Mucus can be a double-edged sword, as it provides a protective lining for many of the organs and systems of the body. But when our mucus cells become chronically irritated, they start to over-produce mucus. Excessive mucus can congest these organs and present itself as varying health conditions in the body.
When it comes to mucus, the areas we think of most are the respiratory tract and digestive tract (although mucus is present all around the body). In any given day, our mucus cells (called goblet cells) produce mucus to help protect against irritating stimuli like dust, smoke, pollen, and other irritants.
The respiratory tract is the area we most commonly see being inundated by excessive mucus production. When we inhale irritants (i.e., smoke, fragrance, etc.), our goblet cells start producing mucus as a protection mechanism. As a result, we’ll usually cough up a bunch of thick mucus (you see this in smokers, or people who work around lots of chemicals like laboratory technicians). Similarly, when we come down with a cold or flu, our goblet cells produce mucus to protect our delicate tissues from harmful pathogens. The result? Excess mucus production.
But when mucus becomes a chronic condition that never seems to leave, we have to take a deeper look at what we’re eating and what we’re breathing in.
Food, Chemicals and Mucus
When we’re constantly bombarding our bodies with different chemical toxicants and inflammation-causing processed foods, mucus production will be at an all-time high.
But how come, all of a sudden, your lungs started producing so much more mucus, when they used to be able to clear it so efficiently when you were younger? Why do you have so much more mucus in your throat when you never used to have it? As with most things health-related, as you continue to do the same things over and over (such as using chemical toxicants and eating poor food), the effects build up, and the result is a decline in your health.
And as we age, our organs don’t function as well as they used to. The lungs, for example, have a decreased ability to clear mucus from the lungs as we age. Combine that with poor diet, and exposing yourself to chemicals like household cleaners, perfumes, etc., and you’ll have a scenario where you’re constantly dealing with an influx of mucus.
So what foods and chemicals am I talking about?
The foods we eat will directly reflect what’s going on inside our bodies. If we’re constantly eating processed foods high in saturated animal fats, sodium and refined sugar, you can best believe that our bodies will retaliate.
I believe that the answer to most health-related issues we see around the globe is fresh, organic and wild-grown fruits, vegetables and mucus cleansing herbs. The modern day low-quality processed, packaged, lifeless foods and toxic chemicals are quite literally killing us.
Foods you should steer clear of include:
– Red meat
– Deli meat
– Farmed fish
– All corn products (GMO)
– Dairy products (this includes milk, yogurt, cheese, ice cream, butter, ghee, sour cream, cottage cheese, etc.)
– Wheat (bread, pretzels, buns, bagels, pasta, muffins, etc.)
– Deep fried foods
– Foods high in refined sugar (cookies, cakes, pies, pastries)
– Soy products
– Alcoholic beverages
Dairy is particularly mucus-producing, and you can read all about that in my article here.
Chemicals that enter the body come from:
– Pesticides and herbicides (those used on food, and those used for lawn care)
– Laundry detergent
– Dryer sheets
– Fabric softeners
– Dish soap
– Paint (used on your walls, or for arts & crafts)
– Tap water
– Air fresheners
– Cigarette smoke (first, second and third-hand)
– Scented candles
– Lotions and serums
– Household cleaners
– Soap and other toiletries
– Perfumes, colognes and body sprays
– Processed foods
– Mercury from fish
– Gasoline vapors (exposed to more in the city)
– Hair and nail salons
– Bug sprays
– Plastic storage containers
– Mattresses made with toxic materials like PBDE
– Plastic drink bottles
– Non-stick cookware
– Dry-cleaned clothes
Pollen, dust, dander, mold, and smoke also contribute to lung irritation. Have any more to add to the list? Leave it in the comments below!
So, you’re probably wondering how these foods and chemical-based products contribute to excessive, and chronic mucus production. The answer is simple – they’re irritants! In response to irritants, our mucus cells secrete excess mucus. We notice this the most in our lungs (mucus in the throat and lungs, trying to constantly clear the throat) and digestive tract (mucus found in our stool, gastric pain, diarrhea or constipation).
Mucus and Inflammation
Not surprisingly, mucus-forming foods are also acid-forming, and the same foods that are on the mucus-forming list are also acidic and highly inflammatory.
When the body is presented with foreign invaders (like pathogens, bacteria, chemical compounds, processed foods and hidden food allergens), a specific cascade of events is set off. Your immune system goes into over-drive and your white blood cells and cytokines mobilize to protect you. When your body is consistently presented with these substances day in, day out, you get chronic inflammation.
When our bodies are chronically inflamed, the mucus membranes secrete more mucus to protect the delicate membranes lining our organs. The less inflamed you are, the less mucus you’ll be producing.
20 Mucus Cleansing Herbs, Fruit and Vegetables
Here is my master list of some of my favorite mucus cleansing herbs, fruit and vegetables. The herbs can be made into tea, juices, smoothies, or even put on top of salads. Eat the fruit and vegetables as you normally would – remember that when they are in their raw state, they function the best in the body.
1. Burdock root
3. Dandelion root
Fruit & Vegetables
2. Daikon root
4. Leafy greens
8. Citrus fruit (lemon, orange, grapefruit, lime)
Remember, in addition to eating the foods above, you also need to: 1) reduce your consumption of the foods listed earlier, and 2) reduce and/or completely eliminate the chemical-based products from your life. There are natural alternatives to every chemical product mentioned above (often cheaper, too), so there really are no excuses.