Chronic headaches or migraines affect 29.5 million people. Because it is so common, many believe that the environment must play a large role. I would agree. Nutritionally, it seems that many foods can act as suppressants or as triggers. Often individuals can identify potential triggers but may not know what foods can help.
- Aged cheese
- Dried fruit
- Red Wine
- Artificial sweeteners (splenda, aspartame, etc)
- Preservatives in food, in particular benzoic acid
- Nitrites found in ham or bacon or other processed meats
- Food coloring
- Cigarette or cigar smoke
- Eat small, frequent meals that are well balanced. Avoid eating high sugar foods on an empty stomach.
- Eat foods freshly cooked. As foods age, they can increase in tyrosine.
- Eat foods rich in magnesium such as black beans, peanuts, seeds, scallops, halibut, vegetables (broccoli, okra and spinach in particular), soy milk, tofu and enriched grains such as bran cereals and breads. If migraines are severe, try to eat a serving of a magnesium rich food at each meal.
- Migraines often are brought on by inflammation and healthy fats can help to fight inflammation. Try to include a healthy fat at each meal. Examples include avocados, olive oil, canola oil, olives and nuts.
- Stay well hydrated. Be sure to keep a water bottle with you always and drink often. If you find yourself thirsty, you are already dehydrated.
To find what foods are triggers for you, it may be helpful to keep a food journal. Once you notice a headache forming, it will be easy to see what you have eaten recently and over time you will see a pattern forming. With that knowledge comes the ability to lessen the frequency of your headaches.