Are You Glueing Up Your Body?
Do any of these symptoms strike a chord with you?
Sinus congestion, runny nose, sinus headache, frequent head colds, tickly cough (often clearing your throat), frequent chest infections, asthma, wheezy cough, sinusitis, bad breath, tinnitus and dizzy spells.
If so, you could be suffering from a build-up of mucous from eating too many mucous-forming foods.
So what are mucous-forming Foods?
Most people know that dairy foods create mucous in the body, and what’s interesting is that folk who suffer from mucous related problems often do consume a lot of dairy foods, such as cheese, milk and yoghurt. So you might think, “Problem solved; just cut out the dairy!” Well, unfortunately, it may not be so simple. For example, some of my clients who have started a dairy-free diet often notice some improvement in their symptoms; for example, their sinuses are no longer blocked in the mornings. However, the problem sometimes persists and remains a mystery. Until, that is, we explore the rest of their diet and discover that they’re still eating plenty of mucous generating foods. In fact, most people are shocked to discover that, apart from dairy foods, grains can also create mucous in the body. They’re even more surprised when I tell them that all starchy foods also create mucous. So, imagine an individual whose diet revolves around dairy foods, grains and other starchy foods? Is it surprising that they’re constantly clogging up their entire system?
If you’re not convinced about the mucous-forming properties of starch, just try pouring some starch powder into water and giving the mixture a good stir. Pretty soon you have this mucilaginous liquid that resembles glue. In fact, this is why flour (high in starch) and water were used to make wallpaper paste in the past.
The Mucous Generators
Dairy foods such as milk, cheese and yoghurt are some of the worst offenders when it comes to increasing mucous production in the body. I’ve encountered so many people who have sinus given up dairy foods only to discover that their sinus problems or other forms of mucous congestion just disappeared.
Ideally, omit them from your diet entirely, or at least keep them to a minimum. Goat’s milk is thought to be a little less mucous-forming compared to cow’s milk.
The good news is that going dairy-free is a lot easier these days since alternatives such as almond, hemp and coconut ‘milks’ can be used as a substitute for dairy products. Always look at labels when purchasing products and ensure they state ‘Dairy free’ on the packet. Forget the soya milk, as it’s mucous-forming too.
Bad news for carnivores – all meats increase mucous production and should be kept to a minimum.
Same as for meats
Starchy vegetables include potatoes, parsnips, some varieties of squash (example, Crown Prince and onion squashes) and yams.
Who would have thought it? The humble bean a mucous-forming food! Well, not just beans as it turns out. Add the likes of lentils, chick-peas and every type of legume imaginable, and you begin to get the picture. What have they all got in common; you’ve guessed it – they’re all high in starch; and therefore, mucous-forming.
Most grains are mucous-forming, including wheat and rye. The least mucous-forming include quinoa and millet. Grains are much more easily digested and produce less mucous when sprouted. A certain type of bread known as Essene bread is actually made from sprouted grains, and this makes this type of bread much healthier.
A lot of people are surprised when I tell them that soy products can increase mucous in the body. One of the worst soy products is soya milk, which is a highly processed food. The best form of soy products are those that are fermented as they’re much more easily digested. For example, tofu made from fermented soy.
Soy is used in an assortment of foods such as cereals, protein bars, cakes, cookies and breads. Because limiting or avoiding soy is not as easy as simply not eating soy by itself, again, label reading becomes a crucial weapon in the quest to reduce mucus.
Wheat / Gluten
Yes, I know we’ve mentioned grains already, but these two mucous generators deserve a special mention of their own. Wheat and gluten, which is the naturally derived by-product of wheat, can cause excess mucus. This becomes even more concerning when people have gluten allergies or sensitivities, such as those with Coeliac disease. Reducing and removing both wheat and gluten from a diet can help alleviate excess mucus. Gluten free food labeling has become common and is clearly noted on food packaging and labels.
Good news folks! There aren’t too many mucous-forming fruits. Bananas are one of the few starchy fruits and should be eaten in moderation when attempting to minimise mucous in the body.
Sugar, particularly white, refined sugar and processed sugar, can increase mucus in the body. For this reason, when trying to eliminate mucus causing foods from your daily dietary intake, remove foods high in sugar content.
Fruit Juices and Water
On the opposite end of the spectrum, there are foods you can consume to help alleviate excess mucus. Fruit juices, mainly apple or orange juice, can help thin out mucus due to citric acid. Consume as much water as possible when you are experiencing bouts of excess mucus.
I just want to point out that I’m not advocating avoiding every mucous-forming food for the rest of your life. It’s really about keeping the mucous generators down to a minimum. This will keep your lymphatic system and lungs a working more efficiently. You’ll have less coughs and colds; asthma sufferers may experience less asthmatic attacks and your sinus congestion will become a thing of the past.
What Happens When We Adhere to a Low Mucous or Mucous-Free Way of Eating?
When we begin to place more emphasis upon a mucous-free diet, the body will seize the opportunity to give itself a house clean. In other words, mucous that has been stored up in the body will begin to be eliminated through the eliminatory channels, including the stools and also through the respiratory tract. This was demonstrated to me in no uncertain terms when a friend of mine in my local gym decided to follow my advice. He had suffered for years from sinus congestion and sinus infections. He’d lost his sense of smell and often suffered from dizzy spells (mucous congestion in the sinuses would sometimes appear to impact on the inner ear, causing dizziness). I asked him to keep a food diary for a week so that I could evaluate what foods he was consuming on a regular basis. Well, guess what? He was consuming lots of bread, biscuits, cakes and dairy produce. Acting on my advice he began to phase these out, replacing them with more fruits and low starchy vegetables. Over the next two weeks he suffered from what seemed to be a nasty cold. However, I knew that this was just his body, now unencumbered by the daily barrage of mucous generating foods, expelling mucous via his respiratory tract. Sure enough, when those symptoms diminished, he began to feel better than he had for years. The sinus pressure was greatly relieved, the dizziness disappeared, he was more clear headed and he even regained his sense of smell. It was a good example of our body’s innate intelligence in action – in other words, it knows what to do given the conditions it needs to heal itself.
Low Starch Veggies and Fruits -The Inner Cleansers
Have you ever wondered why fruits and vegetables form the basis of most detox diets? Well, it really comes down to their unique ability to cleanse and alkalise the body. For example, fruits are often acidic, but when consumed they’re converted to alkaline salts. This serves to prevent the body from becoming too acidic, which can cause a myriad of health problems; in addition to clearing out all of that gooey mucous and help the body to rid itself of stored-up toxins. When that happens, your body will be much cleaner inside and in a better position to heal.
Here are some examples of fruits and vegetables that fight mucous:
Apples, apricots, blueberries, blackberries, cherries, grapes, kiwi, pears, pineapple, mangoes, melons (all types)
Broccoli, beetroot, cauliflower, cabbage (all types), carrots, onions, courgettes, cucumber, celery, radish, Swede, Brussels sprouts, Kohl rabi, turnips, tomatoes, spinach, kale, lettuce (all types), sprouted seeds such as sunflower greens, alfalfa, radish sprouts and broccoli sprouts.
When making the transition to a low mucous diet, it is advisable to seek the guidance of a suitably qualified health professional; for example, a Naturopath or Nutritional Therapist. With the proper guidance and support, you will avoid the risk of expelling too much mucous for your body to deal with in a short period of time. Essentially, it’s best to make a gradual transition towards a mucous-free lifestyle.