Singers! Here’s The Best Foods To Maintain Your Vocal Chords…

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As any music artist will know, the voice is a delicate instrument. Too much strain & it can crack; too little use & it can grow rusty. So as you can imagine, for any performer, the maintenance of their voice should be a top priority! Something that all comes back to 1 thing – diet.

That’s right – as unusual as it sounds, your diet can actually go a long way towards enhance your vocals by working to keep your vocal chords both healthy & functional. A top tip straight off the bat (& one that a lot of music artists swear by) is the avoidance of dairy products, due to the excess mucus it helps to produce.

Instead, a wise bet for singers would be to focus on eating foods that are rich in antioxidants, as well as vitamins A, C & E. All nutrients that work to actively protect your vocal chords. Question is though, how can you get such nutrients? What foods should a singer eat to optimise their vocal ability? Here’s just a few examples… 

How to eat to preserve your vocal chords…

When it comes to protecting your vocal chords, there’s actually a fair few do’s & don’ts. To the point that simply eating wrong could be the reason you fail to hit that high note or enunciate at pace (if you’re a rapper).

So to give you a better idea of what foods a vocalist would be wise to eat, here’s just 4 types of foods that do wonders for your vocal chords…

  • Green leafy vegetables

You knew it was coming.

Arguably one of the best foods for your vocal chords is also the one that makes most millennials gip & screw their face up in disgust. That’s right – green leafy vegetables are packed with nutrients, many of which are essential for strong vocal health. 

The most important antioxidants being vitamins A, C & E. All of which help to condition your vocal chords & also protect them from any damage. In addition, some leafy greens even contain lutein and zeaxanthin. Nutrients that have been shown by science to enhance both the range of your vocals & the quality.

Your best picks as a singer would be kale, spinach, Swiss chard & even a bit of rocket. Regularly sprinkle these into a salad, smoothie or even sandwich them in a burger if you’re not that keen, & after a couple of months you should see your vocals improve.

  • Citrus fruits

Fun fact for you – aside from being great for your immune system (i.e. Covid’s worst nightmare), the vitamins you get from citrus fruits are also an essential for enhancing your vocal quality! Out of all these vitamins, there is of course one that stands above the rest…

Vitamin C.

And that’s because while other aspects of diet can enhance your vocals, vitamin C is what keeps them working. See at the heart of it, Vitamin C is to your vocal chords, what oil is to a car. Without enough of it, you’re going nowhere. And that’s because Vitamin C is not only responsible for helping your vocals repair, but it’s also one of the major factors that can influence your body’s repair time. Meaning that if you strain your voice at a concert or have a partial cold, Vitamin C is what will help your vocals weather the storm. 

Hands down the easiest way to get your daily dosage of Vitamin C would be through citrus fruits – your lemons, grapefruits, blood oranges etc. However, you can also cop this handy vitamin through carrots, butternut squash, milk, peppers & even meat too. Although if you’re on the road & don’t have access to a fresh fruit market, then consider taking some Vitamin C supplements as part of your vocal prep.

These teamed with a cup of hot water, beats a sugary processed snack any day of the week.

  • Toast and Unsalted Crackers

A big part of singing simply comes down to feeling relaxed in the moment. So if you want your vocal chords to perform at their best, it’s also a wise idea to take care of your digestive system too. Most notably your gut.

Do so & while you may not have a direct impact on your vocal chords themselves, it will make the task of singing a whole lot easier. The more settled you are, the more focus you can pin on how you hit each note. Those with IBS will know just how distracting the gut can be. An easy way to soothe your digestive system would be to indulge in a portion of toast or unsalted crackers before taking to the mic. 

Carbs we know, but ones that do wonders for settling your stomach, as well as give you an extra boost of energy. Chew these well & team them with honey or jam, & you’ll be one step closer to being ‘mic-ready’.

  • Honey

C’mon, you really think honey wouldn’t make this list??

Being a natural remedy that’s been sworn by for centuries, a generous serving of honey is arguably one of the easiest (& most pleasant tasting) ways to safeguard your vocal chords. But what makes it especially good for enhancing your vocals is how it acts as an anti-inflammatory, as well as the fact it coats your throat with a natural protective barrier. Useful to know if you’re just about to step out for a long stint on stage.

What’s more, being an antibiotic, honey is a natural way to keep your health up during those late nights & irregular sleeping patterns that come with being on tour. And while you can ingest honey straight out of the jar, we’d recommend teaming it with hot water (aroundabout 90 degrees), as well as perhaps a cheeky slice of lemon. 

As any vocalist will already know, your vocal chords act very much like the paws on your skin. The cold causes them to tighten, while warmth helps them loosen up & become that bit more flexible. Exactly why for singers, honey & warm water should be a major pillar of their diet. No debate.

3 bonus tips to enhance your vocal chords

  • Watch your water intake – You’re not going to get the best out of your vocal chords without enough water. Aside from being a natural lubricant that prevents the throat from drying up (i.e. becoming susceptible to damage), drinking the right amount of water also helps to keep you present & performing at your best. Things can get quite sweaty on-stage, so be sure to take a generous sized water bottle to any performance.
  • Consider cucumber – You can’t afford to miss cucumber because 96% of it is water!! So if you’re not the type who’s fond of carrying around a massive water bottle around, then factoring some cucumber into your diet could help you do just that, all without suffering a lack of hydration. For singers, cucumber is the ideal snack.
  • Don’t dismiss herbal teas – There’s a lot of herbal teas out there. Heck, these days it seems like there’s a tea for every occasion. However the one that really has benefits for singers & does a lot to safeguard your vocal chords is Chamomile. Just like honey, Chamomile is also an anti-inflammatory, as well as a natural relaxant. So in the case your voice is suffering on-stage, combining this with honey could make for the perfect remedy.
David Dom

The author David Dom