When we have a headache, it is natural to think about taking some pain reliever, to see if the pain goes away. The solution to the problem may lie in some foods that help prevent and treat headaches, often eliminating the need to resort to medication.
One of the main causes of headache is dehydration, so start by including pure water and foods rich in liquids in your routine.
However, there are also foods that can trigger headache attacks, such as processed foods, light versions, stimulants (energetics), alcoholic and spicy drinks. Sensitivity to these foods varies from person to person, the secret is to consume them in moderation and, whenever possible, opt for natural or less processed options.
Here are some examples of foods that you can include in your diet, as they will help you to prevent and treat headaches.
Salmon is an example of a fatty fish that helps to reduce headache
Even though that name sounds strange, don't be alarmed, fatty fish are those rich in omega 3 and healthy fats. Salmon, tuna and sardines are excellent options to include in your menu.
Omega 3 helps prevent heart and brain diseases, and also reduces blood viscosity. This improves blood circulation in the head, helping to reduce pain.
There are other foods that are also rich in omega-3s, such as flaxseeds, chia seeds, and oysters.
Magnesium is a very important mineral for the human body and is related to muscle contraction, which can sometimes be the cause of some headaches. One of the types of headache is tension headache, in which the muscles are contracted for a long time, due to stress, for example.
This mineral is necessary for the proper functioning of our brain, as it facilitates the action of neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, which gives us a feeling of well-being and relaxation.
There are several foods rich in magnesium, such as:
- pumpkin seeds
- Bitter chocolate
Foods rich in vitamin C
Our body is not capable of producing vitamin C, so it is necessary to turn to foods such as green leafy vegetables, citrus fruits and red fruits.
As they are foods with a high water content in their composition, they also fit into the category of diuretics, which help regulate high blood pressure, one of the most common causes of headache.
Vitamin C helps to strengthen and relax the walls of blood vessels, which promotes better blood circulation in the brain. In addition, vitamin C exerts an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity, which are essential in the prevention and also in the treatment of headache.
You should know that oranges and lemons are rich in vitamin C but, in addition to them, they are also on the list:
Foods that help you sleep
There are some foods that help reduce anxiety and stress levels and, therefore, promote a better night's sleep. Poorly slept nights are one of the common causes of headache.
Passion fruit, cherry and cinnamon are examples of foods that help us relax and sleep better.
See other foods that promote a good night's sleep:
Oatmeal: it is a food that contains melatonin, a hormone released at the beginning of the night, when natural lighting is decreasing. By consuming it, you can fall asleep faster.
Milk: is a food rich in tryptophan, responsible for the production of melatonin and serotonin, hormones that regulate the sleep cycle and provide a feeling of relaxation. So, drinking a glass of milk, 30 minutes before bed, can help you have a better rest.
Cherry: it is also a rich source of melatonin, it can be consumed as a dessert after dinner, or as a juice.
Cabbage: because it is a source of magnesium, cabbage works directly on muscle relaxation, thus relieving tensions that can disrupt sleep and cause headaches.
There are several teas that can help improve headache
Teas bring us the feeling of relaxation, as they are natural calming. They decrease stress and anxiety levels, which are powerful triggers for headaches. Before resorting to painkillers, try having a tea, preferably without the addition of sugar.
Teas such as mint, chamomile and ginger are excellent natural anti-inflammatories, which can relieve headaches.
See below how to prepare them:
- 5 to 10 fresh mint leaves
- 2 cups of water
- Sugar or honey (optional)
- Lemon slices (optional)
- ice (optional)
Boil the water and then add the mint leaves. Cover the container and let it infuse for 5 minutes. Strain the water with the leaves and serve. If you prefer to sweeten, you can use sugar or honey and, for an even more refreshing taste, add a slice of lemon. This tea can be served chilled, just add a few ice cubes.
- Fresh or dried chamomile flowers
- 1 cup of boiling water
- Sugar or honey (optional)
Heat the water and when it boils, turn off the heat. Put the fresh or dried chamomile flowers and leave the mug covered for 5 to 10 minutes. Strain the tea and serve. If desired, sweeten with sugar or honey.
- 4 cm fresh root, grated or cut into small pieces
- 1 liter of boiling water
- Sugar or honey to taste
Heat the water, along with the ginger, over medium heat. When it starts to boil, lower the heat and let it cook for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat, cover the pan and let it infuse for another 2 minutes. Sweeten to taste with sugar and honey, strain and serve.
Careful with the amount, but caffeine can help
Caffeine is used in the composition of some analgesics that relieve headaches, however, for some people, it can be a trigger for a headache, either through withdrawal or excessive consumption.
Because caffeine is a vasoconstrictor substance, it is able to constrict blood vessels, helping to eliminate headaches caused by vessel dilation, a condition known as vasodilation.
So is coffee a hero or villain? This depends on a few factors, such as the amount of caffeine ingested throughout the day. Excessive coffee can cause headaches, but lack of it in those who already drink it can also cause pain and discomfort.
According to studies, there are benefits to ingesting 400 mg of caffeine a day, which is equivalent to 4 cups of filtered coffee (225 mL).
Whole foods such as rice, bread, pasta, chia, quinoa, oats, flaxseed, wheat germ and sesame have a remarkable amount of fiber, which prevents insulin spikes in the blood.
Very sudden changes in blood glucose are a triggering factor for headache attacks. In addition, fibers help in the proper functioning of the intestine, decreasing body inflammation and, therefore, the chances of you suffering from a headache.
Some of these foods are rich in more than one nutrient, which can provide health benefits in general, not just headaches. Having a healthy diet and exercising are essential for a better quality of life.