Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art

James Nestor. Riverhead, $28 (336p) ISBN 978-0-7352-1361-6
In this fascinating “scientific adventure,” journalist Nestor (Deep) follows the clues that connect breath to health. After several bouts with pneumonia and resultant breathing problems, Nestor enters a Stanford University experiment that involves spending 10 days breathing with his nostrils plugged, and another 10 with his mouth taped shut. The results are eye-opening: mouth breathing increases his snoring and sleep apnea, and causes raised blood pressure and other issues. His investigation also leads him to a breathing class in Haight-Ashbury, a yoga studio in São Paulo, and to a conversation with a dental researcher, who points out that the skulls of ancient humans have wider airways and perfect teeth. (Subsequently, Nestor learns that the industrialization of the food supply led to softer foods, less vigorous chewing, and thus crooked teeth and narrow airways.) Frequency of breath is crucial; while science reveals that the ideal rate is 5.5 breaths per minute, many people breathe too fast. Nestor argues that proper breathing, though not a panacea, is an important component of preventative health maintenance. While the process of breathing may seem like a no-brainer, Nestor’s fascinating treatise convincingly asserts that it’s easy to get wrong, and vital to get right. Agent: Danielle Svetcov, Levine Greenberg Rostan Literary. (May)
Reviewed on : 03/19/2020
Release date: 05/26/2020
Genre: Nonfiction
Book - 978-0-7352-1363-0
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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