You often hear about foods that can cause headaches, but how about foods that can fight them? Before reaching for the bottle of ibuprofen the next time you feel a headache coming on (which ultimately just masks the symptom and doesn't actually address the root of the problem), here are my top 5 reasons for headaches and natural ways to fight them.
1. Magnesium deficiency
If you have hormonal headaches that also come with cramps, muscle pain, anxiety, and constipation, then you probably have a magnesium deficiency. Up to 80% of North Americans aren't getting enough magnesium due to their poor diets, stress, and the depletion of minerals in the soil. Foods high in magnesium are bananas, sweet potatoes, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, and steamed leafy greens. Incorporating these foods into the diet can be very beneficial, but for those with chronic headaches, magnesium supplementation might be necessary. Use a magnesium bath oil or topical spray to relax the nervous system and soak up the magnesium through the skin, or take magnesium glycinate orally to boost magnesium levels and prevent migraines from coming on in the first place.
2. Food Sensitivities
When you feel you've tried everything and still can't seem to figure out what's causing your migraines, try running an MRT blood panel. Most people have at least a few food sensitivities, and those with a compromised gut have many. If they aren't addressed, over time they can wreak all kinds of havoc on the body. Identifying and removing the foods that are causing inflammation can completely change the way you feel. Every person is different and one person's medicine is another person's poison. For me, hemp seeds, ginger, and egg whites were unexpectedly the culprits.
3. Lack of cellular energy
When mitochondria (which are the energy producing powerhouses in cells) are sluggish, it causes tension headaches to come on quickly. Muscles tighten around the base of the head or behind the temples and result in a migraine. Ramping up cellular energy can do wonders for these types of headaches. Foods that do this are broccoli, cauliflower, free-range high quality eggs, and wild fish. Another way to dramatically improve energy production in cells while also boosting heart health is to supplement with Coenzyme Q10.
4. Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) deficiency
Fifty percent of people with chronic migraines have a large vitamin B2 deficiency. Foods high in this vitamin are asparagus, crimini mushrooms, and quinoa. For maximum absorption, soak your quinoa for 1-3 hours before cooking it.
This one is a no-brainer, but are you actually drinking enough water? The simplest fix for a headache caused by dehydration is to drink 1L of water (about 34 oz) for every 50 lbs of body weight. Your body chemistry and DNA changes when you're just 1% dehydrated so it's important to make sure you're drinking enough water every day. Drinking mineralized water or adding lemon to it boosts hydration and helps support the liver to flush out toxins.
If you're someone who suffers from chronic headaches or migraines, assess where you think you might be deficient and try some of these natural options to help diminish the intensity or frequency of the headaches.
Now, I'd love to hear from you. What have you done to resolve a pesky headache or migraine without having to reach for the ibuprofen? Share and let me know!