Food-Related Headaches and How to Fight Them
There are many different factors that cause headaches in daily life, but one that many people don’t know about is food. The ingredients in certain foods are headache triggers, and avoiding those foods can greatly enhance the quality of life for chronic headache sufferers.
Here are some ways to prevent food-related headaches and gain a better understanding of their symptoms and what causes them.
Food Additives and Preservatives
Additives and preservatives added to food play a significant role in dietary reactions and headaches caused by food.
These ingredients are put in foods to keep them fresh longer, to enhance taste, or create color. Staying away from unnatural components in foods is a huge step in the right direction, but it can be difficult to determine which foods pose health risks.
Foods with Headache-Causing Chemicals
Monosodium glutamate, also known as MSG, is a common cause of headaches and most associated with Chinese and other types of Asian food. Headaches caused by this chemical are described by pulsing pain that exists on both sides of the head and gets worse with activity. MSG headaches can make an individual feel flushed, dizzy, feel a burning sensation in the neck and chest, and cause stomach pain. Be wary of product labels that mention hydrolyzed fat and hydrolyzed protein, since these are commonly used to refer to MSG on packaged foods.
Processed meats are packed with nitrates, which is another headache-causing preservative. While it may keep bacon and lunch meat fresh, it can also cause headaches by expanding blood vessels in the brain. Also, avoid aspartame sweeteners and foods colored with yellow dye No. 6, because these are known to cause headaches too.
Tyramine is a product of protein breakdown that increases in foods as they age. Aged cheese is a good example of a food rich in tyramine, and many types of cheeses, including parmesan, swiss, cheddar, can be aged. Not only do many processed meats contain nitrates, but they can also contain tyramine too. This includes hot dogs, sausage, ham, pepperoni, and salami.
Timing Meals to Prevent Headaches
Another surprising fact is that the timing of meals is just as important as the foods that are eaten during meals. To prevent headaches, an optimal eating schedule should be followed every day. Skipping meals is a significant headache trigger, and any deviation from a normal meal routine can cause headaches too. Schedule regularity may not be very exciting, but it is one of the best ways to prevent future headaches caused by food or lack of it.
Small, frequent meals are best for headache sufferers, and high-fiber foods and lean proteins can help slow down the digestion process and stabilize blood sugar levels. It’s also important to manage stress and stay hydrated during meals and between meals.
Treating Headaches Caused by Food
For gentle, effective headache relief, try Vanquish, an over-the-counter solution that’s been fighting tough headaches for over 50 years. When grocery shopping, choose fresh foods with natural and organic ingredients instead of prepackaged meals and convenience foods. The symptoms of food-related headaches typically begin within an hour of eating, so this should help narrow down which foods trigger headaches and should be avoided in the future.
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