When you have a headache, the last thing you want to do is think about what you can and cannot eat. However, certain foods can actually help to ease the pain, while others will make it worse. At Associated in Neurology, we try to provide the best solutions to neurological problems, including headache. To save you the trouble of trial and error, we’ve compiled a list of the 5 best and 5 worst foods to eat when you have a headache.
Foods Good for a Headache
- Ginger – Ginger has long been used as an herbal remedy for headaches due to its powerful anti-inflammatory properties. Ginger helps block prostaglandins, compounds known to cause inflammation and pain in the body. Try adding some fresh ginger root or ground ginger powder into smoothies or teas for relief from headaches.
- Leafy Greens – Dark leafy greens, like spinach and kale, are rich in B vitamins, which help boost energy levels while also providing essential nutrients like magnesium needed for healthy nerve function, which can help combat headaches caused by stress or fatigue. Enjoy them steamed, sautéed, or raw in salads!
- Salmon – Salmon is packed with omega-3 fatty acids, which may reduce inflammation that contributes to headaches. Studies have shown that people who consume more omega-3s may experience fewer headaches compared to those who don’t get enough of these essential fatty acids in their diet.
- Yogurt – Yogurt contains probiotics that help promote healthy digestion and can help reduce bloating and nausea often associated with headaches. It is also high in calcium and B vitamins, both of which play a role in reducing inflammation throughout the body, including the brain. Additionally, yogurt has been found to help calm nerves, as well as improve mood, which could potentially ease tension headaches or migraine pain caused by stress or anxiety.
- Bananas – Not only are bananas a great source of potassium, which helps reduce muscle tension and cramps, but they also contain tryptophan, an amino acid that converts into serotonin in your brain, helping to improve your mood and potentially lessen your headaches.
Foods to Avoid During a Headache
- Caffeinated Drinks– Caffeine may provide an energy boost, but too much of it can worsen headaches. Too much caffeine can increase blood pressure, leading to worsening headaches and possibly even migraines. If you have frequent headaches, try limiting yourself to one caffeinated drink per day or avoiding it altogether.
- Alcohol– Alcohol is a common trigger for headaches, and drinking too much can also lead to dehydration and make headaches worse. If alcohol is something that triggers your headaches, try avoiding it altogether or limit yourself to one or two drinks at most when out with friends.
- Processed Meats– Processed meats such as bacon, sausage, and deli meats contain nitrates that have been linked to increased risk of migraines in some people. Instead of relying on processed meats for your protein source, opt for leaner proteins such as fish or chicken instead.
- Salty Foods– Salty foods, like chips and processed meat, are known triggers for headaches, since they cause an increase in sodium levels in the body, which causes dehydration and ultimately leads to muscle tension and pain.
- Sugar-Heavy Foods– Eating sugary foods every now and then isn’t necessarily bad for you but consuming too much sugar on a regular basis has been linked with chronic headaches in some people. Try switching out sugary snacks for healthier options, such as fruits or nuts instead!
When you have a headache, it is important to pay attention to what you are eating, as some foods can make the pain worse, while others can help ease it. If your headaches are persistent, don’t hesitate to consult a neurologist. For comprehensive neurological care, contact Associated in Neurology at (248) 478-5512 or request an appointment today.