Similar to bacteria in the gut, some mucus is beneficial to have in the body. Mucus protects certain areas of the body from drying out and can protect against bacteria and viruses. As many of you know, you can have too much of a good thing. Excess mucus in the body can cause regular congestion, throat irritation, and more. Knowing which foods can cleanse mucus from the body can help you feel like your best self.
What Is Mucus?
Some people are disgusted by the words for mucus. Phlegm, snot, boogers, and other descriptions create an aversion to this natural bodily product. It’s a protective substance that the mouth, sinuses, throat, lungs, stomach, and intestines excrete. The main constituent of mucus is mucin, which can work as a selective barrier, viscous material, or lubricant. Regular mucin structure and production helps protect surfaces all over the body. Abnormal mucus production can result from various health conditions, including pneumonia, COPD, lung diseases, smoking, allergies, or even cystic fibrosis. Additionally, mucus can accumulate as a result of eating unhealthy or mucus-producing foods.
While there are effective natural remedies that can hep keep mucus production under control, your diet is often the best plan of attack. This can come in the form of eliminating certain foods, or consuming more foods that get rid of mucus. Whether you’re prone to excess phlegm or fighting a cold, the following foods can help cleanse mucus from your system.
Garlic, among other members of the allium family, is a powerful expectorant, helping to break up mucus build-up. A 2017 review found that allium vegetables, including garlic, onions, shallots, and leeks, have anti-inflammatory properties. Chronic inflammation is a primary culprit of excess mucus in the body, so lowering inflammation may reduce mucus. Garlic, specifically, exhibits antiviral, anti-fungal, and antibacterial properties that may fight infections in the respiratory glands. Since infected respiratory glands produce more mucus, eating more garlic may reduce the amount you have in the body.
Cardamom is an Indian spice that exhibits intense flavor. The seeds, oils, and extracts of cardamom are thought to have impressive medicinal benefits. One such benefit is that cardamom helps reduce mucus build-up in the body. Cardamom is rich in cineole, which is an active ingredient that breaks down mucus. Excess mucus can partially block respiratory passages, making it dangerous for people with asthma, pneumonia, or respiratory conditions. Lastly, cardamom can liquify mucus in heavier foods, which can be hard for the body to digest.
In addition to improving digestive health, pineapple may help eliminate mucus from the body. Fresh pineapple contains bromelain, an important enzyme with strong anti-inflammatory properties that aid respiratory function. In fact, pineapple’s anti-inflammatory nature has helped relieve symptoms of asthma and allergies. Fresh pineapple juice also exhibits mucolytic properties, which work to break up mucus and expel it from the body.
Drinking ginger tea when you have a cold is one of the best things you can do, as it soothes the throat and promotes decongestion. Several studies found that ginger is a natural decongestant and antihistamine. Plus, it’s rich in antiviral and antibacterial properties, which can ease chest congestion by drying out excess mucus and promoting its removal. Ginger holds specific enzymatic benefits the produce an anti-inflammatory effect in the body. Ginger actually alerts the immune system that it is safe and mucus production is not necessary. You can add fresh ginger root to smoothies, but the best way to consume it is by drinking homemade ginger tea.
Cayenne pepper is rich in the active compound capsaicin, which helps to naturally thin mucus. Capsaicin is also what gives cayenne the potent spice. If you experience a runny nose after eating spicy foods like cayenne, it’s because it has mucus-thinning properties. Cayenne pepper is also an excellent source of vitamin C, which works to enhance immune function. If the body is fighting a virus or infection, optimizing the immune system can help reduce the severity and duration of symptoms. If you have acid reflux, you may want to avoid spicy foods like cayenne, because they may actually worsen phlegm-related issues.