A common ailment, around 75% of adults worldwide suffer from headaches. With over 100 different headache varieties, symptoms can vary significantly and sometimes be as severe as anxiety and depression. Luckily, we can make helpful dietary choices, as certain foods can prevent and treat headaches. Here are ten foods that help with headaches.
Headaches are either primary headaches not caused by another medical issue or secondary headaches due to an underlying condition. While the symptoms depend on the type of headache, they usually include throbbing or constant pains in the head or face.
The pain comes from signals in the brain, muscles, and blood vessels, causing surrounding nerves to direct pain signals to the brain. Often headaches are triggered by environmental issues such as weather, smoke, allergens, lighting or odors, eye strain, or dietary choices.
10 Foods That Help with Headaches
Blueberries are fantastic sources of antioxidants, making them a great food to help with sinus headaches. Antioxidants relieve sinus pressure by fighting free radicals while protecting the mucus membrane. When purchasing blueberries, be sure to buy organic if you want to avoid pesticides.
Low magnesium levels in the brain can contribute to migraines. Leafy greens, like spinach, are fantastic sources of magnesium and prevent magnesium-caused migraines.
Mushrooms are high in riboflavin, commonly known as vitamin B2. Riboflavin helps absorption problems in the lower intestine, in addition to a condition called leaky gut, where the intestinal lining isn’t as strong and protective as it should be. Since poor digestive health can cause headaches, treating digestive issues like these can, in turn, help prevent headaches.
Dehydration or even partial dehydration is a leading cause of most headaches. Watermelon is an excellent fruit with a 92% water content to help rehydrate your body and fight dehydration headaches.
5. Pumpkin Seeds
As mentioned earlier, magnesium deficiency can induce a headache. Pumpkin seeds are another excellent form of magnesium. High in fiber, they are also a perfect choice for preventing constipation headaches.
Cherries are yet another superb form of hydration because they are 81% water. Further, cherries contain compounds that contribute to nitric oxide in the bloodstream, fighting and preventing tension headaches.
In addition to helping with hydration, yogurt is a great probiotic. Probiotics boost the immune system and regulate the gut, improving overall health and lessening the chance of a headache. However, eat cautiously or choose a nut-based yogurt because dairy can trigger a headache in some people.
Bananas are a fantastic mid-headache choice because they deliver quick energy. Moreover, they are high in magnesium and a good source of hydration.
9. Black Beans
Black beans are an excellent choice to fight hypoglycemia headaches because black beans can help stabilize glucose levels. Additionally, black beans have a low glycemic load. Due to this, black beans are a preferred food for those with headaches and diabetes.
10. Dark Chocolate
While not without its downsides, chocolate is an excellent immediate fix for a caffeine withdrawal headache. Additionally, it is a good source of magnesium. Pick dark chocolate if you can, as it has higher caffeine content than milk chocolate. Use chocolate cautiously because too much can adversely cause headaches.
Foods That Can Cause Headaches
While many foods help relieve headaches, there are plenty of foods that cause them. Artificial sweeteners such as aspartame (found in sugarless gum), certain food additives like MSG, preservatives found in cured meats, high amounts of tyramine in aged cheeses, and pickled foods often trigger headaches. Even eating frozen foods too quickly or taking too much sodium can lead to a headache.
Drinks and Headaches
Like foods, drinks also can cause, prevent, or fix headaches. Certain teas boost hydration and help with a wide array of headaches. For example, peppermint tea relieves sinus pressure, and ginger tea helps loosen tension headaches. Drinking the daily recommended amount of water is a great way to avoid dehydration headaches. Other drinks, like alcohol, and excessive coffee, can provoke headaches.
When to See a Doctor
While dietary changes influence health and headaches, sometimes you should seek help from a medical professional. When a headache continues to worsen and won’t go away with the use of over-the-counter remedies, or you are experiencing three or more headaches a week, call a doctor.
Additionally, headaches caused by coughing, bending, or exertion are reasons for concern. If you have a history of headaches and your symptoms have recently changed, or the headaches drastically affect your life and work, seek help.