If speaking or singing is part of your profession, your diet can have a big impact on your career. There are foods that can aggravate and irritate your vocal cords, making it difficult to sing and speak for long periods. While there may not be a strict diet to follow in order to keep your vocal cords healthy, there are certain foods and drinks that you should avoid and some you should enjoy before a big event.
Avoid foods that create excess mucus:
Mucus can affect the tone, quality, and comfort of your voice. Dairy like yogurt, ice cream, and cheese can create excess mucus in your throat. Foods high in processed sugar like candy and juice may also increase mucus levels. Avoiding dairy and processed sugars should minimize the amount of mucus in your throat and keep your voice healthy. Eating foods like leafy greens, cauliflower, ginger, and berries may help reduce mucus.
Skip foods that irritate the throat:
Irritated or inflamed vocal cords can make it difficult or even painful to use your voice for prolonged periods. Spicy foods like cayenne or jalapeno peppers can irritate your vocal cords. They may also cause acid reflux, which can irritate the throat even further. Other foods that cause acid reflux include fried foods, carbonated drinks, high-fat meats, tomatoes, and citrus. Drinking licorice tea or other herbal drinks, warm decaffeinated beverages, and honey can all help soothe the throat. These may provide immediate relief to the vocal cords.
Avoid foods that dry out the throat:
The most obvious foods that dry out your throat are anything that contains high amounts of caffeine. Caffeine is considered a diuretic, meaning it takes more fluid out of your body than it brings in. Anything containing high amounts of caffeine should be avoided. Coffee, energy drinks, soda, and even some chocolate have high levels of caffeine. Alcohol is also a diuretic, so it should be avoided prior to using your voice for a long time. High amounts of citrus may also irritate the throat due to the acidity of the fruits. It is also wise to avoid excessive amounts of lemon, lime, orange, and grapefruit.
Make sure you stay hydrated:
According to a study on vocal fold dehydration, reduced water intake can lead to excess vocal fatigue. Drinking room temperature water can help hydrate the throat without negatively affecting the vocal cords. Drinks that are ice cold or scalding hot can constrict the throat muscles and cause unnecessary stress on the vocal cords. Increasing the amount of fruits and vegetables with a high water content can also help you stay hydrated. Cucumbers, green peppers, strawberries, tomatoes, watermelon, cauliflower, celery, lettuce, and spinach all have a water content over 90 percent.
Whether you are a singer, professional speaker, or have struggled with voice issues in the past, taking special care of your vocal cords is essential to keeping them healthy. If your voice is important to you, schedule an appointment with our voice specialist today! Call (212) 288-222 or schedule online.