Monday, April 28, 2014

Migraines & Food: What to eat to soothe your headache

Ouch! My head hurts. Pain killers can dull the pain but, wouldn't it be nice to skip the feeling that there is a construction site in your skull. Here are some ways you can eat your way to fewer migraines.

Why & When do Migraines Occur?
According to the Journal of Head and Face Pain (May 18, 2005), migraines are more likely to occur in the spring than any other season. When a person is experiencing stress or the weather changes a migraine is also more likely. Dehydration is major trigger, even for those not prone to migraines. Skipping meals can also trigger migraines, as does eating certain foods.

Foods that May Trigger Migraines:
A quick Google search will identify MSG as a commonly associated food with migraines. According to the Journal of Head and Face Pain (May 20, 2005), MSG is also scientifically supported as a cause of migraines. The difficult part is that MSG is hiding in many things from canned beans, to packaged foods, to soya sauces and condiments, to restaurant food. Look for the following ingredients on packages: MSG, HVP (hydrolyzed vegetable protein), natural flavouring or flavouring. Caffeine may also be a trigger (soda pop, coffee, tea, hot chocolate, chocolate bars, cocoa). 

According to a 2003 study, the following foods may also trigger headaches in children and adolescents: cheese, chocolate, citrus fruits, hot dogs, monosodium glutamate, aspartame, fatty foods, ice cream, caffeine withdrawal. Of note, red wine and beer are also thought to be triggers for migraines. 

How to Get Ride of Your Migraines:
Since you can't avoid weather changes or spring, it can start with simple acts to try to relieve stress. Stress relief can come in many forms: a hot bath, a yoga class, meditation, deep breathing, exercise or avoiding people/situations you find stressful. Drinking more water and trying to eat regularly can also help. As for what you're eating, its a great idea to avoid foods that are known triggers: MSG, caffeine, HVP. 

Migraines may also be triggered by a food allergy. Common food allergies include: egg, beef, pork, peanuts, nuts, fish, shellfish, citrus, chocolate, soda, corn, cinnamon, cow's milk, wheat, rye, barley, soy, legumes, tomato. The Oligoantigenic diet is a diet plan in which you avoid all common food allergies for two week. You eat broccoli and related vegetables (kale, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, collard greens, kohlrabi, rutabaga, and turnips), fruit (choosing one of apples, bananas, or pears - starting with only one fruit is the best way to ensure that the fruit is not the food causing the symptoms, which is sometimes the case). After 3 days, you can add other fruits. 

Seems to much for you? It's worth trying it for a week and seeing what happens. Then, you can you can add in one food a day that you are really missing. This isn't ideal but, if that's all you can do then its better than not trying. But, ONLY add in one food a day, and you MUST keep a food dairy if you're not going to do the full two weeks. When the next headache comes, you'll need an accurate food dairy to look back at - look at the last 3 days to see what foods you've added in. One of those, or a combination of them could be a migraine trigger.  

My Confession:
Argh, I know I'm supposed to drink more water in a day - it helps my joints move better, avoids headaches, is nicer to my kidneys, promotes better detoxing and keeps my wrinkles from looking to prominent. But, sometimes I forget...and, then I get a headache. So, I've kept a glass on top of the water cooler in my house and office to ensure I drink a glass every time I walk by.  

Links to the Studies Mentioned Above:

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