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Breathing is one of those many aspects of life that we all take completely for granted for the vast majority of our time on planet Earth.
It represents not only a magnificent means of providing our bodies with oxygen, but also disposing of waste.
Recently researchers have attempted to see if there are any components in the waste part of our exhaled breath that could be useful in terms of diagnosing, stratifying and monitoring Parkinson’s.
In today’s post, we will discuss what breath is made up of, what this new research found, and explore what the potential implications of the findings are.
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“Breath is the finest gift of nature. Be grateful for this wonderful gift.”
On any given day, the average person takes 17,000 breaths (the normal rate for an adult at rest is 12 to 20 breaths per minute).
When we breath in, the inhaled air – made up of approximately 16% oxygen, 4% carbon dioxide, and 79% nitrogen – is taken down to a pair of organs we know of as the lungs. Most of us have two lungs, but they are not exactly alike. The lung on the left side of your body is divided into two lobes, while the lung on your right side is divided into three. And the left lung is also slightly smaller, making room for your heart.
Combined, your lungs contain approximately 2,400 kilometres (1,500 miles) of airways and 300 to 500 million air sacs (called alveoli – Source). Through the thin walls of the alveoli, oxygen from the inhaled air passes into your blood in the surrounding capillaries. At the same time that this is occurring, carbon dioxide moves from your blood and out into the air sacs.
When you breathe out (exhale), your diaphragm and rib muscles relax, reducing the space in your chest. As the chest cavity gets smaller, your deflating lungs push the carbon dioxide-rich air up your windpipe and then out of your nose or mouth.
Exhaled air consists of 78% nitrogen, 16% oxygen, and 4% carbon dioxide. In addition to this, there are also trace amounts of “other stuff”.
And it’s that “other stuff”, where our post starts today.
Ok, I’ll bite: What do you mean by “other stuff”?