Today, we look at what happens when there is not enough oxygen in your body. We’ll also discuss what causes this problem, and how you can improve it by eating certain foods and making lifestyle changes.
Oxygen is needed to create energy, so every cell in your body can function. Without oxygen, life is short. You get oxygen from breathing in air, but there is more to it than just breathing.
First, you need to be able to get the air from your lungs into the blood. You might take this for granted, but many people have had difficulty with this in the past three years.
Then, once the oxygen is in the blood, you need to have a protein called hemoglobin in your red blood cells to carry the oxygen around the body.
Now, if a person has anemia, it becomes hard for oxygen to reach all the organs and tissues.
And one of the organs most affected is your brain. That’s because your brain cells use at least 20% of the body’s oxygen supply.
Now, unlike your muscles, your brain cannot store energy; it needs a steady flow of nutrients and oxygen to work well. So, if your brain is deficient in oxygen, it can cause problems like sleep apnea, poor judgment, lack of focus, poor memory, mood swings, restlessness, depression, and low energy.
Now, to increase oxygen in your body, it’s important to understand how the oxygen you breathe turns into energy for your cells.
So, the mitochondria in your cells take oxygen from the air and glucose and fat from the food you eat to make energy in the form of adenosine triphosphate, or ATP.
The mitochondria are the “power plants” in your cells that produce ATP. And ATP is the energy source that fuels cell function in every tissue–your muscles, skin, brain, you name it–so they can be healthy and strong.
So, what happens when your cells cannot get enough oxygen to make ATP?
When tissues of your body do not get enough oxygen, this condition is called hypoxia.
A hypoxic state is a sure indicator of disease. People with respiratory problems and poor blood circulation tend to have hypoxia. They may feel weak, tired, and sleepy because of this.
A hypoxic state can cause abnormal cell growth, and cell death, and increases free radicals and inflammation. If hypoxia is untreated, it can lead to migraines, heart disease, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, metabolic syndrome, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, autoimmune disorders, autism, and cancer.
Next, how can you know if you have low oxygen levels?
Many people think that they can measure oxygen levels directly, with a pulse oximeter that they clip to their finger. However, what this device measures, is the percentage of hemoglobin that is loaded with oxygen.
So, be aware that this device only provides an indirect estimate of oxygen levels.
Having said that, the normal blood oxygen saturation or level is usually between 95-100% as measured by a pulse oximeter.
However, what is “normal” can vary, and depends on factors such as altitude and overall health.
In general, if the oxygen levels in your blood are below 90%, it is considered low and you will need to see a doctor.
Your doctor can perform an arterial blood gas test (ABG). This test measures the amount of oxygen and carbon dioxide in your blood, as well as the acidity.
Next, let’s look at 9 factors that cause hypoxia, other than air pollution.
People with anemia have symptoms such as shortness of breath, headache, confusion, restlessness, and rapid heart rate.
2. “Lung and Nasal Problems.”
Your lungs need to breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide to keep your oxygen levels normal. If you have asthma, COPD, pneumonia, lung scarring, or any other respiratory disease that affects your lungs, it can cause hypoxia.
Nasal blockages and excess mucus in the lungs, can also make it hard to breathe. An effective way to clean out mucus from your lungs is to use an OPEP or “Oscillating Positive Expiratory Pressure” device. Click the link below to see our recommended OPEP device.
3. “Obstructive Sleep Apnea”.
Sleep apnea is a dangerous condition that can lower oxygen levels, since individuals may stop breathing several times during the night.
4. “High Altitude”.
There is less oxygen in the air at high altitudes, so people who live in elevated locations often have more red blood cells and hemoglobin.
5. “Heart Disease”.
Children and adults who are born with heart defects may have low oxygen levels.
6. “Poor Blood Circulation”.
Some people have low oxygen levels even though they have healthy blood cells, hemoglobin, and oxygen saturation. Their hypoxia could be caused by poor blood flow. See our video, “7 vitamins to increase blood flow and circulation”.
7. “Low Blood Pressure”.
Severely low blood pressure can reduce the body’s oxygen levels. This can cause damage to the heart and brain.
8. “Chronic Stress”.
Stress can trigger your body’s fight-or-flight response and lead to lower oxygen levels in the blood. People who are stressed and anxious tend to experience shortness of breath.
9. “Chronic Inflammation”.
Cytokines and other pro-inflammatory messengers can reduce the amount of oxygen that reaches your tissues from capillaries.
All the diseases we mentioned earlier—such as heart disease, COPD, sleep apnea, and asthma—involve chronic inflammation.
Next, what are the benefits of getting enough oxygen?
Studies have shown that oxygen helps:
Increase energy levels and improve strength and endurance.
Maintain good cognitive function, memory, and concentration.
Detox your blood and prevent lactic acid build-up.
Reduce stress, calm anxiety, and improve sleep quality.
Promote healthy blood vessels and prevent hypertension and heart disease.
Strengthen the immune system and promote wound healing.
Delay aging and maintain a youthful appearance.
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Next, let’s look at 6 ways to increase oxygen levels.
Let’s begin with Number 6. “Exercise and Breathe Fresh Air.”
Improving oxygen levels can be as simple as opening your windows or going for a short walk in nature.
Getting quality sleep and regular physical activity helps to increase your oxygen intake and reduce stress.
Both aerobic and muscle-strengthening exercises can benefit your lungs.
Next is Number 5. “Practise Deep Breathing.”
The average person breathes 12-18 times per minute. When you take short, shallow breaths, your body automatically goes into a “fight-or-flight” mode as a result of being stressed.
For optimal breathing, take long, deep breaths at a rate of 6 times per minute. Doing this will ease your body into a restful and healing mode.
Doctors recommend diaphragm breathing, or deep belly breathing, to open your airways and increase the amount of oxygen in your body.
Breathe in through your nose till the air fills up in your belly. Then breathe out through your mouth 2 or 3 times longer than you breathe in. Practise this for at least 5 to 10 minutes every day.
At Number 4, we have “Lung Cleaning Device.”
If you suffer from a lung condition, such as asthma or COPD, you may have mucus blocking your airways. This makes it hard to breathe, even when you try hard. You may feel that your lungs simply won’t fill up with air. And no matter how hard you cough, you can’t get the mucus out of your lungs. The feeling is worse than uncomfortable–it’s terrifying.
To clean out your lungs and open your airways, try an OPEP device like the one we recommend below.
Getting into the top 3, Number 3 is “Quit Smoking.”
When you quit smoking, oxygen levels in your blood increase. That’s because cigarettes contain carbon monoxide, which binds to your hemoglobin and reduces oxygen in your bloodstream. Also, your lungs can work up to 30% better when you quit smoking.
Next, at Number 2, we have “Foods and Supplements that Increase Oxygen.”
Let’s look at the key nutrients that help to increase oxygen levels in the blood and tissues.
Iron is needed to make oxygen-carrying hemoglobin in red blood cells. About 70% of the body’s iron is found in hemoglobin. The top iron-rich foods are liver, red meat, and seafood.
Vitamin B12 and folate help your body produce red blood cells. These B vitamins are found in shellfish like oysters and mussels, pasture-raised eggs and dairy, fatty fish, and liver.
Copper and zinc are also involved in making hemoglobin and red blood cells. You can get these minerals from shellfish, meat, and seeds.
Vitamin C helps the body make collagen, a protein that keeps blood vessels healthy, so oxygen can be delivered to the tissues. Some vitamin C foods are bell peppers, kiwifruit, strawberries, oranges, and broccoli.
Vitamin E protects cells from the stress and damage caused by free radicals, and helps improve lung function. The top foods rich in vitamin E are almonds, sunflower seeds, hazelnuts, spinach, and sweet potatoes.
Magnesium is essential not just for producing but also sustaining healthy ATP levels and cellular energy production. Some magnesium-rich foods are dark leafy greens, nuts and seeds, avocados, whole grains, and dark chocolate.
Beetroot juice is rich in nitrates, which your body converts into nitric oxide. Nitric oxide relaxes and dilates blood vessels, improves blood flow, and increases the delivery of oxygen to the cells. Other nitrate-rich foods include spinach, carrots, arugula, cabbage, garlic, broccoli, kale, and celery.
Creatine is an amino acid that is stored in the muscles and provides energy for muscle contractions. It can help improve your oxygen uptake and performance during exercise. Some good sources of creatine are red meat, salmon, herring, tuna, and sardines.
CoQ10 or Coenzyme Q10 is a molecule found in the mitochondria of cells where it helps to generate ATP energy. Good sources of CoQ10 are organ meats, oily fish, meat, soybeans, broccoli, and pistachios.
Finally, herbs such as hawthorn berry, ginkgo biloba, garlic and ginger help improve circulation and increase oxygen uptake.
And at Number 1, we have “Anti-inflammatory Oxygen Therapy.”
Atmospheric air is comprised of roughly 21% oxygen. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy, or HBOT, involves breathing in 100% oxygen at 1.5 to 3 times the normal atmospheric pressure inside an airtight chamber.
Using oxygen at a higher pressure allows 20 times more oxygen to be taken up by the bloodstream and transferred to injured organs and tissues.
This speeds up healing and recovery time.
Any condition that causes inflammation in the body can benefit from HBOT because oxygen is a natural antibiotic.
Doctors use HBOT to treat different conditions. These include wounds that are difficult to heal and infections in which tissue is oxygen-starved.
HBOT is also used for treating cancer, autism, multiple sclerosis, and fibromyalgia.
A “mini” version of HBOT, called a mild HBOT, can be purchased for home use.
Mild HBOT uses around 95% oxygen at 1.3 to 1.4 atmospheric pressure and has been known to produce significant results at little to no risk.
As always, this video is educational and does not constitute medical advice; we are not doctors.
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The next video to watch is “7 vitamins to increase blood flow and circulation”.