7 Habits For Healthy Singers (Part IV)
6. Eat well for your voice
Proper nutrition for vocalists is mostly concerned with supporting your thyroid gland. The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland that surrounds your larynx, where your voice is produced. It’s important for singers to eat thyroid-supportive foods—here are three foods to consider
Coconut oil: As far as I’m concerned, coconut oil is a magic food. It’s anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-viral. It increases your metabolic rate, helping you with fat loss and consistent energy. Coconut oil consists of medium-chain triglycerides, which, unlike other fats, can go directly to your liver to be metabolized as quick energy I love to use Tropical Traditions organic expeller-pressed coconut oil; I prefer this kind over extra-virgin varieties, because it has no coconut aftertaste and is easier to digest. I recommend that you cook with it and/or add it to soups, broths, drinks or smoothies.
Gelatin: Gelatin is an excellent source of protein that has been linked to improved digestion, decreased joint inflammation, better sleep and a reduction in allergy symptoms. It’s a great help to your thyroid because it doesn’t have the inflammatory amino acids that are in meats and soy—and the last thing you want before your audition is to have your cords be inflamed. Gelatin also contains glycine, an amino acid that helps to calm you down (bonus) and aids the liver in recovering from alcohol consumption. So if you (ahem) had a bit too much last night, eat some gelatin, y’all. I use Great Lakes Gelatin, which is specially formulated to dissolve in any liquid without thickening it. I put it in juice, milk, coffee, yogurt, stews, etc. You can also try bone broth, which has many of the same properties.
Fruit: Glucose (sugar) is the preferred source of energy for almost every cell in your body. It is also your brain’s main source of energy, and your brain may require up to 25-50% of your consumed glucose. Glucose is also needed for quick muscle energy, and two things we need to be working in our auditions are our brains and our muscles. Fruits, which are high in a version of glucose called fructose, metabolize more evenly and consistently than bread, corn, etc. A piece of fruit combined with some fat and salt (I’m obsessed with Jackson’s Honest coconut oil potato chips and sweet potato chips.) can be a great light lunch or snack before you perform.
For more info, check out Kate Deering’s book How to Heal Your Metabolism.
7. Think like an athlete
As far as I am concerned, vocalists are Olympians. We singers do a complex, intricate motor activity just like high-level athletes. We need to remember to get enough sleep, practice regularly, and support our study with the right equipment.
Here are three items to consider getting for your singing practice:
Strength Bands: I love strength bands because their combination of flexibility and strength mimics what muscles do. I use them to provide resistance for my jaw, neck, back, etc. when I do mobility drills. For most singing applications, I recommend purchasing the 1/4 inch and the 1/2 inch size. If you’re really strong, you may also want the 3/4 inch size.
Tuning Fork: A tuning fork can be used to find places where resonance is lacking in your body. Basically, if you can't feel a part of your face/skull/chest/back/etc., it's really hard to place your voice there. To test yourself, you slap the tuning fork on your palm and then place the prong end on various parts of your body. You should be able to hear and hum the pitch the tuning fork vibrates. If you can't hear it, your nerves need to be woken up in that part of your body.
Breathe Slim: If you're interested in improving your breathing, a Breathe Slim is a great investment. You fill the device with a small amount of water, and you breathe in and out, using the water to create resistance. This trains abdominal and diaphragmatic musculature, as well as building carbon dioxide in the bloodstream, which does lots of good stuff for you.
You can visit my Gear for Singers page to buy these products, and see others that I recommend for singing training.