Here is a little bit of survival wisdom known as the Survival Rule of 3’s, that spells out the survivability of the average person:
Concerning those things, unless you are specifically trained, you should assume the Survival Rule of 3’s is true for you. We are going to take three of those rules and discuss them all as nutrients, the first one here.
- OXYGEN within 3 MINUTES,
- WATER within 3 DAYS,
- FOOD within 3 WEEKS.
I think of oxygen as the ‘respiratory nutrient’. Its deficiency is the most immediately fatal of all nutrient deficiencies.
There are a few things you should know about oxygen and the air you breathe. The oxygen in the air is produced by autotrophs (plants, algae, and certain bacteria). Autotrophs transform the carbon dioxide (CO2) all heterotrophs (animals, fungi, and certain bacteria) exhale, into oxygen, which all heterotrophs need to inhale; and the more autotrophs there are in an environment, the more oxygen rich the air will be.
Read more about Plants & Indoor Air Quality.
In most autotrophs, photosynthesis uses sunlight to convert carbon dioxide and water into glucose (C6H12O6, becomes plant biomass), and oxygen and water are released as byproducts:
6CO2 + 12H2O C6H12O6 + 6O2 + 6H2O
SeaWiFS global biosphere composite satellite image showing global photosynthesis from September 1997 to August 1998.
It is said that the amount of total global oxygen has been reduced by ~50% primarily within the last ~50 years mostly because of man’s destructive ways (deforestation). Even vast tracts of once forested regions shown on the above map are now devoid of vegetation. Deforestation not only decreases our available oxygen, but also increases global warming, and reduces habitat and our planet’s capacity to provide healthy watersheds.
More forests = more oxygen, in addition to our planet’s greatest of all treasures… since forests are habitat… biodiversity. Frontier forests are the true indicator of the health of planet Earth. Plant native tree species’ where you live!
Read more about Reenchanting the Earth… reforestation and other necessities toward achieving a healthy, happy, longliving planet (coming soon).
In most heterotrophs, cellular respiration is also called oxidative metabolism:
C6H12O6 + 6O2 ATP + 6H2O + 6CO2
A single molecule of glucose (produced by photosynthesis) oxidized to carbon dioxide and water also produces molecules of Adenosine-5′-triphosphate (ATP), the main intracellular energy transfer molecule.
There is more to the air than only oxygen (21% of air) and carbon dioxide (0.04% of air). There is naturally occuring nitrogen (78% of air), which is inert (nonreactive) to us because of the strong triple bonds holding the nitrogen molecule (N2) together. The rest of the air is a mix including argon (0.93% of air) and traces of other gases. Suspended within the air is a mix of dust, pollen, spores, water vapor, and pollutants. Air pollutants are especially concentrated at their point of origin, most commonly in industrial and urban areas.
Just how do we get the most oxygen out of each breath?
Throughout the centuries, the power of breathing has been used by individuals of vastly different cultures to simply relax… as well as to experience dynamic restorative wellbeing and achieve personal potential. The increase in body oxygen levels, such as in the brain and in the lymphatic system, that results from controlled deep breathing is the main factor in achieving many health and performance benefits. But there is more to it than merely getting more oxygen. It also involves self discipline resulting in more harmony between body and mind, and thusly a whole being awareness of self and surroundings. The simple act of breathing that we all have in common is not only necessary to life, but if done PROPERLY, is also a gateway to an improved attitude and newfound increases in the quality of life, such as:
- becoming happier and healthier;
- enhanced spiritual understanding and purpose;
- improved cognition and creativity;
- increased energy, focus, and mood;
- receiving uplifting insights;
- reduced stress and tension;
- resolved emotional conflicts;
- sleeping more soundly;
- strengthened immune system;
- Living HEALTHIER, HAPPIER, LONGER!!!
Some people scoff at the importance or efficacy of breathing techniques, but it is important to understand that breathing techniques are often most fully appreciated within a greater context such as yoga or dealing with stress, and as such, are often an advanced or adjunct way of achieving a higher contextual goal. Controlled breathing does not need to be done all the time to be effective. In fact, as little as a few minutes each day can produce an amazing difference in life quality.
Deep, slow, relaxed breaths are more efficient than hurried, stressed, and shallow breathing; and have the effect of helping establish and/or maintain a good mental outlook which is important to overall health, as negative emotions can overwhelm the body’s ability to maximally maintain health. Efficient breathing is prerequisite to meditation, and is said to recharge the solar plexus (a complex network of intersecting nerves in the abdomen), the chakra of which (known as Manipura) is one of the power chakras also known as “the ego” and is considered to be the energy seat of understanding the emotions, a reflection of perceived identity, worth, or place in the universe, and having to do with the aura and with etheric, astral, and psychic intuition. Physically, Manipura is associated with adrenal and pancreatic functions, important to managing stress and digestion.
Proper breathing requires some practice and can be of great benefit to your overall health. Proper breaths are deep, slow, and relaxed. They enhance the effectiveness of the lymphatic system and are thought to help the body eliminate toxins up to 15 times faster. One method of skilled breathing is a rhythmic cycle of calmly and deeply inhaling through the nose, [and OPTIONALLY allowing the breath to ‘sit’ (NOT holding or stifling the breathe) as full lung capacity is reached, for as many seconds as is comfortable (typically 3 to 6 for beginners)], and then without interrupting the rhythm, fully and calmly exhaling through the mouth or nose. It isn’t necessary to attempt to breathe this way all the time, just practice controlled breathing every now and then, whenever you feel the need to relax or improve breathing efficiency.
More efficient breathing also results in less pollutants entering our bloodstream, and more oxygen being delivered to the cells within our bodies. Good breathing is a combination of air quality (there can be a huge difference between indoor and outdoor air quality, as well as urban and rural air quality), genetic factors (big or small lungs, etc.), physical conditioning (cellular and cardiovascular condition, posture, weight, lung health, etc.), emotion management, and skilled technique. When exercising, make sure the air quality is high, as your increased heart rate will result in breathing in more of whatever is suspended in the air. For example, jog on nature trails, not along busy streets… and invest in some house plants that clean the air.
Read more about Plants & Indoor Air Quality.
There may come a time when breathing fresh air becomes difficult, such as in a disaster characterized by debris and fine particulate in the air.
Remember 9/11! The survival strategy of the people in the photo on the left is that of panic and thusly no survival strategy at all — it is doubtful they escaped the particulate cloud — their running wildly from the danger in all likelihood worked against them by making their breathing extremely hard and fast and lacking any kind of protective particulate mask would have made them extremely vulnerable to the particulate that soon overwhelmed them. The man in the photograph on the right has covered his mouth with a cloth, which requires a hand to hold it (what if he needs to climb over some debris or has an opportunity to help someone else walk?), and which might not form a positive seal all around the mouth and nose, and which is not made specifically to filter particulate, but which may be better than nothing…
These guys in the photo below are doing it minimally right; staying calm, with mouth and nose covered with a NIOSH-approved N95 facepiece respirator (95% is the minimum level of particulate filtering that will be approved by NIOSH [The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health]).
It may be a wise investment, especially when travelling through cities (or very dusty areas such as windblown deserts), to have a disaster survival kit in a small backpack that at least includes a N95 respirator facepiece which filters at least 95% of airborne particles. There are seven types of NIOSH-approved facepiece respirators:
N95, N99, N100, R95, P95, P99, and P100.
NIOSH-approved facepiece respirators will say NIOSH on them. The letter (N, R, or P) stands for Oil Resistance: N (none), R (somewhat), P (strongly). The number (95, 99, or 100) stands for % Airborne Particle Filtration: 95 (at least 95%), 99 (at least 99%), 100 (at least 99.97%).
For example, a P100 facepiece respirator filters at least 99.97% of airborne particles; and is strongly resistant to oil.
Facepiece respirators are made disposable, half-face or full-face. Disposable are good for fitting in small spaces such as a briefcase (please reference the above photo of the man carrying the briefcase… better to have one when one is needed than to have to try and improvise after the fact and risk respiratory illnesses)… some even fold flat, taking up even less space, such as 3M’s VFlex.
Half-face and full-face are designed for use with replaceable filter elements, and some can be fitted with all seven respirator filter and cartridge types. Full-face respirators are easier for people with mustaches to fit properly, and also protect the eyes, which is a huge advantage. I recommend everyone keep at least a disposable N95 in their carry bag, and also as a part of everyone’s disaster kit kept in the automobile and home… a half-face respirator… or even a full-face respirator.
Read more about Disaster Preparedness & Survival Kits (coming soon).
About me… Troy Boylan
Ecoculture Village Founder & President, Anthropology BA, Interdisciplinary Studies: Ethnobotany BS. Two things I think are worth anything at all… all things wilderness and ecoculture… and well, RPGs… and skateboarding!
So, what’s up!?