10 Foods for Sinus Health & 10 Ways to Relieve Infection
The warm, dark environment of the sinuses create the optimal space for infections; learn how to combat and relieve sinus infection and improve your 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 also 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 removing or destroying the captured bacteria, spores, and cysts before they can begin growing. Problems arise when our mucus membranes are damaged or the mucus becomes too thick to move freely. When this happens, infections can explode to life in the pockets of your sinuses.
Sinusitis is painful and debilitating. Headaches, congestion, sneezing, coughing, pain, pressure, burning, 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 when they happen to you.
Plenty of fresh, clean, filtered water is essential to the health of our sinuses. The body relies heavily on water to perform every function. When we don’t get enough, the body robs water from nonessential functions to keep the essential ones going. This can quickly lead to thick mucus that doesn’t flow smoothly, clogs the sinuses, and encourages bacterial growth.
Pineapple is rich in antioxidants which protect the delicate mucus membranes from damage. The enzymes in pineapple also break down the junk that builds up in sinuses and reduce inflammation.
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. Just use it wisely and in moderation.
This spicy root acts much the same way as chili peppers, reducing inflammation and increasing mucus production. It also has antibiotic properties.
Garlic and its relative, the onion, 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.
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.
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.
This spice contains antioxidants, natural antihistamines, and anti-inflammatories that speed healing, decrease pain, and reduce swelling and congestion throughout the body. It eases allergies, sinus pain, nausea, and discomfort.
Turmeric is related to ginger and carries many of the same benefits. It is commonly found in curry. Combine it with a little heat to really clear and heal the sinuses at the same time.
Coconut oil is very good at reducing inflammation and also killing many bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Try oil pulling with a spoonful of coconut oil and you’ll notice your sinuses clear up too.
Food alone may not be enough. Try these easy activities to stay decongested and breathing fine even when sinus infections are at their worst.
You should be avoiding dairy if you’re prone to sinus infections as dairy can thicken mucus and promote microbial growth.
Exercise improves circulation, moves lymph fluid, aids the immune system, and increases mucus production. Rebounding, jump rope, and jumping jacks use gravity to help clear sinuses, but any movement is better than nothing.
Inhaling steam can loosen mucus, break up buildups, and gently clear sinuses. You can use a bowl of hot water, steam machines, or even a hot shower to hydrate away some of the pain.
Warm herbal teas include some steam inhalation while the warm liquid carries away mucus. Peppermint, ginger, chamomile, licorice, and holy basil teas are some of the best for your sinuses and throat during a bout of sinusitis.
Many essential oils can stimulate mucus membranes and reduce congestion. A few drops in hot water can improve the effectiveness of steam inhalation. Use them in a hot bath or shower too. Eucalyptus, rosemary, peppermint, tea tree oil, lemon, thyme, and pine are some of the best ones for your sinuses.
Neti pots help hydrate and clean out sinus cavities while stimulating the production of more mucus. Make sure you use clean, distilled water and keep your neti pot clean and disinfected between uses.
Oil pulling, especially with coconut oil, is a great way to kill bacteria in your mouth and throat while reducing inflammation in your sinuses. Simply swish around a spoonful of it for five to ten minutes and spit it out.
Saline Nasal Spray
A simple saline solution is often enough to break up thick mucus and get sinuses clear, open, and moving again.
A warm towel can be placed over the face to increase circulation to the sinuses and gently loosen mucus.
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, yoga, massage, and mind over body techniques to increase the natural healing properties within yourself.
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.