We have all suffered from a headache, whether it was because of illness, caffeine withdrawal, dehydration or stress.
However, some of us suffer from recurring headaches regularly, which are at the best annoying and at the worse debilitating.
When this happens, the easiest solution is to take a painkiller to make the pain go away. In most cases, this works, but it does not solve the underlying problem that is causing these headaches.
I always believe in looking at the root cause of the problem. Wouldn’t it be better to understand the cause of your headache so you can prevent them in the future?
I used to suffer from migraines when I was younger. In recent months I have suffered from frequent headaches because of poor posture caused by spending hours sitting in front of my laptop. I worked out the problem and have now taken steps to improve my posture and the headaches have disappeared.
There are many types of headaches. The most common are tension headaches, migraine, hormonal headaches, sinus headaches, dehydration headaches, cluster headaches and post-traumatic headaches.
Often food intolerances can trigger headaches. The most common being wheat or cow’s milk.
Read on to find out more about the different headaches, foods to avoid and foods to include in your diet which will help, along with other useful tips.
Different types of headaches
This is a very common headache that can happen when we are stressed or anxious. It causes the muscles in our neck and scalp to contract or become tense. They are more common among adults and usually begin mildly then worsens in the middle of the day. You may feel that constant dull ache on both sides of your head, or you may feel as though there is a tight band pressing against your head.
Migraines are very common, affecting around 1 in every 5 women and around 1 in every 15 men. There are different types and food intolerances that can trigger some. Other causes can be stress or hormones. They usually occur on one side of the head and are often accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and extreme sensitivity to light and sound. They can last anything from several hours to days and tend to stop everyday activities because of the need to lie down in a dark room and avoid screens.
I know I always mention how important it is to drink 2 litres of water a day and this is another reason to do so! Often when you don’t drink enough water, it will cause a headache.
These types of headaches cause severe pain on one side of the head, often around the eyes. They are more common among men. The onset is quick and often painful, causing a piercing pain on one side of the head. The causes can be genetic, due to high alcohol consumption or smoking.
Your sinuses are air-filled spaces located inside your cheekbones, forehead and behind the bridge of your nose. When they get inflamed, they produce more mucus and the channels that drain them become blocked, which causes pressure causing pain and resulting in a headache. The most common cause of inflammation is food intolerances.
These are very common in women around their menstrual cycle. Oestrogen controls chemicals in the brain that can affect the sensation of pain. A drop in oestrogen levels can trigger a headache. Many women suddenly experience more headaches in perimenopause and menopause because of fluctuating hormones.
Occipital misalignment can trigger headaches. The occipital bone is at the base of the back of the skull. Misalignment because of injury can cause pressure and restriction in the neck, resulting in headaches.
If you have suffered an accident to your head or severe trauma, it can trigger headaches. If this is the case, then see your GP or health provider.
Foods to limit which can help
There are many foods associated with intolerances that can cause headaches.
The most common are:
- Dairy especially, cheese
- Alcohol, especially Red wine
- Chocolate of any kind
- Caffeine drinks
- Fizzy drinks
- Food additives and food colourings, especially MSG
If you suffer from regular headaches, it’s a good idea to keep a food diary and make a note of how you feel after eating certain foods. That way you will get an idea of which foods trigger the headaches, what to avoid and what to include. You may also want to visit your GP to rule out anything sinister.
Foods to include to avoid headaches
As well as cutting out some of the above, you can introduce foods that help avoid headaches.
Eat more papaya and pineapple which aids digestion. Good digestion means your body gets rid of toxins and absorbs nutrients easier, which results in overall good health. Taking a digestive enzyme before meals can also help.
Include more anti-inflammatory foods like turmeric and ginger into your diet. You can make your own teas with both, or add to smoothies and fresh juices. You can also take turmeric in capsule form.
It’s important to add black pepper to turmeric as it helps absorb it into your body.
Drink more water! 2 litres a day as dehydration can trigger a headache (I know I already mentioned this – that’s how important it is!).
Statistics show that people who include healthy grains like quinoa, brown rice, amaranth and oats have fewer migraines.
Include more omega-3 seeds like flax seeds, sesame, pumpkin, linseeds and chia seeds sprinkled on cereals and porridge.
Avoid pesticides so where you can eat organic fruit and vegetables.
Other useful tips to avoid headaches
People who often suffer from migraines are often low in magnesium. Magnesium is a nutrient that the body needs to stay healthy. It supports many processes in the body, including regulating muscle and nerve function, blood sugar levels, and blood pressure. It is also nature’s natural tranquillizer and helps to relax blood vessels so that oxygen and nutrients can get to the brain.
B vitamins are vital in preventing headaches. I would recommend a B complex from a good health shop.
Low blood sugar can also lead to a headache, so try to eat regularly every 3-4 hours. If you go long periods without foods, this can trigger a headache.
Exercise is good as it stimulates circulation, and yoga is also very good to help with stress and anxiety.
Make sure you are sitting properly at your desk and if working on your laptop, remember it should be eye level so invest in a stand (see my blog about good posture).
It’s a good idea now and then to check everything is in alignment with your body. You can visit a chiropractor who can assess, diagnose, and manage headaches.
I hope this helped. I would love to hear of anything else you have found works with combating regular headaches, and if you have questions, please get in touch.