Nasal congestion is quite common, with a stuffy or runny nose being early symptoms. It is often accompanied by a throbbing headache, and can also lead to a sore throat as a side-effect. The condition mostly occurs due to allergies that cause the nasal tissues to be inflamed. Sometimes, sinus pressure also causes nasal congestion, leading to a stuffy or runny nose. The symptoms can be easily relieved with home-based remedies that moisten the nasal passages and lower inflammation of nasal membranes. Usually, humidifiers, nasal saline sprays, and steam showers ease the symptoms of this problem. Additionally, eating certain foods can help in decongestion of the nasal canals, while certain other foods worsen it. Here are the dietary dos and don’ts to follow by one suffering from nasal congestion.
Foods that help to stop nasal congestion
Certain foods have anti-inflammatory properties and eating them can help in providing relief to inflamed sinuses.
- Garlic: When crushed or chopped, garlic releases the enzyme called allicin. This enzyme is anti-bacterial and anti-viral. Adding it to soups, salads, dressing, or any meal prep can help in giving relief from nasal congestion. Garlic is thus one of the most effective decongestants you will find in your kitchen.
- Chicken soup: Steaming hot chicken soup is one of the best foods to have in the case of a runny or stuffy nose. Chicken broth or soup can clear away nasal mucus pretty quickly. It is not just the steam from the hot soup that clears the nasal canal. Chicken itself has amino acid cysteine that breaks down the mucus. Add some ginger, garlic, or pepper, and the dish becomes a very powerful remedy for dealing with nasal congestion.
- Horseradish: A very potent decongestant, horseradish can give instant relief from a stuffy nose. The root is packed with minerals and antioxidants, helping it lower inflammation, albeit also leaving a slight tingling sensation in the nasal region. A little bit of horseradish in the diet can be quite powerful in clearing up the nasal canal. Since it has a very sharp and hot taste, be careful to have a minimal amount.
- Ginger: A fragrant root, ginger is loaded with anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties. It is one of the best remedies for a host of ailments including sore throat, cough, as well as nasal congestion. Ginger can be added to soups, gravies, or stews. It can be also steeped along with tea to make a soothing drink that gives relief from a stuffy nose.
- Onions: Spicy and pungent onions can instantly drain sinuses. Even if you don’t eat onions, cutting and peeling them will open up your nasal passages. The vegetable contains a natural antihistamine that lowers inflammation and clears away congestion. It is quite versatile and can be added to soups, stews, stir-fries, curries, and even salads.
- Mustard: A very flavorsome condiment, mustard is another effective decongestant for a stuffy or runny nose. It is loaded with numerous nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. This enables it to boost the immune system and clear up nasal congestion. The browner and spicier variant is said to give relief from a congested nose.
- Chili peppers: Another extremely hot and effective decongestant is chili peppers. However, this is only for those who have a very high tolerance for spicy food, so add it to your meal cautiously. Chili peppers contain capsaicin, which is a very good natural pain reliever. Add them to salsas, dips, and sauces to clear a stuffy nose.
Foods to avoid with nasal congestion
Often, food allergies can trigger nasal congestions. Also, certain foods such as processed foods can make a runny and stuffy nose worse.
- Refined sugar: Eating foods made from refined sugar can lower the immunity of the body. Also, such foods can make the body susceptible to bacteria. Whenever the condition crops up, refrain from eating soda, candy bars, store-bought baked goods, and other foods that are high in refined sugar.
- Dairy products: Casein, which is found in dairy products, is a mucus-forming chemical. Milk, yogurt, ice cream, butter, cheese, and other milk-based and diary product contain it. Casein has properties that lead to the production of histamine and has a glue-like texture. These factors increase mucus production and aggravate nasal congestion.
- Gluten-based foods: Gluten is made from plant proteins glutenin and gliadin and forms a tough and sticky mixture. When undigested, it can a major irritant in the body as it increases mucus production and leads to nasal congestion. Gluten is present in wheat, oats, barley, and rye. It is recommended to avoid eating these foods when suffering from nasal congestion.
- Soy: Those who are lactose-intolerant or avoid dairy-based products due to health reasons often go for soy-based milk and other soy-based products. Soy is found in a number of processed foods, beverages, and health foods. In most cases, it is quite a good substitute for milk. However, it overloads the mucus membranes and increases mucus in the body, causing a build-up. This makes it a food item to avoid if suffering from a nasal condition.
- Caffeinated drinks: Beverages and foods that contain caffeine affect the immune system. Caffeine also affects the adrenal glands which, when weakened, lead to the lowering of the body’s defenses against mucus build-ups. Whenever there is nasal congestion, cut down on coffee and other caffeine-based foods and drinks.