Can the Right Food Help my Singing?

Commissioned Illustration trio with doctor
Hey Doc, as long as I don't eat twinkles for breakfast, does it really matter what I eat in terms of singing quality?

Dr. Jahn,

Are there any foods that will help or hinder my singing? Or is this something that is purely subjective and psychological? I mean, I get how important water is – but I am wondering about types of food. If one has no allergies to things, and one is basically healthy (i.e. no twinkles for breakfast) does it really matter what you eat in terms of singing quality?

-George

Dear George,

Your question can be answered briefly, or at some length. Briefly: if you eat a varied diet with lots of green vegetables, healthy protein, and no additives, this will provide a sound substrate for your body and your singing.

The longer answer would need to explore any food allergies that you may or may not be aware of.

Typical ones are lactose and gluten, but some patients have other specific allergies.

Interestingly, patients are often addicted to the very foods that they are allergic to. Chocoholics often have chocolate allergy, by way of example.

You should also consider if any foods cause acid reflux for you. The poster child in this category is tomatoes but other foods can also cause reflux, with a potentially negative affect on your voice.

Dairy may be fine for you or it may cause an excess amount of mucus. You can test for this by eliminating dairy from your diet for a couple of weeks.

Not to become too esoteric, I would just eat mindfully, and avoid foods that cause reflux or excess mucus.

Consider also that smaller quantities eaten more frequently are more healthful than fewer and larger meals.

– Anthony F. Jahn, MD, FACS, FRCS(C)

This discussion is for general information and not to be construed as specific medical advice that you should obtain from your own physician.

Dr. Jahn is an internationally renowned otolaryngologist based in Manhattan with a sub-specialty interest in the professional voice. His practice includes classical and popular singers. He holds academic appointments at Mount Sinai School of Medicine and Westminster Choir College in Princeton, and is Medical Director at the Metropolitan Opera and Jazz at Lincoln Center. Dr. Jahn has published "The Singer's Guide to Complete Health" (Oxford University Press) - a comprehensive guidebook on a wide range of health issues that affect the voice.