Featured: Are you consuming headache inducing foods?

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Featured: Are you consuming headache inducing foods?

Post by Tee on Tue Aug 02, 2011 4:14 am


Aug 01, 2011 - 01:47 PM

Headaches could ruin your day so if you just knew what to avoid to prevent those disastrous aches, you’d surely keep them miles away. According to some health and wellness experts, up to 30 percent of headache sufferers are affected by the foods they eat. So what kinds of foods can cause headaches and why? Registered dietitian Preethi Rahul tells you all about discomforting foods and why they could be working as headache triggers


1. Aged Cheese
Since milk is the chief component of cheese, it has very high protein content. In the aged cheeses, this protein is broken down releasing tyramine which is a severe headache trigger. Cheddar, provolone, parmesan, mozzarella, blue cheese, feta, Swiss are all examples of aged cheeses. So make sure you know what type of cheese you are consuming and how much.

2. Alcohol
Whiskey, red wine, champagne, and beer, create a kind of heaviness and pain in the head. Ever wondered why? Well, here is the reason: Alcohol thins the blood and thus causes a sharp increase in blood flow to the brain, which could be the cause of the headache. Being a diuretic, alcohol can leave you in a dehydrated state, which in turn could trigger a severe headache. Consume if you must with caution.

3. Artificial food colours
Allergic reactions, hyperactivity and headaches are often linked to certain food colouring agents. The National Headache Foundation suggests that yellow food colouring is a common trigger for migraines. Most popularly used yellow food colours are FD&C yellow no. 5, sunset yellow (E110), tartrazine (E102) and quinoline yellow (E104).

4. Chocolates
Allergy to cocoa or the dairy used in chocolates can cause sinus headaches. Phenylethylamine is one of the components of chocolate that can cause constriction and dilation of blood vessels. The sudden inflow and outflow of blood to the brain may cause a headache. Chocolates contain very small amounts of caffeine and larger amounts of theobromine, which has effects similar to caffeine but in a milder form. Opt for chocolates that contain close to 70% cocoa. The milk, sugar, additives, kind of fat used could be added reasons for headache caused by chocolates.

5. Coffee
Caffeine - one of the key components in coffee can trigger a headache in some people or can be a cure for headaches in many others. Caffeine is a diuretic and can rob the body of essential nutrients. Magnesium is a nerve relaxant and can definitely prevent headaches but caffeine binds with the magnesium and excretes it out of the system. This can trigger a severe headache. Coffee is addictive in nature and when you try to cut down on your coffee intake, the withdrawal symptoms can also lead to headaches. Moderation is the key to caffeine consumption.

6. Mono sodium glutamate
Found pretty often in number of junk foods, mono sodium glutamate is one of the worst headache offenders. Glutamate is a vaso dilator and causes a sudden gush of blood to the brain which can lead to severe headache.

7. Nicotine
Nicotine usually present in cigarettes stimulates vascular activity in the brain as well as the nerves in the back of the throat which could also cause a sharp pain in the head. In one study of patients with cluster headaches, those who reduced their tobacco use by less than one-half pack of cigarettes per day found their headaches were decreased by 50 percent.

According to World Health organization, more than 20 million migraine attacks occur every day. Women are three times more susceptible to headaches than men. It is best to maintain a food diary to understand if food is the trigger for your headaches. Some diet triggers are easy to identify while others require you to constantly monitor your nutrition labels. If you get a headache on consumption of a suspected food within 20- 25 minutes, then try eliminating that food or ingredient from your diet and see if you get some relief.

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