Mucus is a thick, viscous substance that lines the respiratory tract and plays a crucial role in protecting our lungs and digestive system.
However, excessive mucus production can lead to uncomfortable symptoms and may signal an underlying health issue.
One often overlooked factor that contributes to increased mucus production is the foods we eat in our diet. The wrong types of foods can trigger our body to produce more mucus than necessary, resulting in health issues and unwanted symptoms.
In this article, we’ll look at the most common foods that cause mucus and phlegm buildup, providing you with the knowledge to make informed dietary choices to avoid mucus-causing foods.
Foods that Cause Mucus
Uncovering the foods that trigger mucus production is essential for managing symptoms and maintaining a healthy respiratory system. The most common foods that cause mucus include the following:
- Processed meat
- Fast food
Keep reading to learn about the specific foods that trigger mucus production and the science behind their effects on our bodies.
Equipped with this knowledge, you’ll be able to make informed dietary choices and better manage mucus-related symptoms.
Why Do I Get Phlegm After Eating?
After eating, some people experience increased phlegm due to gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), where stomach acid flows back into the esophagus. This can irritate the throat and trigger mucus production.
Additionally, certain foods, like dairy or spicy items, may promote mucus or thicken saliva.
Lastly, post-nasal drip from allergies can also contribute to the sensation of phlegm. If persistent, consulting a doctor is advised.
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.
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 demostrated 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 healthy participants. This suggests that sugar may play a role in exacerbating asthma symptoms and making the condition worse.
Substitute sugar for stevia, a delicious, zero-calorie alternative with natural properties.
Milk is a well-known source of calcium and other beneficial nutrients. However, milk and other dairy products have also been shown to cause mucus.
A study 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. This is well-documented. However, many are surprised to hear that fast foods increases 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, which only make matters worse.
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 every extra serving of soda that you drink per week increases your risk of asthma by 21%. To make matters worse, most people drink soda while washing down that greasy (but often delicious) fast food meal.
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.
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.
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.
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.
How to Reduce Mucus and Phlegm After Eating
Reducing mucus and phlegm after eating can be accomplished through a combination of dietary and lifestyle changes. Some strategies to consider include:
- Mindful food choices
- Eat smaller, more frequent meals
- Chew food thoroughly
- Avoid lying down immediately after eating
- Practice good food hygiene
- Consider digestive enzymes
Mindful Food Choices
One of the most effective ways to reduce mucus and phlegm after eating is by paying close attention to the foods you consume.
As mentioned earlier, certain foods can trigger mucus production, so avoiding or minimizing your intake of these foods can make a significant difference.
Instead, opt for mucus-killing foods that promote overall health and well-being.
Drinking water before, during, and after meals can help thin mucus and prevent it from becoming thick and sticky.
Staying hydrated throughout the day can also aid in proper digestion and make it easier for the body to eliminate excess mucus.
Eat Smaller, More Frequent Meals
Consuming smaller meals more frequently throughout the day can help alleviate post-meal mucus buildup.
Larger meals can strain the digestive system and contribute to mucus production, while smaller meals are easier to digest and can help maintain stable mucus levels.
Chew Food Thoroughly
Taking the time to chew your food thoroughly can make digestion easier and help reduce mucus production.
Chewing food well breaks it down into smaller pieces, which can be more easily digested and absorbed by the body, minimizing the chances of mucus buildup.
Avoid Lying Down Immediately After Eating
Give your body time to digest food properly by staying upright for at least 30 minutes after eating. Lying down too soon after a meal can contribute to indigestion and increased mucus production.
Practice Good Food Hygiene
Ensure that the food you consume is clean and properly cooked, as foodborne pathogens can lead to infections that trigger mucus production.
Thoroughly wash fruits and vegetables, cook meats to the recommended temperatures, and avoid cross-contamination in the kitchen.
Consider Digestive Enzymes
If you have difficulty digesting certain foods, consider taking digestive enzyme supplements to aid the process. They can help break down food more effectively, reducing the chance of mucus buildup.
Our top recommendation is the Zenwise Probiotic Digestive Enzymes; however, it is always best to consult with your doctor before taking any new supplements.
This supplement provides a potent blend of probiotics and plant-based enzymes designed to support gut health, promote optimal digestion, and enhance nutrient absorption for overall well-being.
By implementing these strategies, you can effectively reduce mucus and phlegm after eating, promoting a more comfortable and healthy eating experience.
Note: Always consult with a healthcare professional if you have ongoing issues with excessive mucus production or if you suspect an underlying health condition.
Best Mucus Reducing Foods
Incorporating mucus-reducing foods into your diet can help alleviate symptoms and promote overall health. Some of the best mucus-reducing foods include:
- Apple cider vinegar
- Citrus fruits
- Leafy greens
- Omega-3 fatty acids
By incorporating these mucus-reducing foods into your diet, you can effectively manage mucus-related symptoms and enjoy better respiratory and digestive health.
Related Article: Best Spices for Reducing Inflammation in the Lungs
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, including dairy products, eggs, corn, and sodium-rich foods.
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.
Do Eggs Cause Mucus?
Yes, eggs contain properties that can trigger the release of histamine, which can result in increased mucus production.
Eggs also contain ovalbumin, which is a protein that causes inflammation, resulting in more mucus being produced. Therefore, eggs should be avoided in individuals with obstructive lung diseases, such as asthma.
Why do I get Mucus After Eating?
Mucus production after eating can result from various factors, including the consumption of mucus-producing foods, allergies, food intolerances, or underlying health conditions such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
Paying attention to your diet and identifying any triggers can help manage mucus production.
What are the Most Common Mucus-Producing Foods?
Common foods that produce mucus include dairy products (milk, cheese, yogurt), refined carbohydrates (white bread, pasta, pastries), sugar, red meat, fried foods, and high-histamine foods like alcohol, aged cheeses, and fermented foods.
What are the Best Mucus-Killing Foods?
Mucus-killing foods include ginger, pineapple, turmeric, garlic, onion, apple cider vinegar, peppers, citrus fruits, leafy greens, and foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, flaxseeds, and walnuts.
What are the Foods That Cause Phlegm?
Foods that cause phlegm after eating are similar to those that cause mucus production. Dairy products, refined carbohydrates, sugar, red meat, fried foods, and high-histamine foods are among the main culprits.
Which Foods Cause Both Mucus and Inflammation?
Dairy products, refined carbohydrates, sugar, red meat, fried foods, and processed foods can trigger both mucus production and inflammation in the body.
Does Dairy Cause Mucus?
Yes, dairy products, such as milk, cheese, and yogurt, are known to increase mucus production for many people. However, individual reactions can vary, and some people might not experience any increase in mucus after consuming dairy.
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.
Understanding the connection between diet and mucus production is vital for those looking to alleviate symptoms and achieve a healthier lifestyle.
By avoiding or reducing the consumption of common mucus-causing foods such as dairy products, refined carbohydrates, and certain high-histamine foods, individuals can actively take control of their mucus production and maintain a better quality of life.
While not all mucus is bad, becoming more mindful of our food choices and observing how our bodies respond can make a significant difference in our overall well-being.
Keep in mind that it’s best to speak with a healthcare provider if you’re experiencing problems with mucus, as they can help determine the root cause and offer treatment options for your individual condition.
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.
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