Too much oxygen as a result of over-breathing leads to oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is like a rusting of your arteries and veins. It happens because the oxygen is unable to release itself from your red blood cells. It leads to inflammation, plaque, and corroding. If you exercise too much or do too much physically strenuous work, that can also cause oxidative stress. In fact, just being generally stressed out can cause oxidative stress because our breathing is erratic and inefficient.
We’re not trained or taught how to breathe when we’re young. Over the years we experience stress, challenges, chronic activation of the sympathetic nervous system, and so on, so we don’t breathe consciously. Instead, we tend to breathe under the control of the reptilian brain. That means our breathing can become erratic, fast, slow, or it can just pause without conscious control. That leads to incoherent heart rhythms, which leads to incoherent functions in the body.
When you expose metal to air for long periods of time, the oxygen in the atmosphere reacts with the metal through a process called oxidation that causes it to rust. The same rusting occurs in the body that can lead to inflammation and cell damage. This is why it is beneficial to consciously control the amount of oxygen that goes into the body.
How Does It Work?
Too much oxygen and inefficient oxygen use leads to oxidative stress, which leads to free radicals attacking your system. This leads to protein and DNA injury, tissue damage, inflammation, and cell death. Autoimmune conditions, neurodegenerative diseases, and cancer can occur as a result of oxidative stress (Bashir et al., 1993; Uttara et al., 2009; Reuter et al., 2010; Asmat et al., 2016).
Similarly, if you do not use oxygen efficiently, you can experience low moods, depression, low energy, and no motivation (Black et al., 2015).
By a process known as the Bohr effect, an increase in carbon dioxide results in a decrease of blood pH (more acidic), which makes the haemoglobin proteins release their oxygen. When the haemoglobin releases oxygen, it goes to the tissue cells of your body, to the mitochondria, to create ATP energy. You need a certain concentration of carbon dioxide in your body for this to happen.
When you are stressed or anxious, you over-breathe (hyperventilate). This causes you to have too little carbon dioxide in your body, so the haemoglobin is not prompted to release oxygen sufficiently. That means there is not enough oxygen going to our cells where it is needed to create ATP energy – which keeps us alive and functioning!
So disease can also be the result of over breathing or hyperventilation that happens when you are stressed or anxious which causes you to have too little carbon dioxide and too much oxygen bound to haemoglobin and not enough going into the cells where it is needed to create energy.
How Can You Combat Oxidative Stress?
One of the aims of SOMA Breath is to help you create the optimum balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide for your body. We want you to experience a consistent flow of energy, increased productivity, better and more regulated moods, and be more resistant to stress. It can also help you stay physically healthy, and reduce your chances of getting diseases associated with either an excess or a lack of oxygen.