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Mucus is a very important part of our bodies. Mucus enables the body to protect itself from foreign invaders like viruses, bacteria, allergens or even cancer cells.

What is mucus?

Mucus is a thick, slimy fluid made of salt, cells, water and mucin (mucin makes it slippery). Some tissues of the body produce this fluid to help lubricate and protect the mucus membranes that line cavities within the body; various organs which contain mucus producing cells include the nose, throat, lungs, vagina, intestines, the urinary tract as well as reproductive organs. Mucus also helps to moisten food making it easy to swallow.

An adult produces about 4 cups of mucus each day, this is only from the nose and sinus cavities. Extra mucus is also produced by the tiny mucus secreting glands that are scattered throughout the throat and lower respiratory tract. Without a normal amount of mucus the organs in our bodies cannot function properly; it is therefore important to maintain normal and not excessive mucus production to help keep your body healthy and functioning optimally.

The main function of mucus is to protect these organs in the body:

  • Digestive organs
    • Mucus helps protect the stomach lining from gastric juices and acids when food is being digested.
    • Mucus lubricates the intestinal lining.
  • Respiratory organs
    • Air is moisturized when inhaling as a result of it passing over mucus.
    • Lungs are protected from harmful bacteria.
    • Mucus helps prevent the nasal passages from drying out.
    • Mucus helps get rid of foreign particles from the body.

Mucus colour

Mucus is normally clear and watery, but it can also change its colour during an infection. The colour changes can vary or it may change from clear to cloudy, yellow, green, brown, red, or black.  Any change in mucus colour is usually a sign of a health problem or infection developing within the body.

White Mucus
Clear mucus is a sign of good health. When the body begins to produce excessive mucus which is white in colour it indicates a health problem. Any runny nose with clear mucus can also indicate allergies. LEARN MORE >>>>

Yellow Mucus
Mucus becomes yellow when the body is fighting off a virus during a sinus infection or a common cold. LEARN MORE >>>>

Green Mucus
Green mucus indicates that the person has a bacterial infection. This mucus colour can also indicate a more advanced or chronic sinus infection has developed. LEARN MORE >>>>

Red/Brown Mucus
Red mucus indicates an irritated throat caused by smoking or as a result of consuming a lot of alcohol. This mucus is most common in people with asthma or as a result of damaged or bleeding mucus membranes in the sinus cavities or nasal passages. LEARN MORE >>>>

Foods that affect the quantity of mucus production

Here is a list of foods that increase mucus production:

  • Milk - It has a protein called Casein which increases the production of mucus in the body. Milk has also been known to assist in the drying out of mucus therefore making it thicker and more difficult to drain.
  • Nuts
  • Grains such as wheat assist in the drying out of mucus making it harder for the body to expel excess dry mucus.
  • Popcorn
  • Oatmeal
  • Meats - fish, eggs, chicken
  • Oils -  foods cooked in oils aggravate the mucus development
  • Drinks -  soft drinks, alcohol, coffee and black tea
  • Sulfured fruits or dried fruits 
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