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Vocal Health: Consume With Care

By June 10, 2010Vocal Tips


Brett Manning and his associates encourage proper care and maintenance for all parts of the body, mind, and spirit. The voice expresses the music and sound of feelings, desirers that drive the human instrument to consistently perform at its highest potential.

In order for singers to achieve and maintain optimum levels of performence, proper nutrition is vital. If faithfully engaged, Brett’s vocal training methods will make you a better, stronger singer, but poor nutrition will negatively impact your vocal health as well as diminish your overall good health.

Poor nutrition can lead to fatigue, irritability, and stress. That can lead to a yo-yo syndrome of pushing harder through the pain and fatigue and then putting off practice or skipping warm-up’s. Once you get caught up in this, you create imbalances in your system and can develop some bad habits. If not promptly and fully addressed, this will all lead to damaging the voice.

A Few Basics

A few basic nutrition rules to follow include drinking plenty of water at regular intervals throughout the day. Consumption of Calli Tea, various herbal teas, as well as fresh fruit juices can also be helpful. You want to avoid coffee and other drinks that have high caffeine content, such as many soft drinks. The stimulant and diuretic properties will contribute to drying you out. If you can’t kick the caffeine habit, increase your water intake!


Another liquid that will contribute to drying out dries out the throat is alcohol, and some studies indicate that it can contribute to bleeding of the vocal folds. It’s speculated that because alcohol impacts judgment and can numb your pain; it leads to reckless use of the voice. So, never drink alcohol before singing. Think of it as being the same as driving under the influence. You want to reach your destination safely as you and your audience both enjoy the view that’s inspired by your performance!
Sugar and salt should be used in moderation because they will both dry out your throat. But too much sugar and salt will also lead to a number of potential health risks. Always check the labels of any processed foods for sugar and salt contact. In fact, avoid processed foods as much as possible.


Fruits + Veggies + Fiber, Oh My!

For what seems like centuries we’ve heard that we should eat our vegetables and have lots of fresh fruits, even though processed packaged treats are often what we crave. Eating many raw, fresh fruits and vegetables is desirable in part because they tend to contain water and fiber. Multi-grain breads are also a great resource for fiber and are rich in B vitamins.


One of the popular trends in nutrition is what’s referred to as: eating your colors. Vegetables, fruits, and beans are grouped according to five families of color. These are red, green, blue/purple, white and yellow/orange. Remember that diets rich in fruits and vegetables may reduce the risk of some cancers.


Each color grouping will contain similar phytochemicals and antioxidants because of the color of the fruit, vegetable, or bean. The properties for each color group are believed to address specific areas of health, well being, and bodily function.


Blue Like Purple

The blue/purple fruits, vegetables, and beans are being studied for antioxidant and anti-aging benefits. This group is believed to promote a healthy memory as well as a healthy urinary tract.


These blue/purple items include blackberries, blueberries, purple cabbage, black olives, black beans, purple plums, and purple grapes.


The Go Green Scene

Green fruits, vegetables, and beans are said to promote healthy vision along with strong teeth and bones. They’re being studied for additional benefits because they are rich in antioxidants.


These green items include limes, avocadoes, granny smith apples, green grapes, broccoli, artichokes, green beans, lettuce, green lentils, and green split peas.


White Delights

The family of white, tan, and brown fruits, vegetables, and beans are believed to help maintain healthy cholesterol levels and promote heart health. They are being studied for the benefits of the phytochemicals they naturally contain, such as allicin, that’s found in garlic and onions.
These white delights include cauliflower, jicama, bananas, mushrooms, white-fleshed potatoes, navy beans, great white northern beans, lima beans, garlic, and shallots.


Yellow/Orange – No Need For Caution

The family of yellow/orange items is rich in Vitamin C, carotenoids, and bioflavonoids, and promote a healthy immune system. Their properties also encourage a healthy heart and healthy vision.


Among these yellow/orange items are golden delicious apples, tangerines, lemons, oranges, yellow squash, yellow corn, yellow lentils, pumpkins, carrots, and sweet potatoes.


Don’t Dread The Red

Red fruits, vegetables, and beans are believed to encourage heart health, urinary tract health, and promote a sharply functioning memory.
Red food items include red apples, red beans, kidney beans, strawberries, red peppers, radishes, red lentils, and watermelon.


It’s recommended that you consume at least one item from each of the five colors every day. You can make a nutritious fruit salad or a healthy vegetable salad. You can even create a steamed vegetable plate. You can also have a nutritious sandwich on the side that’s held together by multi-grain bread.


In his popular book, Food Rules, Michael Pollan encourages us all to make vegetables and fruits our main course for each meal, with meat serving as a side item. Visit www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org for more information on healthy eating tips.


Your Daily Meds

In addition to your food intake, you should also consider the effect of any over-the-counter or prescription drugs you take. The phrase, you are what you eat, should be revised to say, you are what you imbibe or take in. So let’s take a quick look at a few of the most common drugs for colds and pain relief and their potential impact on your voice.

The Prose Of Antihistamines

Antihistamines are most often prescribed to treat allergies. They are also contained in many over-the-counter, multi-symptom cold medications. Since they cause substantial dryness, antihistamines should rarely be used when singing. But if you have to use them, increase your intake of water.

For those that suffer from chronic allergies, there is a viable alternative to antihistamines. Prescription nasal steroid sprays such as Nasonex® or Flonase® and other similar products often relieve the symptoms of nasal allergies without the drying side effects of antihistamines. But again, as a general rule, make sure you regularly hydrate!

Do not sing if you have a cold that’s affecting the throat unless it’s absolutely necessary. You don’t want to make matters worse by further irritating your throat and delaying the healing process. When you have a cold, your voice needs rest not more fatigue.


When Life Is A Pain

For those suffering with aches and pains from colds, muscle strain, or for anyone seeking pain management after surgery or an injury of some kind, there are a variety of pain relief products that work. But there are potential side effects that need to be taken into consideration. And always consult your doctor if you suffer from chronic pain when you sing or engage in any daily activity. If it hurts, it’s obviously a sign that something isn’t quite right. If it’s hanging on or getting worse, see your doctor.


Aspirin based products, as well as what are called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and Naprosyn (Aleve, Naproxen), should be used cautiously because they can cause bleeding. If you get a repeated high dosage of these you can also experience some bleeding from extensive use of your voice. In some people predisposed to ulcers, use of this family of drugs is discouraged. On a side note, aspirin is the only pain reliever shown to reduce the risk of heart attack. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs should not be taken by pregnant women.


Acetaminophen (Tylenol and Panadol) is recommended for pain relief because it rarely causes stomach irritation. But, studies indicate that high doses of acetaminophen may cause damage to the liver. Reactions have been reported in some users, such as rash and urinary problems, but this is extremely rare.


When Numb Is Dumb

Many people will use localized anesthetics to relief throat pain such as throat sprays and lozenges that soothe but also numb the throat. If you’re resting your voice, and in recovery mode, these localized anesthetics are great. But if you’re numbing the throat in order to sing – bad idea! You may not be able to tell if you’re getting fatigued and hurting yourself when you sing with a cold. You can cause serious damage by stressing or straining your instrument.


Unwanted Changes In The Voice
Let’s say you’ve experienced more than two weeks of hoarseness or any noticeable voice changes that are not wanted. Make an appointment right away to see your doctor. Something very serious may be going on. Even if it’s simply a cold or allergies hanging on, you need to get the situation looked at. Most illnesses that impact the voice will pass within two weeks.


More Words Of Caution

Once again, if you suffer from chronic pain that does not go away; and you find yourself increasing the dosage of any medication to address it, see your doctor. Something is obviously wrong that needs immediate attention. If you take over-the-counter meds, always read and follow the label directions, and NEVER take more that the recommended dosage. It’s also advised that you don’t take over-the-counter drugs for more than 10 days in a row, unless your doctor or local pharmacist gives you the go ahead.


Coughing And Wheezing

Expectorants, often used in combined with cough suppressants, are helpful with relieving a cough. Expectorants help by loosening phlegm and making coughs more productive. The most commonly used expectorant is a called guaifenesin. It’s readily available over-the-counter in name brand and generic forms and is very effective.

It’s contained in Mucinex® , and helps with loosening up thick secretions. It often takes care of issues with frequent throat clearing and postnasal drip. But, in order for these products to be effective, you must increase hydration. So, drink more water!

It’s A Wrap

What you feed yourself to fuel or soothe your body clearly impacts your vocal instrument. Make it a habit to eat your colors. It’s a fun, creative way of getting the full nutritional benefits that come with eating your fruits and vegetables. Don’t forget to increase the amount of water you take in, especially if you are taking any over-the-counter medications such as antihistamines and cold remedies. Don’t ignore chronic pain, and avoid numbing the pain so that you can sing. If you suffer from persistent pain or hoarseness in your voice, see your doctor.

To find out about the latest vocal health care products available through Singing Success call us at 888-269-7758 or send us an email at booking@singingsuccess.com.