It is probably not news to the majority of migraine sufferers that most of us are in some way affected by the foods we eat. It can get complicated – some foods we know are triggers for us, and yet on some – more rare – occasions, we can eat that same food with no reaction……go figure!
Foods most likely to trigger migraines (and even some types of headaches) include wheat, milk, cheese, chocolate, coffee, sugar, peanuts, pork and chemical additives and preservatives.
The good new is that some foods do not cause or irritate headaches or migraines, and some foods can even help prevent or alleviate headaches and migraines.
So here’s the deal – many adults have unknown food allergies. Did you know that a high percentage of headaches – and even migraines – involve food intolerances? You have probably experienced for yourself what many migraine sufferers have also experienced – fewer headaches after eliminating foods they hadn’t even realized they were allergic to!
When it comes to eating whole grains, then can be extremely helpful in the prevention of headaches and migraines. That’s because the fiber content helps maintain balanced blood sugar levels. Fluctuating blood sugar can cause migraines and headaches. If you eat breakfast that includes magnesium-rich oatmeal or whole-grain cereals,that’s a great way to prevent migraines. The American Family of Physicians reports that people who have migraines or cluster headaches often have low levels of magnesium. As a preventative then, choose some grains that are rich in magnesium.
Fish and Meat
Salmon, mackerel and trout are fatty fish that contain large amounts of essential fatty acids. These fatty acids reduce your body’s production of the hormones that cause inflammation and pain and help prevent and alleviate the pain of migraines and headaches. Also, Vitamin B6 is found in tuna, turkey, chicken and beef liver (if you can tolerate liver). This increases serotonin levels in the brain and acts as an anti-depressant and neurotransmitter that can lower the risk of continued pain. As a result, you may find that Vitamin B6 is useful in reducing headaches and fatigue.
Nuts, Seeds and Legumes
The magnesium found in almonds, cashews, brown rice, black beans, peas and other legumes has been shown to help relax blood vessels. In turn, this can protect your body from painful headaches and migraines. For example, sesame seeds are rich in vitamin E and help balance estrogen levels and improve circulation. As a result, they may help prevent migraines from occurring during your menstrual cycle. Sesame seeds are also a good source of magnesium, which, as we discussed above, acts as a migraine and headache preventative.
We have talked before about the effect dehydration can have on you as a migraine sufferer. Dehydration is a major cause of migraines and headaches. I recommend drinking plenty of water and eating foods that contain water – such as watermelon. Water that is naturally found in fruits and vegetables contains magnesium and other essential minerals that are beneficial for migraine prevention. Fruits with plenty of vitamins, minerals or high water content, such as berries, cucumber, melon, tomatoes, grapefruit, cantaloupe, apricots, papaya, peaches and cherries, may also help ease headache pain. Also, consider fresh pineapple. It contains water and is also a source of bromelain – an enzyme with anti-inflammatory properties that may reduce your pain. Also, the potassium in bananas – as long as bananas aren’t a trigger for you – and the magnesium in apples and avocados, make them great fruits for you to eat when you have a headache. Another couple of great home remedy options for migraine and headache pain would be herbal tea with lemon slices or home-made ginger tea.
Spices and Seasonings
There are so many herbs, spices and seasonings that have a positive effect on migraines and headaches. Marjoram, when consumed as tea, can help relieve migraine and headache pain. Cinnamon and rosemary both help prevent or lessen headaches. Ginger root has anti-inflammatory qualities that help your body reduce the inflammation and swelling that can lead to headaches and migraines.
Caution: You should stay away from foods that contain nitrates which are found in processed meats and other foods, as well as MSG – used in seasonings and spice mixes. These additives are migraine triggers.
When you think of foods and choices, the fresh food choice is always the best. Processed foods are not migraine-friendly. Using a migraine diary is always very helpful in shedding light on what foods your body processes best, and which foods to stay away from.