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  • Writer's pictureGary Moller

The Importance of Mucus for Respiratory Health and the Role of Diet

Updated: Apr 24

I'm writing this because I get many inquiries about milk and mucus, and other concerns about milk consumption, such as milk causing inflammation. In this article, I'm focusing on mucus.

But, first, let me say that milk has been around since the beginnings of civilisation and has been an important contributor to human health over the millennia. Milk, of the full-fat A-2 protein kind, and with the least processing, has built strong populations, such as seen in the Dutch, the Danes, and the Swiss, who have been daily consumers of traditionally produced and prepared milk products for countless generations. If milk was inherently bad for humans, then these populations, instead of being tall, strong, and long-lived, would instead, be weak, sick and be dying prematurely of just about every degenerative disease under the sun. While some people undoubtedly have issues with milk, let's not throw the milk out with the bathwater: There's milk, and then there's milk and milk and milk of all kinds, and there are numerous wonderful products that are derived from milk. So, with that said, let's talk about mucus.

Mucus: It's not all Bad!

Mucus often gets a bad rap, associated with unpleasant symptoms like congestion and coughing. However, this sticky substance plays a crucial role in maintaining respiratory health. From moisturising the airways to trapping harmful pathogens, mucus serves as a vital defence mechanism for the respiratory system. Additionally, diet plays a significant role in respiratory health, and making informed dietary choices can further support respiratory function. If an increase in mucus is experienced, this is likely a natural and healthy response that is to be welcomed and encouraged. Let me explain.

Moistening and Lubricating:

One of the primary functions of mucus is to moisten and lubricate the airways, making sure they stay hydrated. This moisture is essential for proper lung function and helps prevent irritation and discomfort caused by dry air.

Trapping and Clearing Pathogens:

Mucus contains specialised proteins called mucins, which form a sticky gel-like substance. This gel traps inhaled particles such as dust, pollen, bacteria, and viruses, preventing them from reaching the lungs. Cilia, tiny hair-like structures lining the respiratory tract, then beat in a coordinated motion, moving the mucus upwards towards the throat. This process helps remove pathogens and foreign particles from the respiratory system, reducing the risk of infections.

If, for example, a person has constant, excessive mucus production such as post-nasal-drip, then there may be a chronic sinus infection that needs better treatment.

Filtering and Purifying:

In addition to trapping pathogens, mucus acts as a filter, capturing harmful substances and pollutants present in the air we breathe. By trapping these particles, mucus helps prevent them from entering the lungs and damaging delicate lung tissues.

Humidifying the Air:

Mucus also helps humidify the air we breathe, making sure it reaches the lungs at an optimal humidity level. This is crucial for maintaining the health of the respiratory epithelium, the thin layer of cells lining the airways, which can become irritated and damaged if exposed to overly dry air.

Supporting Immune Defence:

Beyond its physical barriers, mucus contains various immune components, including antibodies and antimicrobial peptides, which help neutralise pathogens and protect against infections. Additionally, mucus-producing cells release inflammatory mediators in response to infection or irritation, helping initiate and regulate the immune response in the respiratory tract.

The Impact of Diet:

Diet plays a significant role in respiratory health. Opting for a diet that includes grass-fed, full-cream non-homogenised milk, and butter can be beneficial, rather than negative. These sources of dairy provide essential nutrients, the fat-soluble vitamins, and healthy fats that support overall health, including respiratory function. It's important to be mindful of added sugars in low-fat yoghurts, as they can contribute to respiratory issues. Yeast, viruses, and fungi, love sugar! Choosing natural, unsweetened options, without lots of added fruit and berries (sources of sugar) can help maintain respiratory health.

Natural Approaches for Mucus Clearance:

  • Warm Fluids: Drinking warm liquids (like tea or broth) can help loosen thickened mucus.

  • Steam: Inhaling warm air from a humidifier or hot shower can moisten air passages and loosen mucus.

  • Honey: May reduce inflammation and coughing, although its effect on mucus clearance isn’t clear.

  • Saltwater Gargle: Helps loosen throat mucus and soothes sore throats.

  • Mucus-Reducing Foods: Ginger, lemon, garlic, and turmeric are believed to reduce mucus production.

Nutraceutical Products that loosen and enhance healthy mucus:


As I said earlier, let's not throw out the milk with the bath-water: Experiment first, while appreciating the important benefits of mucus.

Mucus serves as a vital defence mechanism for the respiratory system, protecting against infections, maintaining optimal lung function, and supporting overall respiratory health. If a person feels they are suffering from excessive mucus, then look for the root causes, such as a chronic sinus infection and treat that.

Opting for grass-fed, full-cream non-homogenised, A-2 protein dairy products that are as close to traditionally prepared as can be, and avoiding added sugars, can further support respiratory function and overall well-being.

By understanding the importance of mucus and its relationship with a healthy immune system, we can take proactive steps to keep our respiratory system healthy and functioning properly.

Additional Information

Health Professional, Bruce Thomson, has written an excellent article in response to what I've written here. I urge you to read what he's written, and please subscribe to his writings:

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