Minimise or stay free from headaches and migraines
Life can get pretty busy and the common headache is sometimes overlooked or masked with a painkiller. A headache is a good indicator that your body is missing something and often a few simple overlooked diet and lifestyle changes can make a huge difference to the frequency and severity of headaches and migraines.
Adopt a headache prevention diet:
- Control blood sugar balance by including a good quality source of protein in every meal, examples includes fish, eggs, poultry, lentils, legumes, avocado, nuts and seeds. Also eat 3 regular meals per day to balance blood sugar levels, with the addition of a protein packed mid-morning and mid-afternoon snack if you get hungry.
- Avoid refined sugars that cause spikes in blood sugar levels, followed by low – hypoglycaemia – which can be a trigger for migraines.
- Inflammation is thought to exacerbate migraine pain so increase your intake of anti-inflammatory omega 3 fats. Omega 3 fatty acids, which are most concentrated in fatty fish, and the monounsaturated fats found in olive oil, have been shown to reduce the frequency, duration and severity of headaches. Other sources include avocado, nuts and seeds.
- Replacing processed foods with freshly prepared. Processed foods contain two common triggers: MSG, a flavour enhancer, and nitrates, a preservative found in certain processed meats, which canboth trigger migraines and headaches.
- Limiting caffeine to no more than 400mg of coffee daily – a typical cup contains 125mg. Going cold turkey from cutting out caffeine can also create withdrawal headaches so it is best to reduce over time, cutting down intake by 25% every few days.
- Cutting down on alcohol. Alcohol not only causes imbalances in blood sugar levels, but vodka and red wines with high histamine contents can be troublesome for some who suffer from migraines and headaches.
- Migraines can be triggered by allergies and may be relieved by identifying the problem foods. Common culprits include salt, milk, tyramine (an amino acid, foods high in tyramine include aged cheeses, cured meats, beers, overripe fruits) and aspartame (a low calorie sweetener).
- Stay hydrated. The dehydrating effects of coffee, sugary drinks and alcohol can often lead to headaches. Drinking 1.5-2 litres of fresh filtered water per day will keep you feeling full, energised and headache free.
- Stress is a big contributor to headaches and migraines, often causing tension in the shoulders and neck which can lead to tension headaches. Gentle yoga can help to release tension in the body as well as calm the nervous system down.
- Consider a detox bath to reduce tension, adding in Epsom bath salts or essential oils for added tension reducing capabilities.
- If you suffer from anxiety, explore some strategies that can help manage this such as talking therapies.
- Light sensitivity can be another common trigger for headaches and migraines. Think about ways in which you can minimize your exposure to artificial light from screens and room lighting.
- Quite smoking! Nicotine causes the blood vessels in your body to narrow, this reduces blood flow to the brain which can trigger a migraine.