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Cause Of Headaches: Trigger Foods And Foods That Help

The pain can start for any number of reasons. You haven't looked up from the computer screen in hours, the neighbor is playing the drums again, the jackhammer outside your window just won't quit. While headaches can occur for many reasons, including stress, muscle tension, sinus infections, PMS or lack of sleep, many chronic headache and migraine sufferers can pinpoint certain things they eat or drink that set off the pounding.


The key to getting the best treatment is understanding your pain; tracking your symptoms and potential triggers can help you determine what type of headache you have and how to tame the pain. For some ideas of where to look, click through these foods that either trigger or tame headaches.

Trigger: Aged Cheese

One of the most common triggers of headaches, according to WebMD, is aged cheese, because of a substance called tyramine, which forms as protein breaks down. The older the cheese, the more tyramine it contains. If you think cheese might be one of your triggers, try avoiding blue cheeses, brie, feta, gorgonzola, Swiss among others.

Trigger: Alcohol

There are a couple of reasons that tossing back a drink can hurt your head. Preservatives called sulfites have been blamed in the past, but are more likely to trigger allergies or asthma than headaches.

Alcohol also increases blood flow to the brain, and can cause dehydration, both of which can lead to headaches, according to EverydayHealth.

Trigger: Nitrates and MSG

These preservatives, found in processed meats and soy sauce, among other foods, have been linked to the constriction of blood vessels, which may lead to headaches in some people.

Trigger: Bananas

Bananas also contain tyramine, although there's significantly more in the peel than in the fruit itself. While no studies strongly support this approach, EverydayHealth suggests avoiding the stringy pieces of inner peel that stick to the fruit if you're prone to headaches. Other fruits, like avocado, figs, raisins, papaya and plums, can also trigger headaches.

Trigger: Nuts

Like cheese and some fruits, nuts also contain tyramine, but in smaller quantities, according to NPR.

The Jury’s Still Out: Caffeine

That jolt in your java can be good and bad for headaches. Caffeine -- in small amounts -- can actually ease headaches. It's added to many headache medications because it actually helps the body absorb the drugs faster, according to WebMD.

But if you're too dependent on the stuff, either in meds or latte form, you up your chances of a rebound or withdrawal headache when you come down from your caffeinated "high." Limiting caffeine consumption to under 200 or 300 mg a day should help, but keep in mind that it's not just found in coffee, but also in tea and chocolate.

Tamer: Omega 3 Fatty Acids

For headaches caused by inflammation, upping the amount of omega-3s in your diet can reduce the pain. Fish like salmon and sardines, as well as flaxseed and other seed, nut and leafy-green sources are great ways to increase your intake.

Tamer: Watermelon

Headaches are often triggered by dehydration, whether it's because you've been neglecting your water bottle at work all day or had one too many last night.

Plain old H20 is a good place to start when it comes to rehydrating, but high-water-content foods like watermelon, cucumber and tomatoes can also help. The water in fresh fruits and veggies contains essential minerals for rehydration, like magnesium.

Tamer: Spinach

There are lots of reasons to chow down on Popeye's favorite green, but here's one more: Riboflavin, a B vitamin, is found in green leafy vegetables like spinach, and has been linked to preventing migraines.

Source: Huffington Post
Saturday, April 7, 2012