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8 Foods That Help Cure Headaches

8 Foods That Help Cure Headaches


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These foods can help to counteract the cause of a headache

Dehydration is a major cause of headaches and there are plenty of water-heavy foods that can help replenish your water level.

Headaches are a pain — and we’ve all been in a situation where we just wish that it would go away. But instead of popping the usual aspirin or moping in a dark room, there are a few foods that might be able to help do the trick. While these foods don’t have any pain relievers in them, they do provide nutrients and vitamins that can help to counteract the cause of a headache.

Click here to see the 8 Foods That Help Cure Headaches (Slideshow)

While headaches are caused by different things like congestion, expanded blood vessels, and alcohol, there are some foods that can be eaten ahead of time and when you have a headache that can alleviate some of the pain. Dehydration is a major cause of headaches and there are plenty of water-heavy foods that can help replenish your water level.

The next time you feel like banging your head against a wall (or feel like you just have) reach for some of these foods to help. Click through the slideshow and check out some of these foods that can help eliminate the causes of headaches and get you feeling back to normal.

Spinach

This mighty green helps to decrease blood pressure and alleviates headaches. Swap out lettuce for spinach in your salad or blend them into a green smoothie to boost your intake.

Almonds

Almonds and other nuts and legumes are full of magnesium, which may help your body ease the pain of headaches. Increase your magnesium intake next time your head is aching.

Emily Jacobs is the Recipe editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @EmilyRecipes.


8 Foods That Trigger Headaches

Headaches and migraines are often triggered by certain foods. But not all headache triggers deserve their bad rap.

There’s nothing like a pounding headache to make you seek refuge in a dark, quiet room and hide from the world. If you suffer with chronic headache pain, you have great company. More than 45 million Americans have chronic headache pain from migraine, tension, or cluster headaches.

Women suffer headaches more frequently than men, perhaps because of variations in the brain chemical called serotonin, which plays a role in pain and depression. When levels of the hormone estrogen plummet, levels of serotonin change as well.

According to the Mayo Clinic, the most common headaches include:

Whether you suffer with migraines, tension or sinus headaches, or headaches from arthritis or jaw pain, all headaches have one central thread that weaves them together: inner or outer triggers cause the body to react with pain that’s felt in the head. These triggers may stem from foods, tobacco, chemicals, stress, environment, or your hormones, among other things, and may vary from one person to the next.

If you get headaches after eating, they may be triggered by food. Certain foods, such as alcohol, chocolate, and caffeine, have been identified as common migraine triggers. "It is not unusual at all for food to trigger migraines or other types of headaches," says Noah Rosen, MD, director of the Headache Institute at North Shore–LIJ Health System in Great Neck, New York. There are a few classic foods that trigger headaches in many people, but many different foods can trigger headaches for certain individuals. That's why following a migraine diet or keeping a food diary to document your headaches is a good idea.

Migraine or vascular headaches are often caused by dietary triggers. Go through the following list of foods and try to identify the ones that affect you and your headache pain, and avoid those foods that are bothersome. The National Headache Foundation lists the following foods that may trigger migraines or headaches and should be avoided:

  • Ripened cheese, such as cheddar, Emmentaler, Stilton, brie, and Camembert (permissible cheeses include American, cottage, cream cheese, and Velveeta)
  • Pickled or dried herring
  • Chocolate
  • Anything fermented, pickled, or marinated
  • Sour cream (have no more than ½ cup daily)
  • Nuts and peanut butter
  • Sourdough bread, breads, and crackers containing cheese or chocolate
  • Broad beans, lima beans, fava beans, and snow peas
  • Foods containing monosodium glutamate (MSG), including soy sauce, meat tenderizer, and seasoned salt
  • Figs, raisins, papayas, avocados, and red plums (have no more than ½ cup daily)
  • Citrus fruits (have no more than ½ cup daily)
  • Bananas (have no more than ½ banana daily)
  • Pizza
  • Excessive amounts of tea, coffee, or cola beverages (limit to 2 cups daily)
  • Sausage, bologna, pepperoni, salami, summer sausage, and hot dogs
  • Chicken livers and pate
  • Caffeinated beverages should be limited to 2 6-ounce brewed cups of coffee per day or the equivalent in tea. Do not exceed 200 milligrams (mg) caffeine each day.
  • Alcoholic beverages (if you do drink, limit yourself to two normal-sized drinks)

What May Help Relieve Headaches

Do keep a headache diary. Track the foods you ate 24 hours before a headache began. Download a free headache journal from the American Migraine Foundation.

Do manage your caffeine. For some people, caffeine can help migraines because it constricts enlarged blood vessels in the brain. But for others, too much caffeine (or caffeine withdrawal) is a migraine trigger.

Do eat foods high in magnesium. A majority of Americans don’t get enough magnesium and this mineral need may be even higher for headache sufferers. Koff recommends food first to help meet requirements beginning with four servings daily of the following magnesium-rich foods: 1/2 cup kidney, pinto or black beans 1/3 cup peanuts or pumpkin seeds 2 oz dark chocolate 1 1/2 cup cooked oatmeal or barley 3/4 cup cooked greens. For those that can’t or choose not to eat foods with magnesium, supplementation may be indicated. Koff recommends working with a registered dietitian to determine intake needs.

Do eat foods high in riboflavin. Also known as vitamin B2, riboflavin is involved in energy production, including in brain cells. In one study, riboflavin supplements were linked to lower incidence of migraines in headache sufferers. Beef, enriched tofu, milk, seafood, mushrooms, eggs, nuts, greens, fortified breakfast cereals and bread made with enriched flour all contain riboflavin.


What Can Trigger Migraines?

Even though the cause of migraines isn’t fully understood, research indicates that for some people migraines may be triggered by certain conditions and foods. Are your headaches triggered by one of the following?

  • Stress at home or at work.
  • Alcohol and caffeine, especially wine.
  • Hormonal changes, such as fluctuations in estrogen levels in women.
  • Sleep disturbances, including insomnia, not getting enough sleep, or sleeping too much.
  • Jet lag.
  • Medications, including oral contraceptives
  • Sensory stimuli, including loud noises, bright lights, and strong smells such as perfume and second-hand smoke.
  • Weather changes, such as a drop in barometric pressure.
  • Food additives, such as MSG and aspartame.

As well as the above conditions that trigger a headache, your migraine may be caused by some of the foods you eat. Limiting or restricting some of these foods may decrease the intensity or frequency of your migraines:

  • Dairy products
  • Eggs
  • Aged cheeses
  • Citrus foods
  • Tomatoes
  • Onions
  • Wheat
  • Nuts
  • Chocolate

While avoiding your triggers and treating with medication can ease the pain and lessen the duration of your headaches, there are other alternatives.


Shutterstock

While you may consider dandelions a pesky weed (you're not wrong), they're also incredibly nutritious, with a long history in traditional herbal medicine. Besides being packed with vitamins and inflammation-fighting antioxidants, dandelion greens may help protect the liver from toxic substances and stress. Plus, they're a natural diuretic so they'll help flush out excess fluids.

Though they are among the most underrated salad greens, you can find them in Mediterranean restaurants, and you can find them as detoxifying teas, too.


4 &ndash Shrimp

Shrimp is high in an antioxidant called astaxanthin. Astaxanthin helps the body fight inflammation, which, in turn, helps your body manage Migraine attacks. Shrimp is also a rich source of vitamins, minerals, and omega fatty acids which also help fight inflammation.

Carrots are nutrient-rich vegetables that are delicious in just about everything.


8 Foods That Help Cure Headaches - Recipes

The first step in the nutritional management of diet-triggered headaches is eating a well-balanced diet. It is especially important to eat three meals a day with a snack at night or 6 small meals spread through out the day. You should include a good protein source at each meal/snack (i.e. milk, meat, fish) and should avoid eating high sugar foods by themselves, especially when excessively hungry. These actions will help to prevent the “hunger headache.”

If you are taking an MAOI drug (i.e Nardil, Parmate) you need to follow a low-tyramine diet.

Individual Food Sensitivities:

People with headache disease vary in their sensitivity to specific foods. Reactions to foods may take anywhere from ½ hour to 72 hours to develop, making them often very difficult to pinpoint. For that reason, it is recommended that you keep a food diary, with columns for time, food(s) eaten and the amounts, and any headache symptoms. You should start with a conservative diet (generally, one that does not include any of the foods in the following lists). You can introduce one new food every three days and determine any patterns/changes in migraine symptoms. This can be quite helpful and is well worth the time and effort.

Please be aware that migraine triggers can have an additive effect. For instance, being overtired is a migraine trigger for many people, so is skipping a meal. If you haven’t gotten enough sleep, then rush through the morning and skip breakfast, you will be much more likely to get amigraine (and that migraineheadache will take up much more time than what you saved in the morning) than if you had missed some sleep but eaten breakfast.

For women only: Many females with migraine diseases are much more sensitive to migraine triggers when they are premenstrual. Foods that may not bother you the week after your period may trigger head pain or migraine the week before your period.

Possible Culprits:

Everyone is unique but there are categories of foods that are more likely to be triggers for migraine than others. They are grouped by similarities of sensitivities (for example, people who find red wine to be a migraine trigger often find chocolate to also trigger migraine).

Caffeine and Similar Compounds

First, caffeine is a stimulant that can alter the effectiveness of many migraine treatment medications. For that reason, caffeine intake should be limited and preferably, consistent. Please note that we are not encouraging anyone who does not use caffeine to start! No more than a 2-serving equivalent of caffeine should be consumed per day (total of <200 mg. caffeine per day). Please see the end of this guide for common sources of caffeine and their content. Because chocolate (except white chocolate) contains caffeine and other chemicals that mimic caffeine’s effects, one serving (1/2 oz. chocolate equivalent) counts as one serving of caffeine.

Secondly, stopping your caffeine intake abruptly can cause caffeine-withdrawal headaches. In some individuals, A Sunday morning migraine may be caused by sleeping later than the time of the usual morning cup of coffee or tea. Others may even wake up in the middle of the night with a caffeine-withdrawal headache because of the drop off in blood levels after consuming caffeine virtually all day long. There is a lot of individual variation in sensitivity and some people do best completely avoiding caffeine.

Food Temperatures

Consuming extremely hot or cold foods may trigger migraine in some individuals (i.e. the “ice-cream headache”). You may need to eat these foods slowly or avoid extremes of food temperatures entirely.

Tyramine Sensitivity

Tyramine is natural by-product of protein breakdown. Its content in food increases as food, especially high protein foods, age. Because it is a naturally-occurring substance and is not added to food, tyramine is not listed on food labels. People taking MAOI medications need to follow a careful, low tyramine diet but other people with migraine may be experience tyramine-induced head pain or migraine.
Foods high in tyramine often are high protein foods that have not been properly stored (the warmer the temperature the faster tyramine accumulates.) All food, especially high protein foods, should be prepared and eaten fresh. Be cautious of leftovers that you want to store for more than 2 or 3 days. Refer to the diet for MAOI users for more details.

Some people get migraine from consuming any alcohol. Others react mostly to red wine (especially Chianti), which is due to a sensitivity to the chemicals, not alcohol, in red wine. People who are sensitive to red wine are often also sensitive to chocolate.

In all cases, please speak with your Physician and/or Pharmacist regarding alcohol intake, as many medications react with alcohol.

The following is a list of some other foods and food ingredients, which people have reported headache sensitivity. This is not an all-inclusive list. You may have sensitivities to foods not listed. You may also have no problems with any or all of the following items:

  • Sulfites
  • Raw onions (Monosodium Glutamate)
  • Aspartame
  • Aged cheeses
  • Citrus fruits and juices (usually, ½ cup per day is not a problem) added to food (note: not the thiamine mononitrate added to bread – that is just a chemical name for Vitamin B1)

Please note that sensitivities are often quantity related and are more likely to be problematic when consumed on an empty stomach – for instance, processed soups containing hydrolyzed yeast (contains some tyramine) and MSG in a variety of foods.

Caffeine Content of Selected Beverages:

Carbonated beverages 12 oz. (regular and sugar-free): 0 – 50 mg.
(Colas, unless marked caffeine free, and Mountain Dew are

50 mg)
Coffee 6 oz.: 100 mg.
(That means a 12 oz. mug is 200 mg.)
Tea 6 oz.: 30-60 mg.
(Caffeine increases with length of brew)
Decaffeinated Tea and Coffee 6 oz.:

Headache Sufferer’s Diet resource: Saint Joseph Hospital, & Diamond Headache Clinic

Additional Notes:
Some people who get migraine headache may experience subtle warning signals 4 to 72 hours before the actual onset of the migraine or aura. These symptoms may include food cravings. While chocolate may trigger migraine in some people there is good evidence to suggest that a patient with migraine may experience a craving for chocolate up to several days before the onset of the migraine. If they eat the chocolate and a migraine occurs, it is natural to assume that the chocolate actually caused the headache. But in reality, both the chocolate cravings and the migraine are caused by the same root problem and the chocolate is not at fault.


Are you tired and have a headache? The fruit is a most energizing food so eat some!

The problem is many try to disguise it by consuming energy drinks and other similar products that might give the illusion of providing “energy” at the moment but don’t benefit their health at all.

Also, it’s socially acceptable to drink coffee and energy drinks but the best way to have enough energy throughout the day is by maintaining good eating habits.

A healthy diet can provide multiple health benefits and help reduce the frequency of those down moments in the routine. Daily physical activity is also great for this purpose.


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Homemade Ginger Tea

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger (more flavorful than sliced ginger use a box grater, cheese grater, or a microplane zester)

1 tablespoon liquid sweetener for flavor (honey or maple syrup)

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (optional)

1. Grate the ginger. If you don&apost have a grater, slice the ginger as thinly as possible and use 2 tablespoon instead of 1.

2. Bring the water to a boil, add the ginger and remove from heat. Let sit for 10 minutes to steep.

3. Strain the ginger and stir in the sweetener and lemon juice.

Why it works: Most of us reach for coffee after a night out, but since it&aposs a diuretic, it&aposll further dehydrate you and can increase how terrible you feel. This ginger tea is a powerful combination of anti-nausea and anti-inflammatory properties. Homemade is best since drinks like ginger ale don&apost actually have enough ginger to help nausea. Adding a little sugar to the tea helps with low-blood sugar, which could also be causing an upset stomach or lightheaded feeling.



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