If diet affects your headache or migraine, you are not alone. There are plenty of foods and beverages known to be triggers for headache. Recently, researchers at the University of Cincinnati concluded preventing headaches with diet is about more than just avoiding triggers.
A review of more than 180 research studies on migraine and diet affirm there are two approaches to preventing headache with diet. The first thing headache and migraine patients can do is avoid triggers. Secondly, patients can also follow a comprehensive diet which may prevent headaches, said Vincent Martin, MD, a co-author of the study.
The two-part review, “Diet and Headache” was published online by Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain (Part 2), and analyzes the effect of a number of triggers. Martin and co-author Brinder Vij, MD explain triggers, such as caffeine, MSG, nitrites, and alcohol.
“One of the most important triggers for headache is the withdrawal of caffeine,” Martin, President of the National Headache Foundation said. “Let’s say you regularly pound down three or four cups of coffee every morning and you decide to skip your morning routine one day. You will likely have full-fledged caffeine withdrawal headache that day.”
Research showed that there are three comprehensive diets that have shown to prevent headache: low-fat diets, low carbohydrate diets, and diets that increase the amount of omega-3 fatty acids and decrease the amount of omega-6 fatty acids.
“The beauty of these diets is that they not only reduce the frequency headache attacks but may produce weight loss and prevent heart disease,” said Vij in a press release.
Martin added that there is a lot of interest in gluten-free diets; however, they are only beneficial in preventing headaches if the individual suffers from celiac disease.
“Persons with headache and migraine have more dietary options than ever. Ultimately, a healthy headache diet excludes processed foods, minimizes caffeine, and includes a lot of fruits, vegetables, fish and lean meats,” Martin said. “After all, you are what you eat.”