Milk and narrating don't mix: Phlegm is no fun!

I'm lactose intolerant. That may be TMI, but its nevertheless its something you should know about me, and possibly yourself. If you have mild to severe stomach issues after consuming dairy (milk, sour cream, cheese, ice cream, etc) then your body probably doesn't digest that food well either.

A gassy stomach isn't the only annoying after effect of consuming dairy (sound booth!). Lactose can also be detrimental to one's voice career due to having a phlegmy nasal passage and mucousy mouth.

These are both things I've experienced after a regular diet of any of the aforementioned items. It's not an immediate effect either. I'd enjoy my milk and dairy and feel no effect, other than the occasional gassiness, but the next day was more problematic.

I would wake up in the morning, and feel fine. But after having been laying in a horizontal position for 8 hours there was a settling of mucous and phlegm in my head. This isn't something that one would notice during the first couple of hours unless one has early morning voice work to do, like I do.


I've had the opportunity to conduct a live broadcast of a daily Bible reading via YouTube in which I  read from about 45 minutes to 1-1/2 hour. The first 10 minutes or so had no issue, but eventually, I would feel nasal pressure, then a slight blockage slipping from my nasal area to the back of my throat.

Because this was a casual atmosphere, I had the freedom to step off-camera from time to time and (muting the microphone) clear the phlegm out. In a more professional environment, I don't think this would be appropriate. My advice, limit or eliminate dairy.

One thing that helped to cut the phlegm in half was drinking lemon water or sucking on lemon wedges about 20 minutes prior to hosting my reading. I really felt a difference on the days that I had the lemon juice, from the times I did not. Drinking water throughout the reading helped as well. Another thing to note is that the longer you can be standing upright or walking around prior to doing voice work the better. Giving my body time to rebalance its fluids, phlegm or otherwise has benefitted me before reading.

My advice to anyone wondering "does milk affect the voice?", my experience has been YES. I still have not achieved the level of discipline to completely give up my favorite dairy foods, but I know the days that I do have them, I have to work that much harder to combat that sticky mouth and phlegmy nose.

So as much as you can, avoid as much dairy as possible when you are going to do voice work, clear your throat and nose as much prior to your voice work, drink water often, and try to give your body time to "resettle" any leftover mucous to clear it away from your #1 business tool. Your voice.