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Diet for Phlegm

The thick, sticky substance produced by the throat is called phlegm. Those suffering from bronchitis, asthma and other such respiratory problems experience phlegm more often. Once in a while, however, everyone experiences phlegm either due to a common cold or an infection caused by environmental pollution. Phlegm in lungs causes unpleasant symptoms such as chronic coughing, clearing of throat, runny nose, and difficulty with breathing. For some people, the problem of phlegm lasts as long as the illness that causes it.

For others, it may become an ongoing problem that does not respond to conventional medical treatment. In both cases, the ideal treatment is to follow a special diet for phlegm.

Food to Include:

Following a diet as a treatment for phlegm can help loosen phlegm and congestion and prevent sluggishness, exhaustion, and other symptoms. Needless to say, if you are allergic to any of the following foods, do not include them in your diet. Good foods for phlegm include:

  • Ginger
  • Garlic
  • Lemon juice
  • Onions
  • Spicy foods
  • Hot soups or broths
  • Bitter foods
  • Tea
  • Goat’s milk, soy milk or almond milk (in place of cow’s milk)
  • Fruits like apples, pears
  • Whole grains such as barley, millet, quinoa, and corn
  • Beetroots
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Sprouts

Foods to Avoid

There are also a number of foods that cause phlegm and can exacerbate the symptoms. These include:

  • Salt
  • Cheese
  • Yoghurt
  • Chocolate
  • Refined sugars
  • Oily or fried foods
  • Fruits like oranges, bananas, pineapple, figs
  • Nuts
  • Olives
  • Tomatoes
  • Pork
  • Soft drinks / carbonated beverages
  • Alcohol

Health Tips to Deal with Phlegm:

If you suffer from symptoms of phlegm you should:

  • Stop smoking as the use of tobacco can aggravate problems with the lungs and increase infections and the production of phlegm.
  • If you do have a viral or bacterial chest, nasal, or sinus infection, it is best that you deal with the problem immediately and consult with your doctor at the earliest. The faster you treat the infection, the lesser the chance of a build up of phlegm.
  • Avoid over-the-counter cough suppressants as these can cause further build up of phlegm in the throat and lungs.
  • Drink plenty of water to loosen phlegm and assist with elimination.
  • Consult with your doctor or physiotherapist about breathing exercises and techniques that may help you expel excess phlegm and reduce congestion.


  • Additional Information


    • Food Allergies
    • Viral or bacterial infections (these include pneumonia, influenza, candida etc.)
    • Smoking
    • Indigestions
    • Stress
    • Respiratory diseases such as emphysema, asthma, lung cancer etc.
    • Chemotherapy
    • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
    • Pregnancy


  • Excessive coughing
  • Phlegm that is green or yellow in color that indicates an infection
  • Coughing up of phlegm
  • Shortness of breath and difficulty breathing
  • Tightness in the chest
  • Sore throat
  • Runny nose
  • Fever



    The color and consistency of you phlegm provides your doctor with an indication of the cause of excessive phlegm. Depending on the cause, the correct treatment will then be prescribed. This could include:

    • Homeopathic medication such a Kali Mur or Kali Sulph that may help reduce congestion and phlegm
    • Medication such as decongestants can help treat phlegm caused by a nasal or sinus infection.
    • Respiratory disorders may be treated with medications such as broncho-dilators, expectorants, and steroids.

    Home Remedies:

    • Steam inhalation (unless you suffer from asthma as inhaling steam can aggravate the condition)
    • Eucalyptus oil steam inhalation
    • Gargle with warm salt water
    • Mix one tablespoon of raw honey with a pinch of white pepper and take this twice a day to reduce phlegm and cough
    • A natural expectorant that you can try out is two tablespoons of grape juice mixed with two tablespoons of honey. Have this thrice a day for a minimum of five days to reduce phlegm
    • Mix one cup of boiling water with the juice of one onion and one lemon. You can add a little honey to this for taste. Let it cool to room temperature and drink to eliminate phlegm.
    • Eat raw garlic diced and mixed with a little honey. This works as an expectorant and relieve a sore throat.
    • Drink ginger tea throughout the day to provide relief for a sore throat or cough.


Submitted on January 16, 2014