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I was just listening to a brief interview with Kathryn Jenkins and the subject of "looking after your voice" came up. I couldn't find anything directly about food/drink here so thought I'd ask.

She (and one other) recommended Manuka Honey and a few other things such as pineapple, and also to avoid spicy food and milk.

I realise everyone's body is different (mine certainly is!) but it seems among the professional vocalist community there are some foods and drinks which are recommended or advised against, because they either affect the vocal chords or cause more mucous to be generated, or other reasons. Some I have heard may be bogus, for example I recently heard bananas cause more mucous generation potentially resulting in a croaky throat so should be avoided.

So my question is: Which food or drink have an affect on vocals particularly, and what is the effect ?

I'll ask it that way rather than "what's good" because what's good for one voice mght not be good for another, eg a load of whiskey is traditional for bluesy/rock singers but I gather classical singers tend to avoid alcohol before a performance.

I'm a rock singer myself and I have good nights vocally and weaker ones when I have to play it safe. I'm wondering whether the cause of variation is food-based.

Edit: Note that I'm asking this for a fit, healthy person (usually able to sing, well hydrated, no illness like cold/flu as we all get time to time).


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Chalk, of course! – leftaroundabout May 2 '14 at 12:52
As someone who is not usually a good singer, I find alcohol improves the sound of my voice. – smcg May 2 '14 at 17:32
After leaving this for a while and then returning, there are only 2 answers. Maybe I should have asked this in a dietician's website. I was hoping for more definite answers about particular foodstuffs. – user2808054 May 9 '14 at 13:10
Pineapple seems questionable since it is known to degrade tissue (proteins), especially in the throat and mouth. – Matthew Read Jan 24 '15 at 1:40

One thing I haven't seen anyone disagreeing about is that water is good for the voice. I've heard that fatty foods like chips should be good (I think the reason was lubrication of the vocal chords), but I haven't seen any good results from that. Drinking water is good in my experience though.

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Agree- Water clears the throat etc but also remaining hydrated is pretty essential (whole body) otherwise your muscles start to cramp up. I'll add that I'm assuming this is for a "well person" (ie fit, usually able to sing, no illness) ta – user2808054 May 2 '14 at 9:51
On the other hand I hear that coffee is bad, even before talking in public. – Ivan Kapitonov May 2 '14 at 11:00
@IvanKapitonov: Well, coffee is dehydrating, so it goes hand in hand with the theory that hydration is important. On the other hand, it can lead to a more energetic delivery ;). – Meaningful Username May 2 '14 at 11:01
Well, stuff like "fatty food" will only be good for using up hydration within a few hours of singing. For any purportive positive effects, you'd need to ingest them at a time where digestion has had a chance to get to the state where net benefits come out. – User8773 May 2 '14 at 15:38

It's also a matter of timing. As a male alto with a natural bass-baritone voice, good closure is essential for good reach, sound, and dynamic control.

Things that repeatedly surprised me to have surprisingly good consequences here have been eating/drinking/talking/partying too much. Also, a considerable bout of endurance sports (like running/dancing/rowing/cycling for hours).

However, and here is where the "timing" bit comes in, done the day/night before. On performance day itself, all of these have proven detrimental to me. I suppose it's some sort of bounce-back effect where the throat muscles and larynx are back to good shape while the vocal folds are still a bit thicker than usual.

Also, its benefits are most important for the "male alto" stuff, namely the falsetto. The range of chest voice is lowered on both ends, probably more so on the high end. Now I have about an octave of overlap between chest voice and falsetto so that's not much of a worry for me, but for, say, a tenor working with chest and mixed voice this could be quite a drawback.

So the point is: try what various kinds of thing do for you, and also try them one day before. The effect may be opposite.

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It's interesting you should mention parting hard the night before (and good news haha). Sometimes I have two gigs in a row eg Friday and Saturday. I sing for about 3 hours each night, and generally rock out so it's quite tiring. I'd have expected that the second night would be a struggle, but almost always I'm a lot more able on the second night, finding the higher notes a lot easier. Makes not much sense to me, but there it is :-) – user2808054 May 2 '14 at 11:22
having re-read this, I meant "Partying hard" . "Parting hard" sounds like something new, and quite painful. – user2808054 Jun 19 '14 at 9:03

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