How Can Your Diet Protect Your Voice?

Professional singers probably all have one thing in common: the fear of entering into a 'vocal crisis': the loss of control over the vocal cords that are the basis of their livelihood. There are many methods that singers use to keep their voice in shape, including drinking plenty of water, since vocal cords vibrate quickly, and the right levels of moisture keep them hydrated. Habits to be avoided, meanwhile, include smoking (which can irritate the vocal cords), and throat clearing (which is akin to slamming vocal cords together, harming them in the process and making one hoarse). Dietary changes can also help keep vocal cords in optimal condition, protecting them against hoarseness, pain, and irritation.

Limiting the Consumption of Alcohol and Caffeine

If your voice is your instrument, it is important to consume a moderate-to-low amount of alcohol and coffee, since these substances dry out the vocal cords. This is one reason why one can develop a headache after consuming these beverages. Their dehydrating effect tends to tighten the vocal cords, thus hindering voice range and endurance. Signs you may have consumed excessive amounts include a hoarse or raspy voice, or feeling the need to clear one's throat often.

What Role can the Mediterranean Diet Play in Protecting Your Voice?

A healthy voice requires generally good muscle tone and stamina, as well as endurance. A healthy anti-inflammatory diet such as the Mediterranean diet can promote these qualities. The Mediterranean diet is composed of healthy proteins, seasonal fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and healthy Omega-3 essential fatty acids. Because it is antioxidant rich and anti-inflammatory, this nutritional regime will help keep colds and other infections at bay. If you aren't into fruits and vegetables and don't know how to fit in your five-a-day, one easy way to do so is through fruit smoothies. Keep inflammation and painful vocal cord swelling at bay by making low-sugar smoothies from a list of low-glycemic index fruits such as cherries, oranges, berries, spinach, kale, watermelon, pineapple, and papaya. Add a small teaspoon of spirulina, Goji berries, or acai into your fruity concoction for an antioxidant boost.

Guarding Against Acid Reflux

When acid reflux is severe, acid can travel up the esophagus and into the throat. Acid reflux occurs when the LES (a muscle that serves the purpose of a valve, keeping food from returning to the esophagus) is weak or relaxes when it shouldn't, letting contents from the stomach rise up the oesophagus. Medication is required for severe acid reflux, but dietary changes can help improve lighter cases. Avoid acidic foods such as citrus fruits, tomatoes, chocolate, garlic and onions, mint, and spices.

Keeping your vocal cords in peak condition involves staying healthy and hydrated. Feed your body the foods it needs to stave off disease, ensuring you consume enough antioxidant-rich produce. Because coffee and alcohol and diuretics, keep your consumption of these substances low and remember to drink at least eight glasses of water a day to keep your vocal cords lubricated.

-Sally Writes - MU Columnist

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