Foods for Sinus Health
The sinuses are small air pockets in the skull around the eyes, nose, and forehead that are lined with mucus membranes. They moisten the air we breathe in while catching dust, microbes, and allergens before these can reach the lungs. This warm, moist environment is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria, fungi, and mold, but the body does a good job of moving the captured bacteria, spores, and cysts before they can begin growing. But problems arise when our mucus membranes are damaged or the mucus becomes too thick to move freely and remove the debris they collect.
Sinusitis is painful and debilitating. Headaches, congestion, sneezing, coughing, pain, pressure, burning sensations in the sinus cavities, loss of smell, fever, and fatigue are just a few of the symptoms you can expect with a sinus infection. Sinusitis can also be caused by allergies, nasal polyps, the common cold, immune deficiencies, dental infections, or a deviated septum. There are things you can do and foods to add to your recipes that can help prevent sinus infections or clear them up.
Water – Plenty of fresh, clean, filtered water is essential to the health of our sinuses. The body relies heavily on water to preform every function. When we don’t get enough, it robs water from nonessential functions to keep the essential ones going. This can lead to thick mucus that doesn’t flow smoothly, clogs the sinuses, and encourages bacterial growth.
Pineapple – Pineapple is rich in antioxidants which protect the delicate mucus membranes from damage. The enzymes in pineapple reduce inflammation and also break down the junk that builds up in sinuses.
Peppers – Everyone knows that hot peppers can clear sinuses. Capsaicin, the compound in chili peppers that gives them their heat, eases pain, reduces inflammation, and increases mucus production.
Horseradish – This spicy root acts much the same way as chili peppers, reducing inflammation and increasing mucus production. It also has antibiotic properties.
Garlic – Garlic and onions stimulate many of the same pathways as peppers to reduce inflammation and pain. Allicin, a sulfur compound created when garlic is crushed or cut, is antibacterial, antifungal, and even kills some viruses too.
Probiotics – The friendly bacteria in our bodies help keep less helpful bacteria and fungi infections at bay. Fermented foods contain probiotics. Vegan options include sauerkraut, kimchi, pickles, coconut yogurt, tempeh, miso, and kombucha.
Antioxidant-Rich Foods – Oxidation damage can contribute to chronic sinusitis. Antioxidants protect the mucus membranes from free radical damage. Look for bright, colorful fruits and vegetables, like citrus, kiwi, spinach, berries, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, and other similarly vibrant foods.
Ginger – This spice also contains antioxidants and anti-inflammatories that speed healing, decrease pain, and reduce swelling and congestion.
You should avoid dairy if you are prone to sinus infections as it can thicken mucus and promote microbial growth. There are also many activities that can prevent or speed healing for the sinuses.
Exercise – Exercise improves circulation, moves lymph fluid, aids the immune system, and increases mucus production.
Steam – Inhaling steam can loosen mucus, break up buildups, and gently clear sinuses.
Essential Oils – Many essential oils can stimulate mucus membranes and reduce congestion. A few drops in hot water can improve the effectiveness of steam inhalation.
Neti Pots – Neti pots help hydrate and clean out sinus cavities while stimulating the production of more mucus.
Saline Nasal Spray – A simple saline solution is often enough to break up thick mucus and get sinuses clear, open, and moving again.
Warm Compress – A warm towel can be placed over the face to increase circulation to the sinuses and gently loosen mucus.
Stress Relief – Stress promotes sinus problems by creating oxidative compounds and limiting many of the body’s regular functions. Find ways to alleviate and release stress from your life. Use meditation, breathing exercises, and mind over body techniques to increase the healing properties of your body.
Learn more about Charlie Pulsipher
About Charlie Pulsipher
Charlie Pulsipher is a health and fitness enthusiast, writer, author, and neighborhood do-gooder. He shifted his education from Biochemistry to English Literature in an attempt to avoid math, but never stopped loving the natural world of the miniscule. He has published several fantasy and science fiction novels and helped others publish more down to earth books about natural foods. He can’t stop writing. He is probably happily tapping away on some keyboard even now.