We’re going to talk about health as it pertains to the voice. So much of our vocal health is related directly to how we treat our bodies. You want to treat your voice like its the engine of a high performance vehicle. You want to fuel your body so you can get the best possible performance out of your voice. Here are my tips and tricks for optimum vocal health.
It should go without saying, water is a singers best friend. A well hydrated body thins mucous and lubricates the vocal chords so they react quickly and sound velvety. If you ever notice its a bit hard to sing or you're fatigued, drink water. Lots of it. Drink as often and as much as you can. As a singer I try to aim for a gallon a day. It seems like a lot because it is! But you want that extra bit of moisture especially if you don’t have a strict healthy alkalizing diet. You want your urine to be an orderless light lime color almost clear (yeah I said it), not lemon color and never yellow. If your urine is yellow you need more water. If your voice is scratchy, drink more water. Write water on your forehead so when you look in the mirror you remember to drink water. Water boring? Add lemon to it, it becomes alkaline water which is amazing for your voice. But if your drinking lemon water wait at least an hour before singing, as lemon is drying to the vocal chords at first. Never drink too hot or too cold of water. Room temperature and warm tea while singing is best.
Food for vocal health?! You bet! There are foods that have amazing benefits for your voice and food that absolutely destroy your vocal chords. The cleaner the food, the cleaner the body, the purer the voice will be.
-STAY AWAY from process foods, wheat gluten, acidic foods, too spicy, dairy and fried foods. Dairy, sugar, wheat gluten and acid are by far the worst things for your voice. I mean you will still be able to sing but it will be so much easier, smoother, warmer and more beautiful if you make a solid effort to eliminate these things. I love spicy food, I love some cheese, I love bread but I eat these things rarely and sparingly. What do I do IF and WHEN I eat from the dark side?!?! I DRINK MORE… WATER! Water will combat these things pretty quickly. Just don’t eat like this right before or around singing time/showtime. Singing later? Wait like 3-4 hours and DRINK LOTS OF WATER. Completely avoid eating these things on performance days, only after if possible.
-EAT MORE veggies. I’m trying to think of other foods but veggies are the best. Leafy greens, asparagus with lemon, green beans with lemon, spinach, broccoli, anything GREEN with lemon and a little olive oil is amazing for your voice! A good pre sing meal or performance meal is a lean meat (chicken or fish) with half a cup brown rice/quinoa and a GREEN Veggie with lemon and oil. Mostly green veggies tho. It’s like magic. Limit fruit intake (sugars) even tho its natural its still hard on the voice but if you must eat sweet eat clean.
Singers need an average of 7-9 hours of sleep. There is no remedy for lack of sleep in singing. Nothing to combat the effects. REST UP. I know personally 7 hours is not enough for my voice. 7 hour of sleep or less my voice is super scratchy and gives me issues. 9 hours of sleep and she responds wonderfully, she’s warm, i’m more focused, I have more energy, I sound better! because i’ve had enough sleep!!! It makes everything easier. I cannot stress this enough.
I have to admit, I’m not the best at being consistent with exercising. I’m either all for it or I fall off for weeks at a time. Regardless a strong body is a strong voice. Exercising is essential. Anything that gets those lungs pumping will make you a better stronger singer. Cardio, kickboxing, dancing, running, tennis, basketball, jumprope, volleyball. Literally anything! Be creative just get your lungs working. Also you want lean muscle. Pilates, aerobics, dance and yoga are amazing for your voice. The only thing you don’t want is exercising that causes strain on your body but especially your neck, upper back and chest area. You don’t want these places tight as it will put extra strain in voice. Also you want a strong core. In singing you're using a lot of abdominal muscles and your diaphragm. You want strength there. You don’t need an 8 pack you just want to recognize and increase of strength there. You will feel it. Cardio, lean strength training, strong core. Perfect for singers.
The worst thing you can do for your voice is ingest harsh things: Drugs, alcohol, smoking, processed foods, acid, dairy, wheat gluten, sugar, and spicy foods. Some worse than others. If you ever feel like you need an emergency vocal rescue! DRINK WATER! LOTS and LOTS of water. Especially before bed! Eat a meal with veggies and lemon. This has saved me more times than I can count. Challenge yourself to try a few of these things. TRY THE ENTIRE LIST for ONE WEEK! See if your vocal routine gets easier. See if your voice is smoother, fuller, easier to control. Do these things along with regular vocal warm ups and exercises. This will change your life and it will become fun. How can you manipulate your health to benefit your voice? You have all the control to make your voice work for you.