I was just on the phone with a friend of mine and she was asking me if I knew of any home remedies or over-the-counter treatments for the build-up of mucus she has been dealing with. You know the one I am talking about, the one that clogs up your throat and/or drips from the back of your sinuses. She explained that, in addition to the clogging of her throat, that it keeps her coughing and that she finds it hard to breathe at times.
The Bad and the Ugly
I told her, first and foremost, lay off the dairy. Dairy is infamous for increased mucus secretions due to the casein, which our bodies find hard to digest as it is. Dairy=milk and milk products; milk, cheeses, cottage cheese, yoghurt, butter, sour cream… For those of us with children, think of the times your pediatrician may have suggested you keep your little one off of milk while he is dealing with an ear infection. This is the reason.
Secondly, watch your intake of soy. Raising a predominately vegetarian (by individual choice) family, there was a time when I was first learning about vegetarianism that we ate ALOT of soy. I didn’t know any better at the time and thought that you had to have a meat-like substitute at every meal. It didn’t take me long to realize the pitfalls of a diet heavy with soy products (but that is a topic for another blog post) and one of the surprising things I learned was that soy might be one of the worst offenders for mucus build-up, especially if you have a soy allergy, known or unknown. So vegetarians, vegans and flexitarians beware. And yes, even you carnivores need to know that a good MANY of the convenience types of foods we all buy have soy in their ingredients. *Insert announce type of voice here* So be sure to read those labels.
Next, limit your intake of caffeine. Yep, you heard me right. I am, admittedly, a Diet Coke addict. So to have anyone tell me that the cure for whatever ails me is giving up caffeine causes my inner child balk and pout in the corner. She sticks out her bottom lip and stamps her feet on the ground, all while saying, “I don’t wanna stop drinking Diet Coke. I don’t. I don’t. I don’t!” I don’t like anyone to tell me Diet Coke is horribly toxic, or that limiting caffeine might help my headaches or anything else I might suffer from time to time. But I do have to admit, in most cases, it is true.
Other foods, also fun to limit or give up would be salt, sugar, black tea. No one raised in the South wants to give up any of those things. Especially those that enjoy a ice-cold Southern Sweet Tea on a hot, summer day. We like our tea BLACK and SYRUPY SWEET. With, of course, something fried and sprinkled heavily with salt. (Notice I didn’t tell you to watch those fried foods. Yay, me?)
Now, that I have told you what to limit or cut out.. I mean will we really die if we don’t have caffeine, dairy, soy, salt, sugar or black tea? Definitely not. In fact, we might find we live healthier and longer lives. But this wasn’t about my soap box, so I am kicking it out of the way – for now. Now, let me tell you the things that you can add in to help break up the mucus that already exists in your body and sometimes feels as though it might be choking you out.
Spicy foods help release mucus. Think 5-Alarm Chili or a really good wasabi and the effect they have on your sinuses. Yep, you see where I am going with this. Cayenne pepper, chili powder, hot peppers, wasabi, horseradish, spicy, Asian mustards. You get the drift.
And for extra vitamins and minerals, increase your intake of Vitamin C, E and Zinc.
Last, but not least, more water. Water is the best at helping keep you hydrated and mucus free. So grab a glass and try to take a deep breath, knowing relief from all that nasty mucus is on it’s way.