Mucus can be a good thing, helping to trap dirt and germs and keeping you from getting infections. However, in larger amounts it can be irritating, making you cough and giving you a sore throat. Avoiding certain foods can help minimize mucus production, but it can also make it hard to get enough of certain nutrients, so only do this for a short time. Excess mucus can caused by several medical conditions. See a medical professional if you frequently experience excess mucus.
Mucus Free Diet
Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a mucus free diet. However, food allergies can contribute to mucus production. Eggs, milk, soy, fish, shellfish, wheat, tree nuts and milk are the foods most likely to cause food allergies. If you're allergic to these foods, avoiding them might affect the amount of mucus in the body.
However, avoiding these foods if you're not allergic to them is unlikely to reduce the amount of mucus you produce. This is even the case with milk, despite a common belief that milk and dairy products increase mucus production.
According to Virtual Medical Centre, drinking milk doesn't cause people who have the common cold to produce more mucus. Milk has a texture similar to mucus, which can contribute to the misconception that more mucus is present in the throat.
Histamine and Excess Mucus Production
Histamine may cause your nose to make more mucus, especially when you have an allergy or are under stress. Some types of fish, such as anchovies, smoked fish, sardines and mackerel, contain histamine. Tomatoes, spinach, eggplant, avocados, mushrooms and dried fruits also contain histamine, as do aged cheese, alcohol, cider, yogurt, vinegar, sour cream, processed meats and fermented foods.
While strawberries, shellfish, papayas, pineapple, bananas, chocolate and eggs don't contain histamine, they can cause your body to release it, making them foods to avoid when aiming for a mucus free diet.
Mucus Forming Foods
Other foods you may want to avoid, at least temporarily, to limit mucus include sugar, excessive amounts of salt, food additives, preservatives, cabbage, meat, potatoes and corn. Eating fewer processed foods, less salt and sugar and less meat will make your overall diet healthier, as long as you take extra care to get all of the essential nutrients in appropriate amounts. An anti-mucus diet limits so many foods that this can be difficult.
Foods that Decrease Mucus
Besides eating less of foods that may increase mucus production, eat more of foods that may decrease the amount of mucus your body makes. These include:
- rose hips tea
Many of these foods can be used to add flavor to your food without salt, which can increase mucus production. Make a salad that includes watercress, onions and celery topped with a dressing containing lemon juice, olive oil and parsley. For a snack, make hummus with chickpeas, parsley, pine nuts, olive oil, garlic, lemon juice and tahini and serve it with your favorite dipping vegetables.
- Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy: Milk, Mucus and Cough
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Food Allergy
- Journal of the American College of Nutrition: Milk Consumption Does Not Lead to Mucus Production or Occurrence of Asthma
- Virtual Medical Centre: Cold and Flu: What to Eat to Help Relieve Specific Symptoms