Lessons from the Simpsons – What we could learn from Cletus

Unless you have been hibernating on Mars you have watched an episode of the Simpsons? If by some miracle you have not, it is essentially a tongue and cheek reflection of American Society that lays bare every stereotype known to man. The obese, incompetent police Sargent, the school principle who still lives at home with his mother and of course illegal immigrant shop keeper. It could be argued that every character in the Simpsons is a stereotype.

One such character is Cletus Delroy Montfort Bigglesworth Spuckler, also known as Cletus the Slack-Jawed Yokel, he is a stereotypical redneck with a good-natured personality. His appearance is thin , slouched over and is usually portrayed as being goofy. The most noticeable feature is his slack jaw and over crowed teeth – a mouth breather. This is commonly accepted stereotype that mouth breathers are goofy, unattractive and less intelligent than their noise breath counter parts.

When I first read Nutrition and physical degeneration by Western A Price he commented on how the shift from traditional foods has effected human craniofacial growth and development resulting in insufficient room for the wisdom teeth, crowded teeth, weak chins, unattractive appearance, mouth breathing and poor posture. THINK CLETUS.

I’ve always been interested in the power of breath and how this automatic function requires conscious development. Now I am not the first person to put emphasis on breath, as breathing techniques have been passed through cultures and centuries. Yogis place attention on breath, Wim Hoff has made breath work popular but the biggest advocated of nose breathing has been Patrick McKeown. A native of Ireland Patrick has had his personal struggle with breathing issues which lead him on a mission to promote the use of nose breathing through the Buteyko method. The methods he promotes are underpinned by scientific literature as opposed Simpsons stereotypes however I do feel that if Cletus adopted his methods, they may be life changing!

I interviewed Patrick (see our interview here https://podcasts.apple.com/ie/podcast/obfunplugged-podcast/id1507926072?i=1000471424274 or https://youtu.be/Hg4MiZYLLhM) and can personally validate his methods as I have now slept 25 days with my mouth taped over forcing me to breathe through my nose. It has been a game changer as  I have woken up every morning refreshed and ready to attack the day.

In a nutshell nose breathing imposes approximately 50 percent more resistance to the air stream, as compared to mouth breathing. This results in 10 to 20 percent more oxygen uptake. In our conversation Patrick cited a study in which the participants have their jaws wired shut forcing them to nose breath, the results demonstrated that the presence of oxygen in the blood increase by 10%. Now that is a game changer on so many levels. The general benefits that oxygen brings to our body includes:

• Creates energy

• Helps with the digestion of  food

• Eliminate toxins from the body

• Fuel the body muscles

• Metabolize fat and carbohydrates

• Increased clarity

• Transport gases across cell membranes

• Strengthen our immune system

• Manufacture hormones and proteins

• Remove viruses, parasites and harmful bacteria

• Keeps the heart pumping and healthy

• Incites the lungs to breathe

• Allow the nervous system, and all other body tissues to function normally.

That enough?

The human nose was designed for breathing (and smelling) whereas the mouth was designed for eating, drinking and speaking. However, it has been estimated that up to 30-50% of modern adults breathe through the mouth, especially during the early morning hours. Mouth breathing is common in individuals whose nasal passages are blocked or restricted. A deviated nasal septum or small nostril size can lead a person to breathe through their mouth instead of their nose. However, breathing through the mouth most of the time was not nature’s intention.

Many studies have demonstrated that chronic mouth breathing can result in several adverse health consequences such as

  • Introduction of unfiltered, poorly humidified air into the lungs
  • Upper chest breathing (inefficient and tiring)
  • Chronic over-breathing
  • Greater incidence of snoring and sleep apnoea
  • Bad breath, dental decay, gum disease
  • Dysfunction of the jaw joint (temporomandibular joint disorders)
  • Narrowing of the dental arch, jaw and palate
  • Crowded and crooked teeth
  • Open bite, malocclusion (teeth not fitting together properly)
  • Greater potential for relapse of orthodontic corrections
  • Dysfunctions of the muscles around the jaw and lips
  • Loss of lip tone with the lips becoming flaccid
  • Noisy eating, speech and swallowing problems
  • Trauma to soft tissues in the airways
  • Enlarged tonsils and adenoids

The evidence from the Simpsons and the scientific community is clear, close your mouth and open your nose. Patrick promotes LSD, not the hallucinogenic, it is an abbreviation for Long, Slow, Deep breathing. This requires conscious thought. You may not want to go taping your mouth at night just yet, but Patrick claims that tape encourages your mouth to close which is physiologically reassuring (https://buteykoclinic.com/myotape/). He also has many videos on YouTube that explains his LSD so technique. To conclude, the Simpsons is classic Americana, and we owe a lot to if for influencing our sense of humour but also it highlights areas in society that require interventions , one breath at a time.


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