Sexy topic alert: You know that moment when you clear your throat but still feel like you have mucus lingering back there (and then you try again and again to the delight of your coworkers)? Well, it turns out that dairy—which gets pretty bad rap for causing this, acne, and more—may not be the only food allowing phlegm to thrive in the back of your throat.
“Certain foods may cause excess phlegm buildup, notably dairy products that are known to amp up mucus production,” explains Kate Gavlick, nutritionist and blogger behind VeguKate. “Other foods that may be associated with phlegm production include refined grains and sugars, red meat, and refined oils like soybean and canola.”
Chowing down on fiber-packed fruits has been linked to reduced levels of mucus and overall increased respiratory health. Meaning apples, oranges, and berries are all on the phlegm-be-gone menu.
In addition to these, any ingredients containing high levels of histamine (a compound released in your body during allergic reactions), like coffee, soy products, cabbage, and pasta, can also signal to your system to produce more mucus. But it’s important to note that every body reacts slightly differently to these foods. While you might have a reaction due to a minor food intolerance, Gavlick explains that a digestive condition, infection, or allergy could also be behind it. So if you do start to notice buildups on the reg, definitely make an appointment to chat with your doctor.
In the meantime, the nutritionist recommends chugging plenty of water to help lubricate the throat and thin the mucus, avoiding dehydrating beverages like coffee, and eating your fill of healthy fats and fiber. A study from 2004 actually linked chowing down on fiber-packed fruits to reduced levels of mucus and overall increased respiratory health. Meaning apples, oranges, and berries are all on the phlegm-be-gone menu. Ahhh, now you’re breathing easier—right?
If you’re considering ditching dairy, for good—here’s your official guide to choosing an alt-milk option and what happened when one editor cut it out of her diet for a full week.
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