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The health of your voice in many ways depends on the health of your body. For example, if you feel tired all the time, you will not have sufficient energy needed to sound your best. Here are 10 tips to help maintain your voice and overall health: 1- Hydration: Your vocal cords are resilient but also quite fragile. Every time you speak or sing, the vocal cords slam together. That is a lot of trauma on the soft tissue and ample hydration will keep them strong and prevent edema which can lead to various voice problems. Drink at least 2 liters of water per day. Eat fresh fruits and vegetables. Try to avoid soft drinks, juice or sugary beverages. Coffee dries the throat and so does alcohol. Limit your intake. 2- Rest: We all need a certain amount of sleep to function at our best. 7-8 hours of sleep is what you should be aiming for. After a 2 hour concert or show, your vocal cords need a good 14 hours of rest to recover. 2 hours of those folds slamming together is equivalent to running a marathon! In order to keep your voice healthy, it's always wise to be silent for those 14 hours after a long performance, if possible. In the long run, your voice will thank you! 3- Lifestyle & Diet: This isn't always something people like to hear, but if you are going to sing professionally it's something you seriously want to consider. No smoking! No alcohol! No drugs! All three of these choices will destroy your voice over time and of course your overall health as well. All of these cause serious vocal problems like nodules, polyps, vocal bleeds, granulomas, etc. Try to make healthy choices when it comes to food. As mentioned earlier, fruits and vegetables are fine options and will give you lots of energy. Avoid spicy foods as well. This too can dry out the throat. Nutritious food will help heal you faster and cut recovery time from hoarseness or overall vocal fatigue. 4- Exercise: Any form of exercise you like works just fine. Just get yourself moving and keep your muscles and heart active. It will help you sleep better as well and relieve stress. 5- No Screaming or Whispering: Whispering is actually the worst thing you can put your vocal cords through. Screaming of course isn't great either. I have often had people assume that screaming is the same as belting. No no it certainly is not! Belting is a technique and it is controlled! Two completely different things. 6- No Coughing or Throat Clearing: I think a lot of people develop bad habits when it comes to these. You feel a little phlegm in the throat and your reaction is to cough or clear it out. This natural histamine reaction of the body is your vocal cords trying to tell you they need hydration and all you're doing when coughing or clearing is causing more irritation. When your cords are dry or irritated, they produce phlegm to protect themselves. The dryer and more irritated they are, the more phlegm they produce. Think of when you have a cold and sore throat. During a sore throat there is significant inflammation and the body's reaction is to produce phlegm to coat and protect. A good tip is to use "Throat Coat Tea", warm rice milk and honey, or slippery elm. These really do the trick! 7- Avoid Dairy Products When Singing: Dairy increases the thickness of already existing phlegm in the throat. Try to avoid intake of any type of dairy and sugary foods before a performance. 8- "An Apple A Day Keeps The Doctor Away": Apples are really good for your voice and overall health. Surprisingly, they can save your vocal cords from further injury, heal and prevent vocal problems altogether. They are a superb source of healthy proteins and vitamin C, which will boost your immune system and nutrient absorption in the body. They also contain vitamin E, which protects your body's tissues. Apple Cider Vinegar is the only type of vinegar I use. Not only is it great for your digestive system, but it can help clear the vocal cords of phlegm, mucus, nodules and other complications. 9- Keep Your Sinus Healthy: I use saline spray daily to keep my sinus healthy and clean. I swear by "Xlear all-natural nasal spray". Some prefer using neti pots, which is also a good option. But, I personally prefer using a leave in spray. Saline helps to clear out any mucus that is lodged in the sinus, which then reduces inflammation and can help you breathe and sing better. 10- Never Sing With A Sore Throat or A Hoarse Voice: If you have a show to do, this can be frustrating and at times impossible, but when you can sit it out, it's always best to do so. Any form of further irritation to the vocal cords when they are already tired and swelled will cost you in extra recovery time and can lead to serious injury. I always tell my students to cancel their lessons when they are sick for this specific reason. There is nothing to do but rest and drink warm soothing liquids and even breathing in steam can really make a difference.

In closing, I would like to add that your body is your instrument and if you want to sound your very best, you should take care of it and treat it with respect!

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