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What is more vital to life than breath? When God formed man out of the dust of the earth, He “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul” (Genesis 2:7). When God breathed into man, he awoke to health, strength, and life.
What could be more important to keeping life and health than the quality of the air we breathe?
The brain weighs only about three pounds, but it needs enormous quantities of oxygen and glucose, compared to the rest of the body. Although the brain makes up only about 2% of the body’s weight, it uses 20% of the body’s oxygen and 25% of the body’s glucose! The brain never rests, even during deep sleep. In fact, much repair and rejuvenation takes place during sleep. While sleeping, we need more oxygen than ever—and that’s when we close the windows the tightest!
Have you ever noticed that when you sit in a stuffy room, you tend to feel groggy, listless, and even a little confused? This is because your brain is being deprived of oxygen, and proper nerve conduction and transmission cannot take place. Other factors, such as alcohol, caffeine, tobacco, and a high fat diet can also deprive the brain of the oxygen it needs. If your “thinking place” seems a little sluggish, perhaps you should take a personal inventory of your lifestyle habits—next to an open window, of course!
The brain isn’t the only part of the body that needs oxygen. In fact, every organ of the body must have fresh air in order to function at its best. Your blood stream is an oxygen-transporting superhighway, taking oxygen wherever it is needed. When we breathe deeply of fresh, pure air, the red blood cells rush their precious store of oxygen and nutrients to the body tissues. Without oxygen, cells quickly begin to die. And cells that get only part of the oxygen they need are more likely to develop cancer!
Nearly everyone knows that air pollution increases the likelihood of asthma and lung damage. But did you know that breathing poor air can also increase your chances of dying from cardiovascular disease?
Air pollution comes in many forms, and they are all a threat to your health, from smog to insect sprays to cigarette smoke. In fact, scientists estimate that passive cigarette smoke—that’s where you breathe someone else’s smoke—causes 5,000 lung cancer deaths each year! You say you don’t smoke, use insecticides, or live in a smoggy area? That wood stove in your living room or the kerosene heater in your shop can rob you of the pure air your body needs. If you are using these forms of heat, fresh air ventilation is absolutely essential. Even in winter, keep your windows cracked open—and notice the difference in how well you sleep and how alert you feel when you wake up!
Of course, if you are living in an area where you are surrounded by pollution, you may need to do more than open the window. Perhaps you and your family should consider moving to an area where you can get the fresh, pure air your bodies require. If you need to beat a path to a new environment, remember this promise: “In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths” (Proverbs 3:6). And start really breathing!
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“Air, air, the precious boon of heaven, which all may have, will bless you with its invigorating influence, if you will not refuse it entrance. Welcome it, cultivate a love for it, and it will prove a precious soother of the nerves. Air must be in constant circulation to be kept pure. The influence of pure, fresh air is to cause the blood to circulate healthfully through the system. It refreshes the body and tends to render it strong and healthy, while at the same time its influence is decidedly felt upon the mind, imparting a degree of composure and serenity. It excites the appetite, and renders the digestion of food more perfect, and induces sound and sweet sleep” (Counsels on Health, page 60).
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