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What Foods and Drinks Help Headaches?
A headache is a common form of pain which may be temporary or for a longer period. Food and drinks play a vital role in headaches. While some may be helpful, some may trigger headaches. If we identify the underlying cause along with foods and drinks that are triggering the headache, we can eliminate them and get relief. Let us have a look at different foods and drinks that may help to relieve headaches along with foods and drinks that you should avoid during headaches.
Foods and Drinks to Relieve Headaches
Doctors usually classify headaches as per the type and location of the pain. Some headaches may be primary and appear on their own, while some may occur due to an underlying health condition. Certain foods and drinks may help relieve headaches or minimise the triggers causing the symptoms of headaches.
Drinking an adequate amount of water is extremely important for our bodies to function properly. Mild dehydration may cause several symptoms including headache. Drinking water can keep the body hydrated and thereby reduce headaches.
Migraine which is one of the most common types of headache can cause intense pain in one side of the head along with some other symptoms. Dehydration is an important reason why people may get migraine attacks. Drinking water can prevent this common trigger of migraine attacks as well as help you stay hydrated during warmer weather. If you cannot drink plain water, you may try fruit-infused water. Add chopped fresh fruit to a glass of water and drink it. This will add taste and provide a nutritional boost.
Many fruits are high in nutrients and antioxidants which can help reduce oxidative stress and fight against free radical damage. Oxidative stress is an important factor in triggering migraine and antioxidants consumed through fruits can help prevent migraine headaches. Berries like blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and strawberries are high in antioxidants that may relieve sinus pressure.
Watermelon has 92 per cent water and consuming watermelon can help you stay hydrated. Moreover, bananas are an excellent source of quick energy as they are high in magnesium and have a good amount of water. Bananas have 74 per cent water which may help to manage the hydration levels in our body and keep you away from headaches.
Magnesium is a vital mineral that can be associated with relieving migraine attacks. Its deficiency may result in irregular nerve transmission which can cause a migraine attack. Fruits like bananas and grapes are excellent sources of magnesium. Hence, they could be beneficial in maintaining other body processes like metabolism and muscle contractions and may prevent migraine attacks.
Vegetables are also a rich and natural source of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Some of the nutritious vegetables that may also help prevent headaches include leafy greens like kale, spinach and chard, carrots, bell peppers, cayenne, sweet potatoes, beets and mushrooms. Headache may appear in some people due to nutrient absorption issues in the lower intestine or due to a leaky gut. Foods like mushrooms which are rich in vitamin B2 also known as riboflavin may help prevent migraines.
Women may experience menstrual migraine or severe headaches due to hormonal changes. Estrogen levels may fall just before menstruation begins and this can trigger a migraine attack. Intake of cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, Brussels sprouts and bok choy can help women to control the effects of estrogen levels. These vegetables have phytoestrogens which are hormonally active compounds. These compounds may control the estrogen levels in the body and thereby prevent menstruation migraine.
Caffeine can narrow the blood vessels as it has a natural vasoconstrictive property. A small amount of caffeine may help some types of headaches as blood vessels tend to enlarge before we get a headache. Caffeinated foods like coffee, black tea, green tea, chocolate, soda and certain energy drinks and sports drinks may ease symptoms of headache as they have caffeine. However, we should be careful not to consume too much caffeine. It is also possible that caffeine may trigger headaches in some people. Also, headaches may develop in some people when the effect of the caffeine wears off.
Tea can be of many types and certain types may relieve symptoms of headaches. Usually, herbal teas maintain the hydration levels of our body and help reduce symptoms of headaches. Peppermint tea can help relieve sinus congestion and pressure which can thereby reduce headache pain. Peppermint oil is used as a topical treatment for tension headaches according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH). Breathing in the aroma or drinking peppermint tea can help minimise the throbbing head pain in migraine.
Furthermore, ginger tea may also provide relief for migraine episodes. Two important symptoms of migraine are nausea and vomiting and the spicy taste of ginger can help in reducing these symptoms.
Feverfew is also a herb which can potentially help alleviate symptoms of a migraine attack. This herb which is derived from a flowering plant can be brewed into tea some healthcare experts may recommend it in capsule form. However, pregnant or breastfeeding women are advised to avoid this herb. In addition to this, if you have a history of allergies, always consult your doctor before drinking feverfew tea for migraine.
Food and Drinks to Avoid in Headaches
Foods and drinks that may trigger headaches or make them worse can be different for different people. The best way to find the potential trigger is to keep maintaining a food journal and write down all the foods you ate the previous day. You can notice a pattern and identify the foods and drinks that may act as a trigger in your case. Some foods and drinks that may trigger headaches include −
Dairy products like milk, cheese, yoghurt etc.
Food additives like sulfites, nitrites, aspartame and monosodium glutamate (MSG)
Certain lifestyle and dietary changes can relieve headaches. Maintaining a healthy nighttime routine, eating your meals at the right time, never skipping any meals, going for aromatherapy or massage therapy to reduce stress and performing yoga and breathing exercises may help to minimise symptoms of headache.
Identifying the reason behind your headache occurrence can help you stay away from the foods and drinks that may be the reason. However, if you are experiencing headaches regularly, consult your healthcare provider immediately to diagnose and treat the health condition.
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