By Olivia Alexander, NYNG Intern & RD-to-be
June is Migraine and Headache Awareness Month. More than 37 million people suffer from migraines and headaches. Surprisingly, nutrition can play a significant role in prevention. The first step in the nutritional management of diet-triggered headaches/migraines is eating a well-balanced diet.
Stay hydrated. Dehydration is a common headache trigger.
You should aim to half your body weight, in ounces. For example, if you weigh 200 pounds, you should drink 100 ounces of water per day.
Limit drinks that contain dehydrating ingredients, such as caffeine and alcohol.
Focus on magnesium. Make sure you are consuming a sufficient amount of magnesium. Studies show that people who suffer from migraines may have low magnesium levels during a migraine period, and may also suffer from magnesium deficiency. https://www.migrainetrust.org/living-with-migraine/treatments/supplements-and-herbs/
Magnesium rich foods include avocados, nuts, seeds, legumes, whole grains, bananas, and leafy greens.
Keep blood sugar levels stable. An inconsistent diet including periods of fasting and eating large amounts of simple carbs, as well as skipping meals, can trigger migraines and headaches.
Eat a balance of lean protein, healthy fats, and high-fiber carbs simultaneously to help steady your blood sugar levels throughout the day.
Here are some examples:
Greek yogurt + fiber-one cereal
banana + peanut butter
tuna salad + whole grain chips
Oatmeal + nut or seed butter.
Consider a Tyramine-restricted diet. Tyramine can be a trigger for a headache or migraine. Tyramine is natural by-product of protein breakdown. https://www.webmd.com/migraines-headaches/tyramine-and-migraines#1
Foods that are high in protein that have not been properly stored typically contain more tyramine.
Some common culprits are cured meats, aged cheeses, and smoked fish. All food, especially high protein foods, should be prepared and eaten fresh. Be cautious of food stored for more than 2 days.
Keep these tips in mind if you suffer from any migraines or headaches and always consult with your PCP before starting any new plans, eliminating food groups or taking supplements. A doctor can help determine the cause and treatment. Visit https://headaches.org/2012/01/13/headache-sufferers-diet/ for more information on how to manage your headaches through nutrition!
Migraine and Headache Awareness Month background: https://americanmigrainefoundation.org/resource-library/migraine-and-headache-awareness-month-2018/