth breathers can get colds quite frequently,” Mackenzie says. “With nasal breathing, the immune system completely changes.”