Our food and health have many different affects on the voice. Here are a few insights from Oriental medicine and my experience over the last 35 years of seeing clients with a wide range of health problems.
FOODS HAVING A DIRECT EFFECT ON THE VOICE
Avoiding mucus forming foods
Obviously you want to avoid mucus, and so the most mucus forming foods such as milk, cheese, cream and other dairy foods, foods which combine white flour with sugar and oil like Danish pastries, and other combinations of sugar and dairy like chocolate.
The long held belief that dairy foods are essential to health has now been overturned (for example see the latest advice from the NHS and their Eatwell Guide). Dairy foods can be a source of protein and fats, so instead use other sources of protein such as beans, hummus, fish, tofu dishes etc. They are also seen as a source of calcium, but very good amounts of this mineral can be gained from eating green vegetables, small amounts of sea vegetables (i.e. seaweeds! Now commonly available dried) from seeds and nuts, and in fact from most whole grains, vegetables, beans and other foods.
Sweet treats can be very tempting, especially when our energy or emotions are low, so substitute with healthier sweetness from dried apricots and apple rings, or desserts made from cooked apples, pears, berries and other fruits without dairy and refined sugar.
Hard dry foods
Such as hard crusty bread, crackers and Ryvita can cause the throat to become too dry, affecting the voice.
WHERE ENERGY COMES FROM IN THE BODY
Different people tend to hold their energy is different parts of the body, depending on their health and emotional makeup. People holding a good amount of energy in their abdomen tend to have deeper voices, those holding more energy in their chest or head will tend to have a higher voice.
Many people hold a lot of tension in their diaphragm and solar plexus, which may be due to a long term habit of holding onto and not expressing feelings and emotions to others, and/or eating foods that create tension here. These are the heavy dense foods including red and white meat, cheese and eggs.
This tension in the centre of the body can be released by eating less of these foods, and getting protein more from fish and vegetarian proteins like lentils, hummus, dahl, tofu, tempeh and seitan. And also from eating ‘lighter’ foods such as cous cous and rice, vegetables cooked in all kinds of different ways, some fruit etc. Sour tasting food particularly releases tension from the liver and diaphragm, such as sauerkraut, pickled gerkins, and using vinegars and lemon juice in dressings and drinks.
Releasing this central tension makes it easier for a person’s energy to drop down into their belly, giving access to richer emotions and a deeper, stronger voice.
FIVE VOICE QUALITIES CREATED BY OUR INTERNAL HEALTH
In Oriental medicine, our overall health is seen as depending on five main organ pairs. The health of these five pairs affects many aspects of our health, including our voice. For each pair, healthy functioning of the organs is seen as contributing a particular quality to the voice.
When the internal health of the organs becomes imbalanced or compromised by our food, lifestyle, external stresses etc. then the quality of the voice can change. This is used diagnostically in Oriental medicine as a sign of which organs are troubled, by listening to the subtle changes in the quality of the voice.
Improving the health of the organs through dietary and lifestyle changes can then bring about a change in the voice, bringing it back to what one might call the natural voice for that person.
LIVER & GALLBLADDER
These organs give volume and strength to the voice.
Where there is imbalance or poor health in these organs a person may develop a ‘shouting’ voice, which has a shouting tone to it the whole time, and difficulty speaking quietly.
On the other hand sometimes imbalance in these organs can create an overly quiet voice lacking power, that is difficult for others to hear.
A lot of tension in the jaw muscles comes from tension held in the liver area. Relaxing the solar plexus and diaphragm area can help relieve this problem.
HEART & SMALL INTESTINE
These organs give warmth, compassion, love and humour to the voice.
Where there is over-activity or excess energy in these organs, a person can become very dramatic, easily becoming over-excited or even hysterical, or can’t stop laughing!
Where there is a lack of energy in these organs, the voice can become ‘cold hearted’, stony, and without warmth.
SPLEEN, PANCREAS & STOMACH
These organs are seen as giving melody to the voice, a singing quality, and ease of modulation, that can make a voice pleasant to listen to.
When imbalanced the voice may become monotone, with a difficulty in changing the pitch.
On the other hand the voice can develop a constant whining or complaining tone, as if everything in life is wrong or too much for the person.
LUNG & LARGE INTESTINE
These organs are seen as giving clarity and sharpness to the voice.
When they become imbalanced this quality may become exaggerated and very clipped and abrupt.
When the energy is low in these organs then the voice may go the other way and become slurred, indistinct and difficult to understand.
KIDNEY & BLADDER
These organs low down in the body give depth to the voice, with the voice coming from deep in the body, with a resonant quality.
When this quality becomes too strong, a person’s voice may become permanently deep, with a difficulty getting out of the bass range.
When this quality becomes weak then a person’s voice can become high, lacking power and depth, and possibly feel nervous or fearful.
I hope this quick resume gives some useful insights, I would be very happy to spend time going into more depth if this would be useful to individuals or to groups .
Dietary and health consultant