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Foods That Are Good For Headaches

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You Already Avoid Migraine Food Triggers But What About The Food You Do Eat Consider Adding These Foods That Can Help Migraine To Your Healthful Diet

Best Foods for Migraines | Dr. Neal Barnard

You already know there are foods that are considered bad for migraine, but what about focusing on foods that are actually good for migraine? Just as some foods can trigger migraine attacks we’re looking at you, red wine, artificial sweeteners, cured meats, caffeine, aged cheeses, and food preservatives other foods can help protect you from attacks, and even soothe you during them and help you heal after them.

Some research suggests that adding specific foods to your diet can actually help build up your defenses against migraine. That’s because certain vitamins and minerals play important roles in controlling inflammation, modulating blood pressure, and maintaining homeostasis.

As nutritionist Joy Bauer, RDN, says, “Food is never going to be the cure-all, but there are compounds in foods antioxidants and anti-inflammatories and vitamins and minerals that really do have potent effects.”

What Foods Can Help Prevent Migraines

Eating a healthful diet can help prevent migraines. A healthful diet should consist of fresh foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins.

Fresh foods are less likely to have added food preservatives, such as monosodium glutamate . Preservatives can trigger migraines in some people, so avoiding foods that contain them can help.

The Association of Migraine Disorders have created a list of migraine safe foods to guide a persons food choices. These foods generally do not contain preservatives, yeasts, flavorings, and other substances that are potential migraine triggers, such as nitrites and phenylalanine.

Below, we look at which foods to eat and avoid within a range of food groups:

What Is A Migraine

Migraine affects nearly 38 million people in the U.S. While throbbing head pain is the most widely-recognized symptom, other symptoms can include fatigue, nausea, and sensitivity to light and sound. When a migraine hits, the last thing on your mind might be food. Turns out, there are some foods that can actually help ease the pain of migraine while soothing other common symptoms.

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Watch What You Drink Too

You may have heard that red wine causes migraines, but other alcoholic drinks like beer, champagne, and hard liquor can also make your head pound. Certain ingredients in alcohol cause chemicals and blood vessels in your brain to act in an unusual way. You donât need to spend all night at a bar for this to happen. For some people, one boozy drink can be enough to trigger a headache.

Caffeine can cause headaches. But it isnât wise to go cold turkey on your favorite drinks. That could lead to a withdrawal headache. Instead, you may need to limit your caffeine intake to no more than 200 milligrams a day. Thatâs about one small cup of coffee. Remember, it isnât just hot drinks and some sodas that have caffeine. Chocolate has some, too.

Does Food Really Trigger Migraine Attacks

Headache Argh! Eat These 9 Foods For Fast Headache Relief

Of course, the relationship between food and migraine isnât clear-cut, and unfortunately, no single factor can be directly tied to your attacks. That said, there’s scientific evidence that suggests attacks may be triggered by certain foods. Additionally, 27% of those who experience migraine believe that particular foods are personally triggering.

According to Dr. Sara Crystal, clinical neurologist and Cove Medical Director, certain foods and additives are more likely to trigger headaches in a higher percentage of migraineurs, but even among individuals, other factors like stress, hormonal changes, and lack of sleep can increase the likelihood of an attack after consuming a known trigger.

So, without further ado, hereâs a list of the most common food triggers for migraine sufferers, in no particular order.

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Sometimes Its Not About How Much Youre Eating But What Youre Filling Your Body With

Headaches can be caused by undereating, but if youve been munching away on snacks all day and still get hit with a pounding headache, then it could indicate youre lacking in something else. According to Cheat Sheet, complex carbohydrates can prevent spikes in blood sugar, a huge cause of headaches, while also being a rich source of fiber, which can keep you full for longer.

What Type Of Food Causes Migraines

The type of food you eat could also cause migraines to happen. Some of the biggest migraine triggers are:


Preserved meat

Fermented food

While they vary in how and why they cause migraines, most of the time its because these foods cause your blood vessels to dilate. Many of these items also contain high amounts of tyramine which can adjust your brain chemicals and lead to migraines.

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How Do You Identify Your Triggers

So how do you know which of these foods are actually triggering your attacks? Since food affects all migraine sufferers differently, the best thing you can do is examine your eating habits and identify patterns that could be potential triggers. By slowly eliminating foods one-by-one, you can start to recognize what spurs your headaches. Food allergy testing can also be helpful, though you should still be wary of certain foods even if you arenât allergic to them.

To keep track of your habits, Dr. Crystal recommends keeping a careful food diary for at least one month to record what you do and donât eat. If something is a trigger, an attack will likely hit 12 to 24 hours post-consumption. Youâll be able to trace the pain back to the sourceâor at the very least, narrow it down.

We know reading this might make you feel like youâll have to start living off of nothing but water if you want to avoid debilitating pain, but itâs important to remember that not all of these foods are triggers for every sufferer . Migraine is personal, and the only way to learn your specific triggers is to track your migraine, make one adjustment at a time, and see what helps.

And, of course, not all foods are your enemy. Check out this article for a list of migraine-safe foods or this roundup of migraine-safe recipes.

Do Ketones Nourish Cells Differently From Glucose

Got migraines? These are the foods to eat (and avoid) | Your Morning

Yes, ketones and glucose nourish cells in different ways.

The ketone body beta-hydroxybutyrate is the most abundant ketone found in the body, and its a valuable energy source for the brain, heart, liver, and other tissues. Because it is so readily available, BHB can be used to fuel many of these organs and cells at once.

In contrast, glucose is primarily used by the energy-hungry brain to power its ongoing operations. One reason why ketone bodies are so powerful as fuel for tissues is that theyre less likely than glucose to cause insulin resistance or other metabolic problems when ingested.

So although both ketones and glucose provide energy from within our bodies cells, they do so in very different ways, and this fact is reflected in the way each of them nourishes those cells.

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Speaking Of Potassium Watermelons Are Also Bursting With These Electrolytes

Watermelons are also rich in water, which means if your headache is the result of dehydration, this juicy fruit can serve a double whammy against that niggling pain. Whether you choose to eat the fruit straight or add it in a smoothie with other water-rich food, watermelons are a sure way to fight the discomfort.

What Can Trigger A Migraine Attack

Those who suffer from reoccurring migraines often become familiar with their particular triggers. While not every migraine sufferer experiences the same triggers, some are more common than others. Migraines can occur during times of heightened stress or if a person experiences a change in sleep patterns. Spending hours in front of the computer or another blue light device can trigger a migraine too. Significant stress at work has also been shown to cause migraines.

Drinking too much caffeine or indulging in too much alcohol can also cause migraines. Recent studies have shown a correlation between red wine and migraines. A change in seasons or barometric pressure can also affect migraines, which is why many migraine sufferers tend to report more episodes during the spring and summer seasons.

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Add Magnesium To Your Diet

Magnesium is a great nutrient to add to your migraine diet. It can help with increasing energy, calming anxiety, and relieving digestive issues. It also has been shown to prevent and soothe migraine headaches of all types. Try adding spinach, quinoa, and whole grains to your diet as they are high in magnesium and other essential nutrients. If you cant seem to fit in enough, magnesium supplements are an excellent alternative.

Soothe Pain With A Cold Compress

Spicy Food Headache

Using a cold compress may help reduce your headache symptoms.

Applying cold or frozen compresses to the neck or head area decreases inflammation, slows nerve conduction and constricts blood vessels, all of which help reduce headache pain .

In one study in 28 women, applying a cold gel pack to the head significantly reduced migraine pain .

To make a cold compress, fill a waterproof bag with ice and wrap it in a soft towel. Apply the compress to the back of the neck, head or temples for headache relief.

Coenzyme Q10 is a substance produced naturally by the body that helps turn food into energy and functions as a powerful antioxidant .

Studies have shown that taking CoQ10 supplements may be an effective and natural way to treat headaches.

For example, one study in 80 people demonstrated that taking 100 mg of CoQ10 supplements per day reduced migraine frequency, severity and length .

Another study including 42 people who experienced frequent migraines found that three 100-mg doses of CoQ10 throughout the day helped decrease migraine frequency and migraine-related symptoms like nausea (

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Spinach Could Help Migraines Go Away

This dark leafy green vegetable is particularly rich in magnesium. One cup of cooked spinach contains 157 milligrams, making it an easy and excellent way to start increasing the magnesium levels in your diet. Add spinach to your scrambled eggs in the morning, toss some baby spinach into your salad at lunch, or make sautéed spinach with garlic as a side for dinner.

What Is A Low

A low-carb diet is a diet that restricts the number of carbohydrates you eat.

Carbohydrates contain energy, and when you eat carbohydrates, your body turns them into glucose which gets stored in the liver and muscles as glycogen.

Glucose is used as a source of energy for your body to perform different functions. When you restrict your intake of carbohydrates, your body turns to fat stores to provide energy.

For some people, this may mean a reduced intake of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables while increasing protein intake . Others may want to avoid processed foods such as white bread or white pasta with sauces made from flour or corn syrup.

A low-carbohydrate diet may not be right for everyone its important that you talk with your doctor before starting any new diet plan.

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Diet For People With Headache Disorders

Diet, Headache Education, Headache Sufferers’ Diet, Headache Triggers

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 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 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 eaten and the amounts, and any headache symptoms. You should start with a conservative diet . 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.

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:

Caffeine and Similar Compounds

Food Temperatures

Tyramine Sensitivity


If You Enjoy The Spicier Side Of Life Youll Like This Tip

Worst Foods to Eat with Migraines (Dietary Triggers)

For headaches due to sinus congestion, spicy food like salsa and hot peppers can be your one-way ticket to a blissful headache-free life. Spicy snacks open up airways and take the pressure off your sinuses. But take this advice with a grain of spice, because depending on the food and the headache, spicy food can also trigger a full-blown headache. So dont go overboard the first time you try this one out!

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Managing A Headache With Good Food Choices

The Cleveland Clinic notes that most information about food that triggers headaches was gathered from people self-reporting their experiences. There have been research studies conducted in the past, and many ongoing right now. The challenge for researchers is that each case is different. The first step is avoiding foods that are known to trigger headaches. Should a headache develop, there are foods that may spur a faster recovery period.

Knowing what to eat when your head hurts can help you make good choices. The most common foods and drinks that have been reported to help headaches include:

  • Fresh fruits, especially brightly colored ones high in antioxidants
  • Low sodium foods
  • A small cup of coffee for a caffeine headache

Avoid consuming processed foods, aged cheeses, smoked or dried fish, cultured dairy products, high sodium foods like potato chips and foods high in carbohydrates and sugar. Sometimes, headache relief comes from knowing what not to eat.

Drink Caffeinated Tea Or Coffee

Sipping on beverages that contain caffeine, such as tea or coffee, may provide relief when you are experiencing a headache.

Caffeine improves mood, increases alertness and constricts blood vessels, all of which can have a positive effect on headache symptoms .

It also helps increase the effectiveness of common medications used to treat headaches, such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen .

However, caffeine withdrawal has also been shown to cause headaches if a person regularly consumes large amounts of caffeine and suddenly stops.

Therefore, people who get frequent headaches should be mindful of their caffeine intake .

Certain herbs including feverfew and butterbur may reduce headache symptoms.

Feverfew is a flowering plant that has anti-inflammatory properties.

Some studies suggest that taking feverfew supplements in doses of 50150 mg per day may reduce headache frequency. However, other studies have failed to find a benefit .

Butterbur root comes from a perennial shrub native to Germany and, like feverfew, has anti-inflammatory effects.

Several studies have shown that taking butterbur extract in doses of 50150 mg reduces headache symptoms in both adults and children .

Feverfew is generally considered safe if taken in recommended amounts. However, butterbur should be treated with caution, as unpurified forms can cause liver damage, and the effects of its long-term use are unknown (

Foods containing them have been shown to trigger headaches in some people.

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Best Foods For Headaches

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Headache is a very common problem that most of us experience from time to time. While there are many over-the-counter medications available to treat headaches, certain foods can also provide relief.

According to the WHO, Globally, it is estimated that the prevalence among adults of current headache disorder is about 50%. Half to three-quarters of adults aged 1865 years in the world have had headaches in the last year and, among those individuals, 30% or more have reported migraine.

Some people find that certain foods trigger their headaches, while others find that certain foods help to relieve them. If you are looking for natural ways to treat your headaches, here are some of the best foods for headaches to eat:

How To Identify Food Triggers

The 8 Best Foods for Migraines

As food triggers can vary from person to person, the best way for a person to find their potential triggers is to keep a food journal, logging all the foods they eat each day.

When a headache occurs, the person can refer to the journal to see what foods they were eating around that time.

Not everyone will find headache relief by avoiding certain foods. Other natural ways to avoid or get rid of headaches include:

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Morning Pickup Or Daily Grind

Caffeine can help treat migraine headaches. Patients often report that coffee or soda helps reduce head pain. Caffeine is also a common ingredient in over-the-counter headache medicines. Many patients note that medicines with caffeine are more helpful than those without. However, caffeine is a drug, and like many other drugs, it can cause problems when overused. Caffeine can be useful when used infrequently, but using it daily can lead to medication overuse headaches, which are also known as rebound headaches. Using more than 100 mg of caffeine daily is a known risk factor for developing daily headache.

Some suggestions for caffeine use in migraine patients:

  • Episodic migraine patients should limit caffeine intake to one or two beverages daily .
  • Patients with daily headaches should consider avoiding caffeine completely.
  • Limit the use of caffeine-containing medications to no more than two days a week.
  • Reduce caffeine intake slowly, by 25% each week, to avoid caffeine withdrawal symptoms.
  • The amount of caffeine in different brands and types of coffee varies widely, from 133mg of caffeine in a large McDonalds brew to 415mg in a venti Starbucks. The same is true for different medicines. Consider using an online calculator or talking to your doctor when figuring out your daily caffeine use.
  • Caffeine is probably not the only cause of frequent migraines, but reducing caffeine will often help improve headache.

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