Regardless of the cause of sinus congestion, foods can make a difference. If you have the common cold, a sinus infection, or allergies, avoiding foods that negatively affect our immune system and that are mucous producing can help alleviate symptoms. There are also food groups that can help alleviate sinus congestion by enhancing our immune response and thinning mucous. Laboratory testing is also available to determine food sensitivities and environmental allergies, additional common causes for sinus congestion.
Food groups to eliminate to reduce sinus congestion:
Dairy: The most important food group to eliminate is dairy. Dairy causes mucous production in general and encourages an environment in which bacteria thrive. Most people with chronic sinus and ear infections experience relief when they avoid dairy.
Gluten: Gluten is mucous producing and is a common trigger, along side dairy, for chronic sinus and ear infections.
Sugar: Sugar decreases the function of our immune system. If we have sinus congestion, sugar will feed any organism contributing to our symptoms. It decreases certain vitamins and minerals necessary for our immune system to function appropriately. All of these effects make symptoms worse and/or last longer.
Foods we are sensitive to: Other food groups can initiate frequent sinus infections as well. Any time we consume a food that we are sensitive to it weakens our immune response and encourages inflammation. This makes us more susceptible to infections (including sinus congestion), fatigue, gastrointestinal issues, and more. It is best to work with a naturopathic doctor, like myself, to determine your food sensitivities so that you have a plan for which foods to eliminate from your lifestyle.
Foods to consume to help reduce sinus congestion
Garlic: A great source of allicin, an antimicrobial substance that helps kill off any viral or bacterial components to sinus congestion.
Onion: sautéed onion in soups or alone breaks up mucous, making it thin and easy to blow out.
Warm chicken soup and broth: great for it’s source of cysteine, an amino acid that breaks up mucous.
Pineapple: a great source of bromelain, an enzyme that is beneficial for its healing properties and anti-inflammatory effects. This is typically recommended after facial surgery, especially sinus procedures.
Spicy foods: Spicy foods help to thin mucous so that you can excrete it. Try not to overdo it though, as these foods in excess can actually increase inflammation and the swelling of the mucous membranes (tissues that line our digestive tract and nasal passages).
Vitamin A rich foods to support the tissues that line your sinuses: leafy green vegetables, yellow and orange vegetables, and tomatoes.
Zinc rich foods to enhance the immune response: pumpkin seeds, red meats, poultry, seafood.
Vitamin C rich foods to enhance immune function and support tissue integrity: citrus fruits, such as oranges, cauliflower, tomatoes, peas, broccoli, peppers, dark green leafy vegetables, guava, papaya, kiwi, and strawberries.
If you have questions about foods that can contribute to or relieve sinus congestion, or how you feel in general, please contact me. I would be happy to create a comprehensive protocol to help you achieve optimal health and feel your best. There are several natural treatment options available to you.