At some point in our lives, we have all encountered the common cold. This viral infection often brings along unwelcome companions, such as fever, a runny nose, and headaches. These symptoms are commonly attributed to sinusitis, an infection affecting the mucosal lining of the nose and sinuses.
If you have ever experienced sinusitis, you are probably familiar with the desire to find quick and effective remedies. One such remedial measure that is often a topic of debate involves avoiding certain foods that may aggravate or worsen sinusitis symptoms. Happiest Health explores which foods might exacerbate sinusitis symptoms.
5 foods best left off your plate
Believe it or not, food plays an important role in calming and aggravating pre-existing health issues. It applies in the case of sinusitis too. While there are limited research and anecdotal claims suggesting certain foods to steer clear of during sinus congestion, particularly in sinus congestion.
Sinus issues often come from thickening mucus, which can be quite irritating. And, dairy products naturally create thicker mucus, which can exacerbate any issues in your sinuses.
Sonia Velarsan, a nutrigenomics and onco-nutrition specialist at the University of Trans-Disciplinary Health Sciences and Technology, Bengaluru, says that in a few individuals dairy products worsen sinus issues by thickening the mucus. “Yogurt or curd might be amazing for the body but not when having sinusitis as it has a cooling effect in nature.”
However, it is best to limit your dairy intake to prevent this from happening, and if you even want to include dairy or yogurt in your sinus diet, avoid consuming it at night.
Sugar, especially refined sugar (and not the natural sugars found in fruit), may exacerbate the sinusitis symptoms.
“Sugar is an inflammatory and causes swelling in the sinuses,” says Yamini Priya, Dietitian, Billroth Hospital, Chennai. “It is not the only reason that one should limit the consumption of refined sugar but one should do it in the favour of their overall health.”
Chocolates, sodas, and sweet treats
Priya says that it is the refined sugars in chocolates, candies, sodas and other sweet treats that worsen the sinusitis symptoms. But along with the refined sugars, there are several additives and dairy substances that add to the risk of sinus inflammation and aggravating sinusitis.
“Avoiding or limiting these foods that cause sinus problems can help you tackle sinusitis bouts,” she adds.
Histamine rich foods
Histamine, a protein secreted by the white blood cells, help fight allergies in the body. The body in the surge of histamine experiences symptoms such as rashes, congestion, and itching – which is the body’s feedback mechanism to fight against the potential allergens.
This histamine is also found in certain foods and the body quickly breaks this down in healthy individuals. However, individuals who are intolerant to histamine break it less effectively leading to its buildup.
“Many popular foods, like cheese, tomatoes, eggplant, and processed meats and fishes, contain safe levels of histamine. Your sinuses are sensitive parts of the body and histamines can cause issues if one is already struggling. This is because your body responds to histamine like you are having a very mild allergic reaction,” says Velarsan.
Sour and citric foods
Sour foods are typically characterised by their acidic and tart taste. Some such foods to be avoided are:
- Citrus fruits: While citric fruits like lemons, limes, oranges, grapefruits, and tangerines are rich sources of vitamin C that helps improve immunity, However, these sour fruits rich in citric acid and may aggravate sinusitis symptoms in some.
- Vinegar: Various types of vinegar, such as apple cider vinegar and white vinegar, are sour due to their acetic acid content.
- Fermented foods: Foods like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi are sour due to the fermentation process, which produces lactic acid.
- Sour candies: These candies contain citric or tartaric acid to give them their sour taste.
- Amla (Indian Gooseberry): Amla is known for its sour taste and is rich in vitamin C.
Sour foods, while often nutritious and flavourful, can exacerbate sinusitis symptoms for some individuals. The primary reason behind this is their acidity.
Velarsan and Priya say that the excess consumption of acidic foods can also lead to the following issues:
- Increased mucus production: Acidic foods may stimulate the body to produce more mucus as a protective mechanism, which can worsen congestion and sinusitis symptoms.
- Sinus lining irritation: Acidic foods can irritate the already inflamed sinus linings, leading to discomfort and potentially prolonging the healing process.
- Triggering allergies: Some individuals may have allergies to specific sour foods or additives used in sour candies, which can worsen sinusitis symptoms.
- Reflux and heartburn: Acidic foods can contribute to acid reflux and heartburn, which can aggravate sinusitis symptoms.
It is important to note that the effect of foods can vary from person to person. While some individuals may experience worsened symptoms, others may not be affected significantly. Therefore, it is advisable to monitor the body’s response to these foods and consult with a healthcare professional to make dietary adjustments accordingly.