Scientific Highlights

When you bring up breathing for better health, it immediately gets put into the “woo-woo,” pseudo-science category. However, I have been pleasantly surprised and heartened to discover so many articles written on different aspects of breathing. There are a seemingly endless number of connections to be made between breathing and diabetes throughout the scientific literature. Each of the categories below have my notes on key articles I have read and my attempt at making some of these connections. However, if you want to skip the nerdy science, everything I have learned has been consolidated into the Three Breathing Principles. Enjoy!

Science Highlights by Category

All Articles by Publication Date

Below are all of the best articles I have reviewed, listed in reverse chronological order (newest first) based on the date the article was published. Scroll through and pick one that interests you. You might find something “new” that was published decades ago!


- Slow breathing could potentially promote deep, restorative sleep


- Hypoxia has positive impacts on insulin and blood glucose levels while also increasing energy expenditure
- Slow breathing improves blood sugar by reducing body’s endogenous production of glucose
- Slow breathing improves autonomic function in type 1 diabetics
- Breathing center in brain has powerful effects on higher-order brain functions…calm yourself by breathing slowly
- Controlled breathing lowers sympathetic activity, even when performed at a relatively fast pace


- Nitric oxide carried by the red blood cells is essential for blood flow regulation and whole-body oxygenation
- NO is essential for blood flow and tissue oxygenation (again!)


- 3-15 cycles/day of intermittent hypoxia elicits therapeutic benefits for the heart, autonomic nervous system, immune system, glycemic control, & more


- Relaxation breathing significantly lowers blood sugar after an oral glucose tolerance test
- Sleeping in moderate hypoxia decreases weight and fasting blood sugars


- Hypoxic, intermittent exercise improves insulin sensitivity and beta cell function in type 2 diabetics
- Moderate exercise in hypoxia improves insulin sensitivity in type 2 diabetics
- Diaphragmatic breathing improves antioxidant status & HbA1c in type 2 diabetics


- Diaphragmatic breathing reduces oxidative stress in athletes after exhaustive exercise
- Diaphragmatic breathing increases insulin, lowers blood sugar, and reduces oxidative stress
- Resting or exercising in moderate hypoxia increases insulin sensitivity in type 2 diabetics
- Intermittent hypoxia improves the innate immune system and has a net anti-inflammatory effect
- Autonomic function can be restored by slow breathing even after a long-duration of diabetes


- Slow breathing decreases blood pressure, heart rate, and sympathetic nerve activity in mildly hypertensive patients


- Diaphragmatic breathing lowers HbA1c by up to 2%


- A sitting breathing exercise lowers the blood sugar of type 2 diabetics following a meal


- Resting breathing rate is associated with resting sympathetic activity
- Inhaled nitric oxide has positive impacts outside of the lungs in peripheral areas of the body
- Hyperbaric oxygen significantly lowers blood sugar in diabetic subjects


- High HbA1c in diabetics negatively impacts blood flow regulation and tissue oxygenation mechanisms of nitric oxide
- Relaxation improves HbA1c to a greater extent than moderate exercise


- Diabetics have less bioavailable NO due to high blood sugars


- The sympathetic nervous system increases glucose production directly and indirectly


- Hypoxia lowers blood glucose independent of insulin


- The autonomic nervous system of diabetics has a disrupted circadian rhythm