Preventing a headache is better than treating one, and this often involves a nutritional component, especially for migraines.
10 Foods That Trigger A Headache/Migraine
Food triggers vary from person to person, but each of the foods below has the potential to cause a migraine in someone who’s sensitive.17
- Alcohol, especially red wine
- Caffeinated beverages (as mentioned, this is a double-edged sword, sometimes helping, and sometimes hurting headache pain)
- Aged cheeses, including Gorgonzola, Camembert, cheddar and others
- Cured or processed meats like hot dogs, sausages and lunch meats
- Monosodium glutatmate (MSG), which is common in processed foods
- Aspartame, the artificial sweetener
- Citrus fruits, although this is rare
- Legumes, such as beans, peas and lentils (this is a less common trigger)
- Nuts (reported by some anecdotally but the link isn’t well-studied
- Chocolate, this is another potential trigger that is still being substantiated
If you suffer from migraines, in order to successfully treat the underlying cause you need to “regenerate your cellular batteries”—your cells’ mitochondria—and one way to do that is by taking coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10). The reduced form, ubiquinol, tends to work best for most people. According to Cohen:
“CoQ10 is fantastic … It’s an antioxidant that’s both lipophilic and hydrophilic, meaning, it loves water and loves fatty parts of the cell. It goes into every single cell all over your body, especially your brain and your heart. You know if you’re CoQ10-deficient because you’re more prone to headaches. Plus, a prolonged deficiency of CoQ10 can cause significant muscle pain as well as headaches.
Now, here’s the thing: people are seriously deficient in CoQ10 because there are so many drugs that deplete this nutrient, including the birth control pill, hormone replacements, antacids, diabetes drugs, and statins. These drugs deplete CoQ10.”
Cohen also states that about 50 percent of those with recurrent headaches are deficient in magnesium. So increase your consumption of green leafy vegetables, which are rich in bioavailable magnesium. Spirulina is another good source. As an aside, one study found that the scent significantly relieved migraine pain. This may also work with other scents that you enjoy, so consulting with an aromatherapist might be beneficial.
Are Asthma And Allergies Causing Your Headaches?
Both migraines and asthma are caused by inflammation (of the blood vessels, for migraines, and of the airways, for asthma). Those who have migraines and asthma are at double the risk of developing chronic migraines, according to new research.18The study, published in Headache, concluded:19
“Asthma is associated with an increased risk of new onset CM [chronic migraine] one year later among individuals with EM [episodic migraine], with the highest risk being among those with the greatest number of respiratory symptoms. The exact mechanisms underlying this association are unknown, but could suggest mast cell degranulation, autonomic dysfunction, or shared genetic or environmental factors.”
The underlying connection between asthma and migraines could be allergies. Allergies are more common in people with asthma and people with headaches, and the researchers suggested that treating allergies more aggressively might help. If you have asthma and/or allergies, optimizing your vitamin D levels is absolutely crucial.
In fact, research suggests that vitamin D deficiency may be a primary underlying cause of asthma. Vitamin D deficiency can also play a role in migraines. According to research presented at the 50th Annual Meeting of the American Headache Society, nearly 42 percent of patients with chronic migraine were deficient in vitamin D.20 The study also showed that the longer you suffered from chronic migraines, the more likely you are to be vitamin D deficient.
Other vitamin deficiencies linked to headaches include vitamins B2 (riboflavin), B6, B12, and folate. Aside from addressing health basics like diet and vitamin D, Provocation Neutralization (PN) allergy testing and treatment offers many allergy sufferers permanent relief without adverse side effects. The success rate for this approach is about 80 to 90 percent, and you can receive the treatment at home.
See other causes and remedy for headache/migraine.
Seven Tips To Avoid Holiday Headaches
Stress and other headache triggers can be especially apparent during the holidays. The National Headache Foundation suggests the following tips to avoid headaches during the holidays (and all year long):
- Maintain your sleep schedule. Forgoing sleep for holiday parties can worsen chronic headaches and migraines. Try to go to sleep and wake up at the same time each day.
- Eat according to your regular meal schedule. While skipping a meal (i.e. intermittent fasting) is beneficial for many, it can trigger a headache in some people. Stick to your regular meal schedule while you’re trying to get your headaches under control.
- Avoid “hangover” headaches. If you drink alcohol during the holiday season, be sure to do so only in moderation. And if you suffer from migraines, be aware that red wine is a trigger for many.
- Watch what you eat. Many food-related headache triggers can be found at holiday parties. This includes chocolate, processed meats, aged cheeses, MSG, aspartame, and more.
- Avoid fragrance triggers. Perfume, scented candles, and other odors can trigger headaches in those who are sensitive. Watch out for such fragrances while shopping, visiting friends and relatives, etc.
- Be aware of bright lights. For some, bright Christmas lights, especially those that flicker, may trigger a migraine. If you’ll be around such holiday decorations, consider wearing sunglasses to dampen their effects.
- Set aside “me” time. Taking time for yourself is essential during the holidays, when stress is typically at an all-time high.
This article was originally published on DrMercola.com and is republished here with permission.