The conundrum over whether spicy foods are good or bad for singing is confusing. Having a clear throat and reducing phlegm is important for every singer – especially before hitting the stage. So, should singers avoid spicy food altogether or are there certain spices which are good for your voice?
Spicy foods are associated with grease which can irritate the throat and increase phlegm. But, milder spices are great in moderation and can help alleviate a cold, reduce breathing problems, clear congestion and help with voice recovery.
So are peppers and spices amongst the foods recommenced for singers? Find out what you should eat and drink before singing and which spicy foods to avoid below.
Why spicy foods are bad for singers
Spicy foods are bad for singers because they’re often combined with oil which can add grease to your throat and can cause phlegm. This massively affects your tone, and there’s then a huge temptation to clear your throat. Doing so involves your vocal cords suddenly smacking together which can lead to vocal fatigue. If you need to clear your throat after eating spicy foods, avoid this temptation and drink warm tea with lemon juice to prevent any vocal damage. Water is also a great way to soothe any irritation.
Spicy foods from a takeaway contain heaps of salt. This dehydrates the voice by absorbing any moisture which makes it difficult to sing. With a dry mouth, your vocal cords aren’t lubricated which limits their flexibility.
Avoid eating spicy meals on performance days to avoid having to clear your throat whilst performing. It’s not necessary to eliminate spicy foods completely from your diet, as when eaten in moderation and prepared by yourself, they can be great for your health and voice.
Why spicy foods are good for singers
We’ve established that eating spicy foods can irritate your voice directly. However, they can boost your immune system, improve your breathing, clear sinuses from a stuffy cold and soothe a sore throat.
Turmeric contains curcumin which is an ingredient used to treat respiratory problems. This spice is a powerful antioxidant which can help reduce airway inflammation.
Even if curcumin isn’t present in turmeric, turmeric on its own is just as beneficial for your health. It can prevent infection and protect the lungs from exhaust fumes, dust, viruses, and cigarette smoke.
Although garlic might not have a spice which scares you, it’s still in the spicy-food family. Garlic can help to prevent the common cold, and is often found in supplements for colds. Eating garlic when you have a cold can help to speed up your recovery time. Eating 1-2 garlic cloves a day when you first feel the symptoms can significantly help to eliminate a sore throat and congested sinuses.
This is also a primary ingredient in home remedies along with chili peppers, onions and horseradish. Mix together with ½ tsp hot sauce and water. Drink to help with congestion.
Cayenne pepper has many health benefits – including relieving a stuffy nose and lowering your body temperature if you experience sweats. It can also decrease mucous when you consume it regularly.
This spice can also help with voice recovery if your throat feels hoarse or you’ve overworked your vocal cords recently. Add ¼ tsp of cayenne pepper to warm water and mix together. Gargle this mixture for 10 seconds and spit out, repeating a few times if necessary. If your voice doesn’t seem back to normal, repeat a few hours later. Be careful not to swallow this as it’s burn your lips.
As cayenne pepper is a light spice, it doesn’t cause any major issues when transferring through different registers because this spice doesn’t irritate the vocal cords.
What do you eat before a performance? Are there certain foods that you avoid? Let us know in the comments below.