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Anti-Mucus Diet: How to Know What to Eat and What to Avoid

28 Mar 2017
| Under Diet and Nutrition, Lifestyle, Lung Disease, Tips | Posted by | 16 Comments
Anti-Mucus Diet: How to Know What to Eat and What to Avoid

People living with chronic lung diseases often have trouble with increased mucus production. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and chronic bronchitis tend to cause more increased mucus production than other types of chronic lung diseases. Otherwise known as phlegm or sputum, mucus traps debris and other organisms, so they can be cleared from the lungs when you cough. While mucus is naturally occurring and helps protect your respiratory system, too much mucus can cause throat discomfort, nasal congestion and difficulty breathing. Here are some tips for an anti-mucus diet, how to know what to eat and what to avoid.

What Causes Increased Mucus?

Mucus is thick and slippery and is secreted by glands and cells in your body. Overproduction, hypersecretion and decreased clearance of phlegm makes mucus accumulate in the lungs. Commonly, your body will tell your cells to produce and secrete mucus as a result of  environmental irritants. If you smoke, the cilia or tiny hair-like structures in your lungs become damaged, and cilia are responsible for clearing mucus. Damaged cilia are unable to clear mucus, so the mucus remains stuck in your airways.

What Do I Need to Avoid on an Anti-Mucus Diet?

Anti-Mucus Diet: How to Know What to Eat and What to Avoid

Everyone is different, and what worsens mucus production for one person may not worsen it for others. However, there are certain foods that may worsen mucus production and thickness. Typically, foods cause increased mucus production if you are allergic or intolerant to them. Allergies can cause your body to produce more mucus than normal, and people living with chronic conditions may have a higher likelihood of developing allergies to certain foods.

Common Food Allergies Include:

  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Milk
  • Tree nuts
  • Peanuts
  • Shellfish
  • Wheat
  • Soy

If eating a certain food seems to worsen your mucus production, tell your doctor and ask about allergy testing.

Foods Naturally Containing Histamine:

When you have an allergic response, your body releases histamine. Interestingly, certain foods naturally contain some histamine or tend to increase histamine production. Having increased histamine levels can cause your body to make more mucus. For example, bananas, strawberries, pineapple, papaya, eggs and chocolate may increase histamine levels.

It’s important to keep in mind that some foods may cause increased mucus for some people and not for others. Always talk with your doctor before changing your diet.

Here are some common foods that naturally contain histamine:

  • Process Meats (hot dogs, bacon, ham and cold cuts)
  • Vinegar
  • Dried Fruits
  • Avocados
  • Tomatoes
  • Spinach
  • Mushrooms
  • Eggplant
  • Cheeses, Yogurt, Sour Cream, Buttermilk
  • Smoked Fish, Sardines, Anchovies
  • Alcoholic Beverages, Cider

What Can I Eat on an Anti-Mucus Diet?

Anti-Mucus Diet: How to Know What to Eat and What to Avoid

Everyone is different, and what works for one person may not work for you. Before changing to an anti-mucus diet, be sure to talk with your doctor. Look for foods that may reduce mucus production. Fruits and vegetables are rich in antioxidants. In fact, antioxidants help support your body’s ability to stay healthy and to heal if you become ill. Vitamin C, for example, has anti-inflammatory properties and may help open the airways and reduce wheezing.

Fruits and Vegetables to Try:

  • Berries
  • Citrus Fruits
  • Cantaloupe
  • Kiwi
  • Tomatoes
  • Leafy Greens
  • Bell Peppers
  • Broccoli
  • Squash

Some of the foods listed above may cause increased gas and bloating, such as broccoli. Gas and bloating can put pressure on the lungs, making it difficult to breathe. If certain foods cause more gas, your doctor may advise you to limit how much of those foods you eat.

Think Anti-Inflammatory for Anti-Mucus

Olive oil is a good source of unsaturated fat, and it contains oleocanthal, which may produce effects similar to anti-inflammatory medications. Consider cooking with olive oil instead of butter or margarine.

Warm fluids help break-up mucus, flush your system of toxins and promote hydration. Soups and teas aren’t just for when you have a cold or illness. Clear broth soups, meaning soups without cream or dairy, and warm decaffeinated tea can loosen mucus and provide added hydration.

Certain fish, seeds, nuts and more contain essential fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids can help reduce inflammation and phlegm. Sources of omega-3s include:

  • Mackerel
  • Salmon
  • Herring
  • Tuna
  • Lake Trout
  • Walnuts
  • Flaxseeds
  • Pumpkin Seeds

Other Foods for an Anti-Mucus Diet Include:

Even some foods you might not have thought to try have been found to reduce mucus production. Try adding these foods to your meals for added taste and extra nutrients:

  • Garlic
  • Celery
  • Pickles
  • Onions
  • Lemons
  • Watercress
  • Parsley

Eating Your Best Lung-Healthy Diet

As we mentioned above, everyone is unique, has varying food sensitivities, has a range of dietary needs and is affected differently by the foods eaten. What works for one person may not work for another. With that in mind, always discuss changes to your diet with your doctor before you try something new. In combination with the guidelines above, we hope you enjoy finding the best anti-mucus diet for you.

Often, people use healthy diet and eating habits along with exercise and staying on a treatment plan to help them breathe better. Treatments can vary from medications to oxygen therapy to stem cell treatment. If you or a loved one has COPD, emphysema, chronic bronchitis or another chronic lung disease and would like to learn more about stem cell treatment options, contact us at (800) 729-3065.


  1. Phoebe

    2 months ago

    Hi VK,

    The Lung Institute is not affiliated or associated with any other clinics, so we’re not sure if there are any stem cell treatment facilities in India, We recommend talking with your doctor and asking your doctor any questions you have about stem cell treatment facilities in your local area.

    Best Regards,

    The Lung Institute

  2. V K Mahajan

    2 months ago

    Is Stem Cell Treatment Available in India

  3. Phoebe

    2 months ago

    Hi Bette,

    As with any medication, procedure or medical treatment, there is a chance that a treatment may work well for some and may not work for others. However, many of our patients report an improved quality of life after treatment. We’re happy to answer your questions about stem cell therapy, so feel free to give us a call at (855) 313-1149 to speak with someone from our dedicated medical team. We look forward to hearing from you soon.

    Best Regards,

    The Lung Institute

  4. J. jones

    2 months ago


  5. bette lindsy

    2 months ago

    i am curious why does it work for some and not all with copd

  6. Phoebe

    2 months ago

    Hi Lizz,

    We strive to answer everyone’s comments and questions as timely and thoroughly as possible–both negative and positive. We’re happy to answer people’s questions and to help people with chronic lung diseases breathe easier.

    Best Regards,

    The Lung Institute

  7. lizz

    2 months ago

    I applaud your open and honest approach given the fact that you published the above negative comments , refreshing!

  8. Phoebe

    3 months ago

    Hi Marlene,

    We have let our medical team know of your questions, and our medical team will be calling you today to discuss your questions further. In the meantime, feel free to contact us at (855) 313-1149.

    Best Regards,

    The Lung Institute

  9. Phoebe

    3 months ago

    Hi Robert,

    Thanks for sharing your good news with us. We’re so glad to hear that you’re feeling better and seeing improvements after treatment. We encourage you to give your patient coordinator a call to share your good news as well. Keep us posted about your progress, and feel free to give us a call at (855) 313-1149. We wish you the best.

    Kind Regards,

    The Lung Institute

  10. Marlene

    3 months ago

    I also had your stem cell tReatmenT, 6 months ago. I am not bReathing any different. I totally believe in stem cell therApy, they are usIng it for ms patients and quadtApilic patients and it is woRking. Why did it not work for those of us that have tried it? Dr. coleman: do we have to have many treatments? More frequent? Does it have to do with are blood count? Is it because of the stage of copd we are in? These are questions, i would like anSwered. I had a couple of friends that were interested in this treatment, but since I have not improveD, they will not go fOr treaTment. Please answer my questions…

  11. Robert L Shaw

    3 months ago

    Stem cell treatment das definately worked for me.
    My need for oxygen has been greatly reduced
    I am able to be much more active than before
    I still have shortness of breath from time to time but
    my blood oxygen levels have greatly increased.
    At rest low 90’s & with activity the oxy level increasesto mid to upper 90’s
    this tells me that my lungs now have the ability to work more normal than before.
    Blood oxy levels decreased before with activity.!!!!!!!!!!!!

  12. Phoebe

    3 months ago

    Dear James,

    First and foremost, we’re sorry to hear that you haven’t seen the results your were hoping to see after your treatment. We appreciate your feedback, and encourage you to call your patient coordinator to discuss your concerns further. Feel free call (855) 313-1149, and we can put you into contact with your patient coordinator. We wish you the best.

    Kind Regards,

    The Lung Institute

  13. James Darrah

    3 months ago

    I had ur stem cell treatment some 18 months ago. If it has done me any good, I’m not really sure! My Dr. said I should have given him the money instead of u!
    i wish I’d done more RESEARCH. I asked Mayo if they did this & they said it WASN’T
    approved so no go! I’m still on OXYGEN 24/7 2 liters @rest, full bore when I walk. U asked 4 my COMMENT!

  14. Arlene

    3 months ago

    Staying gluten free helps me reduce production of MucUs.

  15. Matt

    5 months ago

    Hello Don,
    Thank you for your post. If you are interested in learning more about stem cell therapy or the Lung Institute, please give us a call at (855) 313-1149. That way our staff can learn more about you and your situation to give you the best information possible. Thanks again and have a great day.

  16. Don

    5 months ago

    I’d like to know more.

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* All treatments performed at Lung Institute utilize autologous stem cells, meaning those derived from a patient's own body. No fetal or embryonic stem cells are utilized in Lung Institute's procedures. Lung Institute aims to improve patients' quality of life and help them breathe easier through the use of autologous stem cell therapy. To learn more about how stem cells work for lung disease, click here.

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