What diet changes can I make to help prevent headaches?

Some headaches can be managed with diet, but this varies greatly by the individual. Foods that contain tyramine (which is found in aged cheeses and many processed foods), for example, can cause head pain in susceptible people. Even small amounts of MSG (monosodium glutamate) can cause symptoms including headache. Alcohol, caffeine and nicotine are common causes as well. A good approach (beyond eating healthy foods and addressing the above additives) is to start a food diary to see if you can link headaches with certain foods.
Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
Do your headaches make you feel like your head is about to explode? If so, you are not alone. Janet Jackson, Marcia Cross, and Hugh Jackman all suffer from crushing head pain. Clearly, a throbbing tension headache (90% of all headaches are this type) or a pulsating migraine can stop anyone in their tracks. But how can you end the mind-numbing assault? Over-the-counter and prescription medications for headaches -- including migraines -- can relieve and sometimes prevent pain, but to be pain-free, you may need to make over your diet. Below are some of our suggestions for doing so.
  • Change your diet to eat more foods rich in magnesium and riboflavin (vitamin B2). Riboflavin is in low-/no-fat dairy, eggs, nuts, and green vegetables. Magnesium is in green veggies, whole grains, nuts, and potatoes. You can also supplement with 400 milligrams of riboflavin and at least 100 mg of magnesium daily.
  • Make sure you don't have a vitamin D deficiency, which has been linked to headaches. You want at least 1,000 international units of vitamin D3 a day (1,200 IU after age 60).
  • Identify food triggers. It’s mostly word of mouth that everything from red wine to chocolate can launch a headache, but if you suspect certain foods trigger yours, keep a daily diary to track what you eat and when your head hurts. Doing so may reveal problem foods. Eliminate them from your diet and you may have fewer headaches.
With a few diet and lifestyle changes, you just might show those celebs a thing or two about living smart and free of head pain.
Dawn Marcus
Here are some tips to keep a healthy diet and prevent headaches:
  • Eat three meals spaced throughout the day, with healthy snacks in between.
  • Drink at least ten 8-ounce glasses of water each day.
  • Add more drinks when exercising.
  • Limit caffeinated beverages to no more than 2 cups or 1 mug each day.
  • Limit alcohol consumption to a maximum of 2 drinks per day for an adult man; 1 drink per day for an adult woman; 1 drink per day for an adult over age 65 years old.
The Woman's Migraine Toolkit: Managing Your Headaches from Puberty to Menopause (A DiaMedica Guide to Optimum Wellness)

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The Woman's Migraine Toolkit: Managing Your Headaches from Puberty to Menopause (A DiaMedica Guide to Optimum Wellness)

Migraines are a common, controllable type of headache that affects one in every six women, more than 20 million in the United States alone. The Woman’s Migraine Toolkit helps readers take charge of...

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.