Let’s be honest here. Snot, phlegm and all such icky discharges from our bodies tend to gross us out to the point where we think mucus is bad. The truth is, mucus is very important for our bodies in the same way that motor oil is to an engine.
Mucus is particularly helpful for the respiratory system
Mucus helps us in three ways:
- by forming a protective cover over the tissues, preventing them from drying out and cracking;
- by coating the tissue linings of the nose and throat like a sticky trap, preventing dust and bacteria from getting into the body and causing harm;
- while phlegm and snot (mucus in the lungs and nose) look gooey and disgusting, they contain antibodies to fight off infections, enzymes to kill bacteria, protein to make it a hostile environment and plenty of other cells.
Do I have too much mucus?
Even at your healthiest, your body produces about 1-1.5 liters of mucus every day. However, when battling with an allergy, infection or something just too spicy, your body goes into a mucus overdrive – resulting in a runny nose or the urge to hock. Coughs and colds are your body’s way of throwing out the infected phlegm and snot, though a lot of it also travels to your stomach and gets thrown out by the digestive system. You have excess mucus when battling an infection or allergy and obvious signs include a stuffy nose, coughing, crusty eyes and believe it or not, bad breath.
Certain foods have the ability to dry out mucus, in gentle and natural ways. If you are fighting an infection, try these foods to help eliminate mucus and bring it down to normal levels.
Onions are great for health overall and a compound called quercetin has shown promise in treating allergies and inflammation; as well as attenuating mucus production in the respiratory system. Note that quercetin is also found in leafy greens, tomatoes and other brightly colored veggies.
Despite its thorny appearance, a pineapple’s sweetness can help asthmatic and bronchial patients, as well as those with seasonal allergies, coughs and colds due to an enzyme called bromelain. Bromelain breaks down proteins, which phelgm and snot have in plenty, thus thinning it down and helping the body eliminate the excess.
3. Chicken Soup
Various studies over the years have proven that a bowlful of hot, spicy (with things like garlic and pepper) chicken soup is very effective in clearing out mucus by thinning it down and helping the lungs fight off further infection.
4. Citrus Fruits
A great and healthy way to eliminate infections and mucus from the body is antioxidants – and citrus fruits are bursting with vitamin C – one of the best antioxidants that nature has to offer. These anti-oxidants act as natural decongestants, loosening the phlegm and snot and helping the body throw it out.
5. Olive Oil
Olive oil brands often harp about a healthy compound, ‘oleocanthal’. This compound basically mimics the effect than anti-inflammatory drug ibuprofen has on the body, which helps thin out mucus and alleviate bronchospasms (coughing).
6. Green Tea with Honey
Most green teas including chamomile have plenty of flavonoids which reduce inflammation of the mucous membrane, thus lessening the body’s mucus overdrive. Honey is yet another anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory agent that further helps thin and reduce phlegm and snot. Aided by warm water, both of these help the body rid itself of the excess mucus that much faster.
Do some foods cause more mucus?
While foods by themselves don’t really cause the body to make excess mucus; some do aggravate an already inflamed or infected mucus lining, irritating it further. If you have excess mucus, avoid dairy and wheat products as well as alcohol, coffee, high-fat and high-sugar foods.
Featured photo credit: FitnessJournal via fitnessjournal.co.nz