Mucus is a slippery substance your body produces to protect various tissues such as the lining of your nose, mouth, sinuses, lungs and digestive tract. Although it plays an important role in human health, conditions such as bronchitis, allergies, asthma and cystic fibrosis can cause excessive mucus production, increasing your risk for discomfort, congestion, inflammation and breathing difficulties. A healthy diet that limits certain foods may help reduce symptoms of excessive mucus production.
In a study published in the "European Respiratory Journal" in November 2007, researchers analyzed the health of 167 people who worked in a milk powder factory and 76 office workers, all in Thailand. Participants who were regularly exposed to milk powder were significantly more likely to experience nasal congestion, breathlessness, wheezing and reduced lung function than participants who worked in an office environment. Dairy products may also increase mucus production if you are allergic to cow's milk, which is one of the more common food allergies, and they can thicken mucus in almost anyone. Common dairy sources include milk, yogurt, cheese, sour cream, ice cream and pizza.
Certain Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are prime sources of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, which support your body's ability to resist and heal from illnesses. However, certain varieties may increase mucus production, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center, or UMMC. Potential culprits include bananas, potatoes, corn and cabbage.
Added sugars such as high-fructose corn syrup, cane sugar and fructose, add calories and sweetness, but few nutrients. Sugar also may increase mucus production, according to the UMMC. Foods particularly high in added sugars include candy, milk chocolate, frosting, pancake syrup, jellies, frozen desserts and commercially made cakes, cookies, pastries and pies. Sugar-rich beverages include regular soft drinks, energy drinks, sweetened iced tea, lemonade and fruit punch.
In addition to milk, other food allergens such as wheat, soy and artificial additives and preservatives may increase mucous production. If you suspect that these or other foods worsen your symptoms, seek proper testing from your doctor. To confirm an allergy or determine if you have an intolerance, which is milder than an allergy, your health care provider may suggest eliminating suspected problem foods from your diet. If your symptoms then improve, your symptoms may be diet-related.
- "European Respiratory Journal"; Respiratory Effects of Occupational Exposures in a Milk Powder Factory; P. Sripaiboonkij et al.; Nov. 2009
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Cystic Fibrosis
- MayoClinic: Cold Symptoms: Does Drinking Milk Increase Phlegm?
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Food Allergy
- Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images
This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.