What food is good for MIGRAINES AND HEADACHES




  • Individual trigger foods such as aged cheeses, processed meats, fermented foods and more


  • Coffee and other caffeinated drinks


  • 29
    5 million Americans are affected by migraines
  • Women are affected by migraines three times as often as men
  • Men, especially heavy smokers or those who frequently drink alcohol, are more commonly affected by cluster headaches
    Headaches afflict about 70% of adults at least occasionally and provoke millions of North Americans each year to seek medical relief
    Most headaches are transient and caused by tension or a temporary condition, such as a cold or the flu, but some reflect a serious underlying problem
    Recurrent headaches warrant medical attention to diagnose the type and determine the best treatment
    A migraine is a one-sided, severe, throbbing or pulsating headache often accompanied by sensitivity to light and sound as well as by nausea and vomiting
    Cluster headaches, the most incapacitating of all headaches, last from 15 minutes to 3 hours and typically occurs in clusters
    Often starting during sleep, they cause excruciating, stabbing pain on one side of the head, usually behind or around one eye
    Tension headaches are the most common type and are caused by muscle contractions or an imbalance of natural chemicals in the brain
    Headaches also may be due to sinusitis, an inflammation of the lining of the sinus cavities
    Another type, called rebound headaches, can result from overuse of over-the-counter analgesics, prescription pain medications and sedatives, and caffeine (which is a common ingredient in such drugs)
    Dental problems can cause very severe one-sided headaches, too
    The many other factors that can cause headaches include squinting for hours in bright sun, eyestrain, hunger, excessive alcohol consumption, and too little or too much sleep
    5 to 10% of children and adolescents are affected by migraines

    Nutrition Connection

    The key to minimizing or avoiding headaches is to avoid the elements that cause them, some of them dietary
    Here are some factors to consider: Avoid common dietary triggers
    Many foods, additives, and other dietary components can cause migraines, but the triggers vary greatly from one person to another
    Keep a food diary, note what foods seem to prompt symptoms, and then eliminate them
    Some common ones include: dairy products, such as aged cheeses; sourdough and other yeasty breads; fermented foods, including pickles; some legumes, especially dried beans, lentils, and soy products; nuts, seeds, and peanut butter; chocolate and cocoa; organ meats and meats that are salted, dried, cured, smoked, or contain nitrites; sardines and anchovies; many fruits, including avocados, bananas, citrus fruits, figs, grapes, pineapples, raspberries, red plums, and raisins; alcohol, especially red wine; seasonings and flavor enhancers, especially artificial sweeteners, ginger, and molasses; sulfites used as preservatives in wine and dried fruits; and monosodium glutamate (MSG)
    Keep blood sugar steady
    Eat regular meals, because hunger or low blood sugar can trigger a headache
    Use coffee to your advantage
    The caffeine in coffee and other beverages—as well as in many over-the-counter analgesic drugs—can play a dual role in migraines
    Regular and excessive ingestion can contribute to the frequency of the headaches
    On the other hand, once you are completely off caffeine, you may be able to use it to fend off an impending attack, because it constricts dilated blood vessels
    At the first sign of an aura or a pain, drink a cup of strong coffee or a cola, take two aspirin, and lie down in a dark, quiet room
    The episode may pass within an hour or so

    Beyond the Diet

    Headaches may be best managed by figuring out the causes and then avoiding them
    Consider the following:
  • Try muscle relaxation techniques
    Meditation, yoga, biofeedback, or guided imagery may all be helpful
  • Take feverfew for migraines
    Take one or two capsules of freeze-dried feverfew daily to reduce headache episodes
    Research shows that regular feverfew intake decreases the frequency and intensity of migraine headaches and accompanying nausea
    It cannot, however, stop an attack that has already started
    Start slowly; feverfew can produce allergic reactions in some people
    If you have no side effects, you can continue this regimen indefinitely
    Consider medications
    A number of medications are available to treat migraines
    Medications used to treat other headaches include acetaminophen, aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen
    For rebound headaches, stop using drugs that contain caffeine