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Voice & Diet

Voice & Diet

Have you ever heard about “Vocal Hygiene”? It is defined as the feeding of the voice, the care we give to our voice and the things we do to keep the voice healthy.
While plenty of foods have a harmful effect on our voice, there are plenty of others that help our vocal cords.

What foods are good for the voice?

It is very important to keep the vocal folds moist through good hydration. The key of providing moisture to the vocal folds is drinking plenty of water. When the body is well-hydrated, the vocal folds move best and they may be less likely to get hurt from voice use when they are well-hydrated. Also, when well-hydrated, the mucus that covers the vocal folds become thin and slippery, and they move against each other easily and vibrate smoothly.

1. Drink at least 8 cups of water per day.

2. Flavor your water with fruit or with sugar-free powdered drink mixes.

3. Drink licorice tea, herbal tea or any decaffeinated hot beverage, preferably laced with honey.

4. Get foods which relatively have high water content, such as: cucumbers, melon, grapes, and jellies…

5. Also, get plenty of rest, exercise, and eat well!

What foods are bad for the voice?

1. Alcohol and All Caffeinated Beverages: including teas, coffee and certain sodas are harmful for the voice. Your throat muscles will become dehydrated since caffeine is a natural diuretic and this will cause muscle limitation. Tight muscles make it difficult and dangerous to produce a lovely and a smooth sound with your voice.

2. Spicy Foods: can irritate your throat. Mexican, Chinese, Thai or other typically spicy cuisines must be avoided before a singing performance. Moreover, these foods can cause acid reflux, which may lead to even greater irritation of the esophagus.

3. Big Meals: can increase the risk of acid reflux. Having smaller meals, which are less likely to stimulate the reflux, is the right thing to do. Instead of taking one large meal, take healthy snacks throughout the day.

4. Dairy Products: are not to be consumed right before a performance, or on a regular basis. In general, milk and milk products, including yogurt, cheese, ice cream, milk and butter, increase phlegm production in your throat. The extra mucous makes it difficult to protect your throat or produce a clear tone, since you’ll be spending most of your time either clearing your throat or worrying that you will have to.

5. Lozenges: containing menthol, oil of eucalyptus/citrus or alcohol, can stimulate acid reflux, irritate the throat and dry the mucous membrane of the mouth and throat and they are irritating to the throat. Glycerin and Pectin are the best lozenges for the throat or mouth, since they do not dry them.

6. Smoke: is very irritating to the vocal cords. It not only causes changes in the tissue of the vocal cords but also may cause vocal/throat cancer.

Christelle Bedrossian
Beirut, Lebanon



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Dietitian Christelle Bedrossian