Shortness of Breath after Eating: Sign of Hyperventilation
The superficial causes of shortness of breathing after eating meals are numerous: Candida yeast infection, fats in the diet (if you are overweight), simple overeating, and so forth. But what about the physiological causes? They relate to changes in automatic breathing that most people may not even notice.
The digestive system is a sophisticated conveyor more complicated than any
modern chemical factory. It has its own brain (the enteric nervous system),
various organs, special chemical messengers for communication, and hundreds of
digestive enzymes. When we are hungry, the system is ready to accept and process
food. Eating without real hunger results in biochemical stress for some organs
and the whole system in general. (According to a recent survey "Americans and
Overeating", over 60% of
American women eat or have a snack when they feel stressed.)
What are the effects on breathing? Stress for the GI system, requirements in digestive┬
┬ enzymes and the need to store new chemical substances from the food in body cells, all these factors lead to hyperventilation causing shortness of breath after eating.┬ You can easily notice┬ the┬ negative effect of overeating on┬ your┬ breathing when you exercise.┬
Hence, the immediate effect of overeating is hyperventilation. What is
next? Overbreathing causes low CO2 content in alveoli and arterial blood leading
to reduced body-oxygen levels. Hence, overeating promotes any
chronic disease or health pathology.
Hyperventilation also reduces the oxygen content in the brain. This can cause many mental illnesses and disrupt work of
neurotransmitters and the state of the nervous system due to another
factor. CO2 is a stabilizer of the
nervous system or homemade sedative and tranquilizer. Apart from
psychological and neuronal effects, overbreathing will worsen heart or
cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, arthritis, and any other chronic
When hyperventilation is accompanied by overeating, the pancreas
experiences especially severe forms of stress. Overbreathing reduces blood
supply and oxygenation of pancreas, while overeating intensifies the demands in the
digestive enzymes to process extra-food substances. The final outcome is
pre-diabetes, where health will be further compromised by reduced insulin
efficiency caused by hypocapnia with noticeable shortness of breath.
The amplitude of these negative changes is proportional to the caloric value and type
of meal eaten. Therefore, with larger meals, especially ones with fats and
proteins, these effects are more significant. As Doctor Buteyko suggested, when
digested substances are in the blood, they are to be used or metabolized by body
cells. This cellular consumption means “inner breathing”. Thus, the respiration
of cells (this term is normally used by certain microbiologists), especially in
case of overeating, is intensified. That causes increased ventilation in the
human organism (Buteyko, 1977). Overeating, according to Doctor Buteyko, has the
worst possible consequences for respiration leading to shortness of breath after
Doctor Buteyko also found that meals rich in proteins (especially when they
are quick absorbing animal proteins) and, to a lesser degree, fats considerably
intensify breathing, while fresh fruits and vegetables produce the least impact
on ventilation. Why? One reason is due to varying availability of digestive
enzymes. Fresh fruits, for example, often have their own enzymes for
self-digestion making their digestion easier. Cooked meats and fats are hard to
digest. Second, the amino acids cause blood acidification. Therefore, the CO2
removal (or overbreathing) is required to restore the blood’s normal pH. Third,
some essential amino acids can directly affect the breathing centre and
An old study by Haselbalch (1912) revealed that after following a vegetarian
meal, aCO2 decreased to 43.3 mm Hg (the initial value was about 45 mm Hg); while
a meal with meat resulted in 38.9 mm Hg. Such a difference means that the CP
after a meat meal can be about 12 s less, than after a vegetarian one.
Explaining this finding in his textbook on respiration, Professor Haldane
suggested, that "a meat diet, which causes an increase of sulphuric and
phosphoric acids in blood, is acid-forming as compared to a vegetable diet,
which contains less protein and relative abundance of salts yielding
carbonates"(p.183, Haldane, 1922).
Hence, animal proteins produce an even worse
effect on shortness of breath after eating. However, it not advisable for all
people with less than 20 s for the body-oxygen test to become vegetarians. Low
body-oxygen content is also accompanied by ineffective protein metabolism and
increased requirements in dietary proteins.
the breathing centre compensates for
the additional acids (amino acids) in the blood and the resulting blood
acidification (low pH of the blood) by reducing carbonic acid and CO2 stores. While with the
vegetarian meal, the presence of additional alkaline salts in the blood requires
extra acids for blood pH preservation. Among all acids in the blood, carbonic
acid is the main component and its concentration can be changed by respiration.
These ideas provide some explanation why alkaline diets are considered to be
healthy in the management of various health problems (fruits and vegetables
yield alkaline residues in the blood when they are consumed), while acidic
diets (that include meats, fish, eggs, dairy products, most grains, legumes and
nuts) less so.
In addition to the immediate effects on respiration, a lack of normally
occurring food substances in the diet such as vitamins and minerals can
gradually cause chronic hyperventilation. For example, carbohydrates require for
their digestion adequate amounts of B vitamins. These vitamins are naturally
present in cereals, whole grains and root vegetables, but almost absent in sugar,
white bread and white rice. Thus, eating these refined products diminishes the B
vitamin content in nervous cells gradually leading to chronic hyperventilation
(Buteyko, 1977). Doctor Buteyko and his colleagues particularly emphasized the
dangers of sugar and refined products. The lack of some minerals (especially Mg,
Zn, and Ca) or their biochemical unavailability is another cause of chronic
Therefore, the typical western diets, which are often full of refined
products and lack fresh fruits and vegetables, have negative effects on
breathing. Most of all, overeating, so prevalent nowadays, is one of the major
causes of chronic hyperventilation.
What causes overeating and shortness of breath after eating?
to research and observations of more than 150 Russian doctors, when our breathing gets heavier and
alveolar CO2 concentrations decrease, less glucose is delivered to cells. This makes sense since overbreathing reduces circulation or blood flow. In order to improve glucose transport, the body rises glucose blood levels. But then another mechanism drives glucose from the blood into fat cells.
Since hyperventilation is
present in over 90% of normal people (as evidenced by 24 medical publications) most modern people should gradually accumulate
extra-weight. This is exactly what we see in real life. Shortness of breath
after eating is a common sign of overeating.
Conclusions. On a physilogical level, an ineffective breathing pattern (overbreathing) makes people experience compulsive overeating, stuffing, food addiction, obesity and
weight gain. All these abnormalities are possible only in conditions of
overbreathing with shortness of breath after eating as one of the symptoms.
Hence, if one wants to know how to stop overeating, he can change the way
he breathes. When we breathe more, we tend to eat
more. Eating more, on the other hand, is the stress for the organs of digestion, as
discussed above. Therefore, breathing becomes heavier at the end of the
digestive process. The solution to this vicious circle is breathing retraining
with the goal to slow down automatic (or unconscious) breathing.
The solution for shortness of breath after eating
People with shortness of breath after eating need to increase their body O2
content up to ... (the exact number for the body oxygen test that I tested on hundreds of my students)...
Resources: Constipation Pain Relief:
How to relieve constipation pain using 1-2 min breath work exercise.
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