Increasing blood oxygen boosts your energy; because cells need oxygen to produce energy. It also enhances the immune system, and cognitive function, by improving concentration and memory. In today’s video, we explore 9 ways you can increase blood oxygen levels naturally.
Make sure you watch till the end, because one of them is an important nutrient most people don’t get enough. As always, this video is educational, and does not constitute medical advice; we are not doctors.
First, how do you measure your blood oxygen level?
Your blood oxygen level, or oxygen saturation, indicates how much oxygen your red blood cells are carrying. Anyone can measure this with a pulse oximeter (pulse ox); this is a non-invasive device with a sensor placed on your fingertip. Or your doctor can measure this accurately, with an arterial blood gas test, in which blood is drawn from the artery in your wrist.
Next, what happens to your body when blood oxygen levels are too low?
Normal blood oxygen levels range between 75 to 100 millimeters of mercury. (mm Hg); pulse ox reading is 95 to 100%. Oxygen deficiency can occur if it is below 60 mm Hg; or pulse ox reading falls below 95%. When the blood oxygen level is insufficient, hypoxemia is diagnosed, which further causes hypoxia, in which low oxygen levels adversely affect organ health. Lung diseases such as asthma, pneumonia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), heart disease, and sleep apnea, can be the reason for hypoxemia. The symptoms of hypoxemia are headaches, shortness of breath, coughing, rapid heartbeat, changes in skin color and lips.
Number 9. “Eating Iron-Rich Foods”.
People who live in a hypoxic environment, such as in high altitude places, or who have hypoxemia, need more iron to produce hemoglobin. Oxygen diffuses through tiny, balloon-shaped air sacs in the lungs called alveoli, and enters the blood stream. It binds to hemoglobin in red blood cells, and travels to every body part. Because iron deficiency is common in children, pregnant women, women of reproductive age, athletes, and seniors, monitoring dietary iron intake is critical. Great sources of iron are meats, eggs, milk, beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, and iron-fortified cereals.
Number 8. “Drink Beetroot Juice”.
Beetroot is rich in nitrates, which is used for nitric oxide synthesis. Nitric oxide is a compound that has beneficial effects for repairing blood vessels, and lowering blood pressure, resulting in increased oxygen delivery to organs. A study on active individuals, showed that 3-day beetroot juice supplementation significantly increased oxygen uptake. Besides beetroot juice, you can get nitrates naturally from spinach, lettuce, carrot, and potatoes.
Number 7. “Eat Foods With Creatine”.
Creatine is an amino acid found in all cells in the body. It plays an important role in tissues where the body needs instant power, such as muscles; that’s why athletes supplement with it, to help them train, and improve muscle performance. A study showed that 2-week creatine supplementation, helped improve muscle strength and lung function, during rehabilitation for patients who had pulmonary disease, such as COPD or Asthma. Creatine can increase blood oxygen levels by making oxygen-carbon dioxide exchange easier. You can get creatine naturally from lean meats, fish and dairy.
Number 6. “Get Your Antioxidants: Vitamin C and E”.
Oxidative stress occurs when your body’s antioxidant status decreases, or reactive oxygen species (ROS) increase, due to increased metabolic needs, high oxygen levels, or environmental pollutants. ROS are free radicals that contain oxygen, and easily react with other molecules in a cell, causing damage to DNA, RNA, and proteins, and even “cell death”.
Oxidative stress can result in lung disease with breathing problems. Lung cells are exposed to high amounts of oxygen, so they are highly susceptible to oxidative stress. In a 2018 clinical trial, vitamins C and E given together to patients with lung injury, was shown to increase oxygen levels significantly. These two vitamins act as antioxidants to capture ROS, and make them harmless. You can get dietary vitamin C from orange, tangerine, kiwi, strawberry, broccoli, and vitamin E from vegetable oils like olive and sunflower oil, and nuts and seeds.
Number 5. “Consume Less Salt”.
Continued high intake of salt can cause high blood pressure, that narrows blood vessels resulting in decreased oxygen to organs. Foods that contain high amounts of salt include bacon, cheese, pickles, salami, salted and dry-roasted nuts, soy sauce, and most importantly, packaged foods. When you eat these foods, make sure to control your portion size.
Number 4. “Breathing Techniques and Exercise”.
As the American Lung Association suggests, breathing with the right techniques, and doing aerobic exercises, can improve lung efficiency for breathing. Normally, your lungs are elastic, but with lung diseases and hypoxemia, they lose their elasticity, making less room for the diaphragm to work fully. So the neck, chest, and back muscles are used for breathing instead. This change results in lower blood oxygen levels, and decreased exercise capacity.
Diaphragm breathing, commonly known as belly breathing, is taught by rehabilitation specialists to make breathing easier for lung disease patients. With these exercises, you can strengthen your muscles, making it possible to breathe normally. The diaphragm can take control back with breathing exercises, and blood oxygen levels can increase. So how can you do this? Make sure your neck and shoulders are relaxed. Breathe through your nose, till the air fills up in your belly, and you can see your belly moving. Then breathe out through your mouth 2 or 3 times longer than you breathe in, and practice this, 5 to 10 minutes every day.
Number 3. “Change Sleeping Position”.
In lung diseases and hypoxemia, airflow is disturbed because the lungs are less elastic, and airways become narrower. During sleep, hypoxemia increases cardiac arrhythmia, which can affect life expectancy. While sleeping, some positions help you breathe easily, and allow more oxygen into your lungs, as suggested by the British Lung Foundation. First position. Using a pillow to support your head, lie on your side on the floor, and slightly bend the knee of the leg you are lying on, with the top leg straight. This position should help when you’re feeling breathless. Second position. Sit in front of the table, then lean, and rest your arms and head, on the pillow on the table. This should help when you feel short of breath.
Number 2. “Quit Smoking”.
Worldwide statistics show that smoking is the number one cause of preventable diseases and death. Cigarettes contain thousands of harmful chemicals which cause hypoxemia, lung diseases such as COPD, chronic bronchitis, and lung cancer. A study showed that smoking one pack a day causes tissue hypoxia, resulting in cell dysfunction or death.
Smoking also narrows blood vessels, and causes a loss of elasticity, so oxygen delivery to the tissues is decreased. If you’re a smoker, you should consider quitting to prevent breathing problems and lung diseases.
Number 1. “Eat Magnesium-Rich Foods”.
Oxygen diffuses from alveoli in the lungs, to blood vessels. When blood vessels widen, oxygen diffusion increases. Magnesium helps to relax the lung muscles, and increase airflow, resulting in increased oxygen delivery to the blood. Therefore, magnesium can improve shortness of breath, and asthma symptoms, in which airways become tightened, making it difficult to breathe. Magnesium deficiency may increase blood pressure, resulting in lower blood oxygen levels. In a clinical trial done in 2012, magnesium was administered to patients with lung disease. This resulted in lower blood pressure and, importantly, improved blood oxygen saturation. Magnesium-rich foods you can add to your diet, include bananas, yoghurt, avocado, dark chocolate, almonds, whole grains, lima beans, pumpkin seeds, and spinach.
If you enjoyed this video, Like, Share, and Subscribe, and Click on the bell icon, so you never miss a video!
And now, over to you: Do you have symptoms of poor blood oxygen? What are you doing about this? Leave your comments below. We’d love to hear from you.
To get daily health tips for optimizing your nutrition and lifestyle, so you can feel amazing naturally, join our FREE email newsletter by clicking the link below.
And be sure to check out our other videos!