Mucus is necessary in small amounts for helping trap dirt and germs, which are then moved to the back of your throat and swallowed. Sometimes, such as when you have a cold or infection, you may have more mucus than normal or thicker mucus than normal, which makes it more noticeable. Typically, foods contribute to mucus mainly if they cause an allergic reaction, increase histamine production or increase acid reflux symptoms.
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Food Allergies and Mucus
Allergies can also cause your body to make more mucus than normal, according to Dr. Anthony Komaroff in an article published on the Monterey Herald website. The main food allergens include eggs, fish, milk, tree nuts, peanuts, shellfish and soybeans. Other foods could also produce an allergic reaction and thus an increase in mucus.
Histamine and Mucus
Histamine is released during allergic responses, but it can also come from foods containing histamine or foods that tend to increase histamine production. Increased histamine levels can cause your body to produce more mucus. Foods that naturally contain histamine include cheeses, yogurt, sour cream, buttermilk, vinegar, smoked fish, mackerel, sardines, processed meats, anchovies, alcoholic beverages, cider, dried fruits, avocados, tomatoes, spinach, mushrooms and eggplant. Bananas, strawberries, pineapple, papaya, eggs and chocolate may also cause increased histamine levels.
Acid Reflux and Mucus
Acid reflux can cause you to experience an increase in mucus in your throat. The acid returning up your throat from your stomach can make your throat swell, and then mucus sticks to your swollen throat. Foods that can make acid reflux worse include chocolate, coffee, mint, tomato products, citrus juices, alcohol and carbonated beverages. Large meals or meals high in fat can also increase your risk for acid reflux.
Some people think that milk increases mucus production or makes it thicker or harder to swallow, but this is likely not the case, according to the Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy. A study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition in 2005 found that even in people suffering from the common cold, milk didn't increase mucus production and that other similar beverages, such as soy milk, had the same effect on people's perceptions of increased amounts of mucus.
Overall Dietary Pattern
Your overall dietary pattern can also affect mucus production. A study published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine in February 2006 found that diets high in sodium, meat and refined carbohydrates may increase mucus, while those containing plenty of fiber, fruits, vegetables and soy may help limit mucus production.
- Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy: Milk, Mucus and Cough
- Journal of the American College of Nutrition: Milk Consumption Does Not Lead to Mucus Production or Occurrence of Asthma
- Michigan Allergy, Sinus & Asthma Specialists: Foods That Contain Histamine or Cause the Body to Release Histamine, Including Fermented Foods
- American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine: Prospective Study of Dietary Patterns and Persistent Cough With Phlegm Among Chinese Singaporeans
- Monterey Herald: Ask Dr. K: Throat Mucus May Be Allergic Reaction
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Food Allergies: What You Need to Know
- Daily Mail: Ask the doctor: Why Do I Keep Needing to Clear My Throat?
- McKinley Health Center: The GERD Diet