The New Mind-Blowing Science of Breathing with James Nestor

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There is nothing more essential to our health and well-being than breathing, yet, as a species, humans have lost the ability to breathe correctly, with serious consequences. Modern research is showing us that making even slight adjustments to the way we inhale and exhale can jump-start athletic performance, rejuvenate internal organs, halt snoring, asthma, and autoimmune disease, and even straighten scoliotic spines. 

On today’s Broken Brain Podcast, our host Dhru talks to James Nestor, an author and journalist who has written for Scientific American, Outside, The New York Times, and more. His latest book, Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art, was released in May of this year and was an instant New York Times bestseller. Breath explores how the human species has lost the ability to breathe properly—and how to get it back. James has appeared on dozens of national television shows, including ABC’s Nightline and CBS’s Morning News, and on NPR. He lives and breathes in San Francisco.

In this episode, Dhru and James talk about how breathing isn’t just a biological function that we depend on to survive. It’s also a very useful tool for healing the body and focusing the mind. They discuss the problems associated with mouth breathing and how it can cause neurological issues, respiratory issues, high blood pressure and more. James also shares how he enlisted in a Stanford University experiment to have his nasal cavities plugged, and was forced to breathe only through his mouth in an effort to test how the pathways through which we breathe affect our health. This experiment helped him realize how to address decades of respiratory impairment that plagued him since childhood. 

In this episode, we dive into:  

  • How important our breathing process is to human health (2:59) 
  • James’ personal health journey and how he came to realize the central role our breath has in overall health (4:01) 
  • The connection between human evolution and the way we breathe (5:56) 
  • How we breathe influences so much of our health (10:43)  
  • Stanford University breathing experiment (12:40) 
  • How our modern industrial diet has impacted the way we breathe (16:08) 
  • How lung capacity is synonymous with longevity (25:54) 
  • How breathing less increases oxygen and CO2 (31:01) 
  • How to establish better nasal breathing (47:39) 
  • Mouth breathing and dehydration (54:45) 
  • How to breathe inline with our metabolic needs (56:10)
  • The importance of eliciting a parasympathetic response before you eat (59:39)
  • How to breathe in order to reduce inflammation in the body (1:00:56) 
  • Are we getting enough oxygen when we wear a mask (1:04:07)
  • Where listeners can learn more about James Nestor (1:13:42)

For more on James Nestor you can follow him on Instagram @MrJamesNestor, on Facebook @MrJamesNestor, on Twitter @MrJamesNestor, and through his website Get his book, Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art at

Also mentioned in this episode:

For more on Dhru Purohit, be sure to follow him on Instagram @dhrupurohit, on Facebook @dhruxpurohit, on Twitter @dhrupurohit, and on YouTube @dhrupurohit. You can also text Dhru at (302) 200-5643 or click here

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Wishing you health and happiness,
Mark Hyman, MD
Mark Hyman, MD


Mark Hyman, MD

Mark Hyman, MD is the Founder and Director of The UltraWellness Center, the Head of Strategy and Innovation of Cleveland Clinic's Center for Functional Medicine, and a 13-time New York Times Bestselling author.

If you are looking for personalized medical support, we highly recommend contacting Dr. Hyman’s UltraWellness Center in Lenox, Massachusetts today.


If you are looking for personalized medical support, we highly recommend contacting Dr. Hyman’s UltraWellness Center in Lenox, Massachusetts today.

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