Mucus is a thick, viscous substance that lines the respiratory tract. It serves a very important role because it helps to protect the lungs from infection and foreign particles.

However, there are some foods that can cause the production of too much mucus. This article will discuss the foods that are most likely to cause problems with excess mucus production.

Keep reading to see how many of the mucus-causing foods you regularly consume in your diet.

1. Bread

Bread is a staple in many diets, which is why you may be saddened to hear that it can cause an increase in mucus production.

One study found that bread consumption was linked to chronic rhinosinusitis with nasal polyps, which are growths inside the nose.

The study found that people who ate more than two slices of white bread per day had higher rates of these symptoms.

Researchers also found a link between bread consumption and asthma. Their studies found that people who ate bread were more likely to experience asthma symptoms, such as wheezing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath.

2. Processed Meat

Processed meat is made up of meat that has been treated in some way to preserve it or enhance its flavor. This includes bacon, ham, hot dogs, sausage, and lunch meat.

Researchers found that eating processed meat was linked with an increased risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which is a condition that makes it difficult to breathe.

The study found that for every 10 grams of processed meat eaten per day, the risk of COPD increased by 7%. One of the unfortunate side effects of COPD is excess mucus production.

3. Sugar

It’s been well-documented that sugar is not something that should be included in a healthy diet. But, to add fuel to the fire, a study from 2014 found a link between sugar consumption and increased mucus production.

The study looked at the effects of sugar on nasal mucus in healthy people and people with asthma. It found that both groups produced more mucus after eating sugar.

The study also found that people with asthma had a greater response to sugar, producing more mucus than the healthy participants. This suggests that sugar may play a role in exacerbating asthma symptoms and making the condition worse.

You can substitute sugar for stevia, which is a healthy and delicious alternative.

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4. Milk

It’s no secret that milk is a source of calcium and other nutrients. But milk has also been shown to cause mucus.

A study from 2001 found that drinking milk increased the production of mucus in the nose and throat. The study found that participants who drank milk had more mucus in their noses when they blew their noses, and they were also more likely to have a sore throat.

Milk was also linked with an increase in the number of colds people experienced.

5. Fast Food

It’s no secret that fast food is unhealthy. But many are surprised to hear that it can increase the production of mucus.

A study found that eating fast food was linked with an increased risk of developing asthma. The study found that for every extra serving of fast food eaten per week, the risk of asthma increased by 18%.

One of the unfortunate side effects of asthma is excess mucus production. In addition, most fast foods are fried in vegetable oils that only make matters worse.

6. Soda

Just like fast food, soda has also been linked with an increased risk of developing asthma, which has been supported by multiple studies.

Researchers found that, for every extra serving of soda that you drink per week, it increases your risk of asthma by 21%. And, to make matters worse, most people drink soda while washing down that greasy, but often delicious, fast food meal.

7. Cheese

Multiple studies have shown that cheese causes a release of histamines in your body, which results in inflammation of your membranes, including those that produce mucus.

Researchers found that people who ate cheese four or more times a week were almost twice as likely to experience nasal congestion as those who didn’t eat cheese at all.

So, if you’re looking to avoid congestion and excess mucus production, it might be a good idea to skip the cheese plate.

8. Eggs

Eggs are a common ingredient in many dishes and are a good source of protein and other nutrients. However, unfortunately, some researchers believe that eggs can cause an increase in mucus production.

One theory is that the properties in eggs can trigger the production of histamine, which in turn triggers the production of mucus in your body.

Another possibility is that eggs contain a protein called ovalbumin, which can cause an immune reaction in some people. When the body perceives this protein as a threat, it creates antibodies to attack it. These antibodies also cause inflammation, which can lead to increased mucus production.

This is not to say that you should avoid eggs altogether. But, if you’re experiencing problems with mucus, it may be a good idea to be mindful and consider limiting your intake.

9. Corn

Corn is a popular food item in many cuisines around the world. While it may seem like a harmless ingredient, some researchers believe that it can cause an increase in mucus production.

A study found that subjects who ate corn protein had increased mucus along with more sneezing, itching, and a runny nose. The study also found that the subjects who ate corn protein were more likely to experience an asthma attack.

While the study found that corn may cause an increase in mucus production, it is not clear if this is a major concern for most people. More research is needed in this area, but if you’re worried about corn causing mucus buildup, you may consider eliminating it from your diet.

10. Sodium

Most Americans are consuming far too much sodium in their diets. In fact, many of the common foods that we eat are packed with sodium, and that could lead to an increase in the production of mucus.

Sodium causes inflammation in the body, which can lead to swelling. This causes the production of mucus to increase as a natural defense mechanism.

A study found that participants who ate salty foods had more mucus and were also more likely to have a sore throat. Sodium was also linked with an increase in the number of colds people experienced.

While it’s essential to include some salt in your diet, it’s also important to be mindful of how much you’re eating. If you’re experiencing problems with mucus, it may be a good idea to limit your intake of salty foods.

Anti-Mucus Diet: Top 10 Foods That Cause Mucus

FAQ

What is the Best Way to Reduce Mucus Production?

There are a few things you can do to reduce mucus production. Avoiding foods that cause mucus is a good place to start.

Drinking plenty of fluids can also help thin out the mucus and make it easier to expel. Saline nasal sprays can help clear the nasal passages and reduce mucus production. Steam inhalation can also help loosen mucus and make it easier to expel.

What Food Should I Stay Away From if My Nose is Runny?

If you’re experiencing problems with mucus, it may be a good idea to limit your intake of the foods that were mentioned in this article.

When Do the Mucus Membranes Heal?

Mucus membranes usually heal within a few days. However, if you’re experiencing problems with mucus, it’s best to speak with a doctor as they can help determine the root cause and offer treatment options.

Why is it Important to Avoid Mucus-Causing Foods?

These foods are known to cause an increase in mucus production. If you’re experiencing problems with mucus, it may be a good idea to limit your intake of these foods.

Do Eggs Cause Mucus?

As previously mentioned, eggs contain properties that can trigger the release of histamine, which can results in increased mucus production.

Furthermore, eggs contain ovalbumin, which is a protein that causes inflammation, resulting in more mucus being produced. This explains why eggs are often avoided in patients with obstructive lung diseases, such as asthma.

Final Thoughts

Mucus is a natural response of the body to protect itself from harmful invaders. And while it’s important to have some mucus in order to stay healthy, too much mucus can be a problem.

The foods we’ve listed here are all known to cause an increase in mucus production. If you’re experiencing problems with mucus, it may be a good idea to limit your intake of these foods.

Also, it’s best to speak with a doctor if you’re experiencing problems with mucus, as they can help determine the root cause and offer treatment options. Thanks for reading, and, as always, breathe easy, my friend.

Written by:

John Landry, BS, RRT

John Landry is a registered respiratory therapist from Memphis, TN, and has a bachelor's degree in kinesiology. He enjoys using evidence-based research to help others breathe easier and live a healthier life.

References

  • Kogan, Mikhail, et al. “NCBI – Chronic Rhinosinusitis and Irritable Bowel Syndrome: A Case Report.” National Library of Medicine, Integr Med (Encinitas), June 2016, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4982648
  • Kaluza, Joanna, et al. “NCBI – Long-Term Unprocessed and Processed Red Meat Consumption and Risk of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease: A Prospective Cohort Study of Women.” National Library of Medicine, Eur J Nutr, 12 Mar. 2018, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29532164.
  • Thornley, Simon, et al. “NCBI – Per Capita Sugar Consumption Is Associated with Severe Childhood Asthma: An Ecological Study of 53 Countries.” National Library of Medicine, Prim Care Respir J, Mar. 2011, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21190010.
  • Bartley, Jim, and Susan Read McGlashan. “NCBI – Does Milk Increase Mucus Production?” National Library of Medicine, Med Hypotheses, Apr. 2010, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19932941.
  • DeChristopher, L. R., et al. “NCBI – The Link between Soda Intake and Asthma: Science Points to the High-Fructose Corn Syrup, Not the Preservatives: A Commentary.” National Library of Medicine, Nov. 2016, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5133361.
  • Frosh, Adam, et al. “NCBI – Effect of a Dairy Diet on Nasopharyngeal Mucus Secretion.” National Library of Medicine, Jan. 2019, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30178886.
  • Palmo, Emanuela di, et al. “NCBI – Asthma and Food Allergy: Which Risks?” Natioinal Library of Medicine, Sept. 2019, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6780261.

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Medical Disclaimer: The information provided by Respiratory Therapy Zone is for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please consult with a physician with any questions that you may have regarding a medical condition.