Keeping your voice healthy isn’t just about avoiding colds or flus that make it difficult to sing or speak; you also need to maintain a healthy lifestyle and diet. While certain foods can be harmful for your vocal chords or trigger a mucous-filled throat, others can actually help improve your throat and vocal cord health.
Caffeine Drinks and Alcohol
All caffeinated beverages, including teas, coffee and certain sodas, are harmful for your voice. Because caffeine is a natural diuretic, it can cause your throat muscles to become dehydrated, leading to muscle constriction. Tight muscles make it more difficult — and more dangerous — for you to produce that lovely, smooth sound with your voice. Tight muscles, over a long or regular period of time, can lead to damaged vocal cords, causing raspiness, strain or even a loss in vocal ability.
Dairy and Dairy Products
Dairy products are one of the biggest food groups to avoid to protect your throat. Milk and milk products, including yogurt, cheese, ice cream, milk and butter, increase phlegm production in your throat. The extra mucous makes it difficult for to produce a consistently clear tone, as you’ll be spending most of your time clearing your throat or worrying that you will have to. While you don’t need to avoid all dairy products, consuming them right before a performance, or on a regular basis, isn’t recommended.
Staying well hydrated is key to a healthy voice, according to numerous vocal coaches. While ensuring you drink enough fluids throughout the day is key, you can also increase your fluid consumption through the foods you eat. In addition to the recommended eight 8-ounce glasses of non-caffeinated drinks, consider fruits and vegetables naturally high in water. The crisp, refreshing tastes of raw tomatoes, celery and cucumber will be welcome relief for your hard-working vocal cords. Similarly, fluid rich fruits such as apples, grapes and peaches are also “voice-friendly” choices.
Foods High in Vitamin A
Vitamin A can be found naturally in a variety of foods, and this essential vitamin helps keep your soft tissue, skin and mucous membranes healthy. Healthy mucous membranes, such as those found in your throat, give you better overall throat health. Vitamin A is found in high quantities in eggs and meat, particularly liver. It is also available in yellow and orange fruits and vegetables, such as orange sweet peppers, carrots, apricots and cantaloupe, as well as in dark, leafy greens, such as kale and spinach.