Sugar can absolutely affect your voice. Here’s a quick rundown of how and why:
How sugar affects the voice
Eating or drinking too much sugar can lead to dehydration, which dries out your vocal cords. Sugar also increases mucus production, which coats the vocal cords and affects vibration. This can make voices sound hoarse, raspy, or weak.
High sugar intake is linked to acid reflux, which can irritate the vocal cords. Reflux causes inflammation and swelling, leading to voice changes.
Consuming large amounts of sugar may contribute to yeast growth in the vocal tract. This also leads to swelling and irritation.
Eating lots of sugar causes spikes and crashes in blood sugar levels. This can affect energy levels and vocal control, causing unsteadiness or changes in pitch/tone.
Why sugar affects the voice
There are a few key reasons why consuming too much sugar can negatively impact vocal health and lead to voice changes:
- Sugar dehydrates the body – Dehydration dries out and irritates the vocal cords, affecting vibration.
- Sugar increases mucus production – Excess mucus coats the vocal cords, impacting sound production.
- Sugar worsens acid reflux – Reflux causes swelling and irritation of the vocal cords.
- Sugar promotes yeast overgrowth – Yeast causes inflammation in the vocal tract.
- Sugar causes blood sugar spikes/crashes – This affects energy and vocal control.
Which sugars are worst for the voice?
Refined and concentrated sugars tend to be more detrimental to vocal health than natural sugars:
- High fructose corn syrup
- Table sugar (sucrose)
- Brown sugar
- Maple syrup
- Syrups like corn syrup
- Sweetened coffee drinks
- Fruit juice concentrates
These all contain high amounts of fructose and/or glucose, which can promote inflammation, dehydration, reflux, and yeast overgrowth.
Does artificial sweetener affect voice?
Artificial sweeteners like aspartame, saccharin, and sucralose are generally considered safe for the voice in moderation. They do not significantly impact vocal health or cause voice changes directly.
However, large amounts of artificially sweetened drinks could still potentially irritate the throat and vocal cords. And some people report throat clearing, coughing, or hoarseness linked to certain sweeteners.
What about natural sugars?
Natural sugars like those found in fruits, some vegetables, grains, milk, etc. are gentler on the voice when consumed in moderation. While they can still promote yeast growth and affect vocal cords if overdone, they do not cause the same extreme spikes and crashes in blood sugar.
Some examples of foods with natural sugars that can support vocal health:
- Low sugar fruits like berries
- Nuts and seeds
- Whole grains
- Plain yogurt and milk
These provide nutrients, hydration, and energy for the voice without harsh effects.
How much sugar is too much for singers?
There are no definitive guidelines on exact daily sugar limits for singers. However, most experts recommend:
- Women: No more than 25g added sugars per day
- Men: No more than 36g added sugars per day
This is equal to about:
- 6 teaspoons for women
- 9 teaspoons for men
Ideally, singers should avoid concentrated sources like soda, candy, syrups, and sweetened coffee drinks. Moderation is key even with natural sugars from fruit and milk.
Tips to reduce sugar for vocal health
Here are some tips to keep sugar in check for better vocal health:
- Drink more water to avoid dehydration
- Limit or avoid sodas, juice, sweet tea, and energy drinks
- Read labels and avoid products with added sugars
- Satisfy sweet cravings with small portions of fresh fruit or yogurt
- Choose whole foods over processed foods high in hidden sugars
- Sweeten foods naturally with small amounts of honey, maple syrup, etc. instead of refined white sugar
- Don’t skip meals to prevent bingeing on sugary foods later
When to see a doctor
Consult your doctor or speech pathologist if you experience persistent vocal changes like:
- Hoarseness lasting over 2 weeks
- Loss of vocal range
- Changes in tone/pitch
- Trouble projecting
- Vocal fatigue
- Throat pain/discomfort
While sugar may play a role, other factors like allergies, acid reflux, or growths could be involved. Seek help determining the underlying cause.
Consuming too much added and refined sugar can negatively impact vocal health and cause changes like hoarseness, loss of range, and vocal fatigue. Sugar promotes dehydration, inflammation, and yeast overgrowth in the vocal tract. While natural sugars are gentler, moderation is still key. Limit added sugars to 25-36g daily, hydrate well, and consume a balanced diet. Seek medical help for persistent voice changes to identify any underlying problems.