How to Maintain A Healthy Voice – Vocal Health – Naturally

A healthy voice is a necessary tool for many professions. Teachers, singers, actors, lawyers, and even business people rely on their voices to pass on information or entertain. Unfortunately, vocal cords are subject to wear and tear like any other part of your body.

That’s why it’s essential to take care of your voice so it will be strong and healthy for years to come. Many things help maintain a strong voice, such as eating the right foods and making the right lifestyle choices. Here are my suggestions: 

Avoid Spicy Foods

If you want to maintain vocal health with diet, avoid spicy foods such as hot sauce, peppers, or anything else related to capsaicinoids. They have been linked with inflammation, including swelling around vocal cord tissue.

A study on larynx inflammation found that spicy food items can exacerbate laryngitis symptoms, leading to voice hoarseness, voice changes, and vocal fatigue.[1]

Consume Foods Rich in Antioxidants

Antioxidant vitamins and minerals, flavonoids, carotenoids, and other phytochemicals such as lutein and lycopene are crucial for vocal health. They help reduce the influence of stress on your voice box and reduce the wear and tear of vocal cord fibers, which helps prevent them from getting worn out during prolonged use.

Foods richest in antioxidants include:

  • Grapes – rich in two potent phytochemicals, anthocyanin and pro anthocyanin, as well as resveratrol.
  • Green tea – is rich in catechins. These antioxidants help prevent cell damage, especially the catechin epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG).
  • Berries are rich in ellagic acid, a phytochemical that protects against cancer.
  • Nuts – rich in phytochemicals and healthy fats as well as in resveratrol.
  • Orange, green, and red vegetables such as tomatoes, green leafy vegetables, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, and peppers are rich in carotenoids and many vitamins and minerals.
  • Spices with potent antioxidant properties include ginger, cinnamon, saffron, turmeric, and garlic [2]. Garlic has organosulfides, turmeric has curcumins, saffron has carotenoids, and cinnamon has proanthocyanidins, all very potent antioxidants.
  • Chlorella is rich in astaxanthin, the potent antioxidant xanthophyll carotenoid, which is shown to have many health benefits, including vocal health.

However, it is necessary to note that antioxidants found in foods are sacrificial antioxidants, sensitive to oxidation by free radicals in the body. Therefore, consuming foods rich in antioxidants is not enough, and reducing oxidative stress is also crucial. You can do this with the following lifestyle changes: 

Don’t Smoke

Smoking can cause hoarseness due to irritation of throat tissue. Smoking also blocks oxygen flowing into vocal folds. Furthermore, toxins in tobacco have been found to cause vocal cord hemorrhage.

A study on the effects of smoking on the voice showed a relationship between chronic smoking and laryngeal pathology. Smoking can change voice characteristics and cause vocal fatigue. Smokers are also more likely to develop anatomical changes of the larynx, vocal cord disease, and larynx cancer. [3]

Get Plenty of Rest

Vocal health relies on your overall physical health, and fatigue can have a negative effect on your voice. The vocal cords need a break-especially if your job is such that you use them during the day. If you’re not sleeping enough at night, your vocal cords may become swollen and inflamed as they are stressed.

Another way of relieving vocal cord tension and giving them an opportunity for repair is by practicing deep breathing exercises or meditation techniques which can help reduce stress levels.

Drink Plenty of Water 

Water and adequate hydration are necessary for your voice because vocal cords have vocal cord mucosa, which needs moisture for them to work properly. Studies show that hydration plays a crucial role in vocal fold physiology, and dehydration impacts vocal hygiene and the healthy functioning of the vocal cords. [4]

I recommend drinking plenty of clean water. You can read more on the importance of hydration and how you can calculate the amount of hydration you need according to your weight in the chapter on water intake. 

While fluids are essential, you should also avoid drinking alcohol because it can cause swelling of the vocal cords. Vocal cords have difficulty moving when needed to produce sound, and swelling prevents this movement. 

To conclude

It is possible to maintain vocal health with a few dietary and lifestyle changes. If you follow this advice, you will have a strong voice throughout your life.

Feel free to comment below and let me know what you liked best about this article.

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Dr. Galit Goldfarb

References 

  1. Gupta G, Mahajan K. Acute Laryngitis. [Updated 2020 Nov 20]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK534871/
  2. Yashin A., Yashin Y., Xia X., Nemzer B. Antioxidant activity of spices and their impact on human health: A Review. Antioxidants. 2017;6:70. doi: 10.3390/antiox6030070.
  3. Byeon H, Cha S. Evaluating the effects of smoking on the voice and subjective voice problems using a meta-analysis approach. Sci Rep. 2020;10(1):4720. Published 2020 Mar 13. doi:10.1038/s41598-020-61565-3
  4. Sivasankar M, Leydon C. The role of hydration in vocal fold physiology. Curr Opin Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2010;18(3):171-175. doi:10.1097/MOO.0b013e3283393784