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Mucus-producing foods

Published:Thursday | January 12, 2012 | 12:00 AM

Heather Little-White, PhD, Contributor

Very often we hear about mucus, but we are not so sure what it is and how it affects the body. Mucus is a normal body secretion. All mucosa membranes continually secrete mucus as a means of keeping the surfaces moist and lubricated. As you eat any food or drink (even water), it increases the level of healthy, lubricating mucus at the back of the mouth.

Not all mucus is bad, as healthy mucus is clear and slippery. Unhealthy mucus, formed as a reaction to toxicity, is cloudy, thick and sticky. Unhealthy mucus is associated with several health conditions including sinusitis and other respiratory illnesses and cancers.

The rating of foods according to mucoid plaque-forming activity is something you can judge for yourself by inspecting your stool for the amount of mucus passed out in it. Mucus-forming foods are also acid-forming foods. As you plan your daily diet, you should reduce the foods that form mucus. You should eat food that clears your body, such as fresh fruit and vegetables.

Try to avoid:

Dairy products from cow's milk, whether pasteurised or raw, are the most mucus forming of all foods. This includes milk, skim milk, butter, cheese, cottage cheese, cream, yoghurt, ghee and whey. Dairy products are also highly allergenic and can lead to intestinal distress and diarrhoea, as well as stool that contains thick mucous. Goat's milk, however, is substantially less mucus forming than cow's milk.

Sugars and chocolate

Flesh foods - meat, fish, fowl and eggs are almost as mucus forming as dairy products. They usually affect the respiratory system less, but the total amount of mucus is still quite high.

You may be wondering, what are your options for eating? Do you have to resort to plant-based diets? Some plant foods are highly mucus forming while others do not form mucus.

Plant foods

Gluten: Foods that contain gluten, such as anything with rye, wheat, oats or barley, are mucus-producing foods. Gluten is a 'glue-like' substance that holds molecules together and requires the production of extra stomach acid for digestion. Gluten, in the form of flour, is also found in soups, sauces and even injected into some meats. Other foods containing gluten are:

  • Breads and baked goods
  • Pasta
  • Cereals.

Soy beans are the most mucus forming of all plant foods. Their mucous-forming activity is similar to that of meat, fish and eggs, and comes close to that of dairy products.

Other legumes: The mucus-forming activity of the other legumes is considerable.

Grains: Since whole grains are often eaten to assure bowel regularity, you may feel that grains are non-mucus forming, but this is not the case.

Oily seeds

Honey will vary in mucus-forming activity depending on the plant it is derived from. Most honeys have little or no mucus-forming activity. Eucalyptus honey is one that is to be noted for its relatively high mucus-forming activity.

Food supplements like protein powders, except for 100 per cent pure yeast and spirulina plankton, are highly mucus forming because of their inclusion of soy, milk, egg or meat derivatives. Many popular 'yeast' powders are highly mucus forming because they contain up to 50 per cent whey. Tableted vitamins, minerals, digestive enzymes, etc, may also possess a degree of mucus-forming activity.

Nature's purest foods

Vegetables and fruits are virtually free of any mucus-forming activity. Exceptions are gas-ripened bananas and sulphured fruit, which are mucus forming because of the man-made processes to ripen them. Some dried fruit use the same man-made processes.

Herbal foods will often alter the mucoid content of one's stool. There are herbs that will decrease the mucoid present in one's stools.