The right diet can help to beat a headache, says Liz Connor
WHEN you’re the unsuspecting victim of a headache, the pain can be so intense, it feels as though it’s penetrating your brain. Thankfully, most headaches will go away on their own, and aren’t a sign of anything serious. In severe cases, though, they can linger for days, causing vomiting, sensitivity to light and visual problems.
By better understanding how your brain works, you can find techniques to nip the torture in the bud.
Here, registered nutritionist Dora Walsh explains the types of pain associated with headaches and migraines, and how what you eat and drink can help soothe them. Tension headache “The most common type of headache is called a tension headache,” says Walsh. “It’s usually characterised by a dull, pressured pain on both sides of the head and forehead — and you may also feel it in the shoulders and neck.
“It’s important to note that if you’re suffering with any type of headache, ensure you’re drinking plenty of water to stay hydrated and maintain consistent blood sugar levels by eating regular meals. Avoid alcohol, too, as it will make the pain worse.” Head pain that’s simply throbbing A severe throbbing pain in your head is probably a signal you have a migraine coming on.
“Scientists have discovered that hormones, serotonin and oestrogen, may cause inflammation of blood vessels, leading to the pulsing pain,” says Walsh.
She explains that while the cause of headaches and migraines are still a bit of a mystery, it’s clear that certain foods may trigger them. The types of food that bring on pain can vary from person to person though.
“To help identify your triggers, try and keep a food diary to record [what you eat] and how you feel afterwards so you can spot any patterns around the times when the next migraine strikes.” Headaches that cause vision problems If you’re experiencing lines that cross your vision or patches are blurry, then you may be experiencing an aura — a symptom that often precedes the pain of a migraine.
“Magnesium deficiency has been linked to headaches and migraines. And studies have shown that magnesium oxide may help to prevent migraines with auras, so it’s important to get enough magnesium in your diet,” says Walsh. “You can try by increasing magnesium-rich foods to your diet, like nuts and seeds, while eggs and milk are also good sources.” Headaches and nausea Research has shown that people who regularly experience gastrointestinal symptoms — such as reflux or diarrhoea — have a higher rate of headaches, and that migraines may actually slow down the digestive system.
“It’s the undigested food sitting in the stomach that may be to blame for the nausea you’re feeling, which can lead to vomiting. This may also be the reason why so many migraine sufferers lose their appetite.”
To help relieve the nausea, Walsh suggests gently sipping water, ginger or peppermint tea, and try nibbling on neutral foods such as dry crackers or toast.
Migraine sufferers that experience severe physical effects should always speak to a pharmacist or their GP, to help manage the symptoms more effectively.
HEAD PAIN: What you eat and drink can help soothe the aches.