Some mucus is necessary to keep your body healthy. Mucus, or phlegm, is a thick, slippery substance secreted by glands and cells in your body. It’s important to your immune system because it traps microorganisms, dirt and other particles that shouldn’t be in your airway. But you can have too much of a good thing — excessive phlegm can cause congestion, throat irritation and more. Knowing what foods fight mucus (and what foods to avoid) is key to reducing phlegm and feeling better. Here is a list of both, and ways to get rid of phlegm naturally.
Foods that Help
- Clear liquids – Water, tea and other hydrating drinks can help break up mucus congestion in your throat and lungs and prevent dehydration. In addition to getting rid of mucus in the body, warm fluids can also soothe an irritated throat, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
- Broth based soups – Turns out there’s something to drinking a bowl of hot chicken soup when you have a cold: It’s one of the best foods to get rid of mucus. Broths and soups are rich in nutrients and can help loosen up phlegm and reduce congestion, according to the Cleveland Clinic. It’s also a food that may help when you have a cough. Soups are also hydrating, which can help your body better clear phlegm from your system, according to the Mayo Clinic.
- Omega-3 fatty acids – Omega-3 fatty acids are unsaturated fats that can help regulate the amount of inflammation in your body (and the extra mucus that can come with it), according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
- Alliums – Alliums are a class of vegetables that include shallots, leeks, garlic and onions. A February 2017 review in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine notes they have anti-inflammatory properties, which could help quell inflammation that contributes to excessive mucus.
- Fiber rich foods – Eating fiber-rich foods like fruits, veggies, legumes and whole grains may help keep your phlegm levels healthy. Not eating enough fiber can reduce your intestinal mucus, which can leave you susceptible to digestive issues and illness.
- Capsaicin – the compound that brings the heat in chili peppers, can help relieve symptoms like a stuffy or runny nose.