5 Foods And Drinks That Can Trigger A Headache, And 5 That Can Soothe One
When it comes to preventing headaches, what you put in your body matters. Think of your body like a car. If you put sugar in your vehicle's gas tank, it's not going to run properly. The same goes for your body, and some of your favorite things are akin to putting sugar in the gas tank. Yep, common foods and drinks can trigger a headache. But some other foods and drinks can help soothe a headache. The trick is knowing the difference.
Dr. Susan Hutchinson, a migraineur and director of the Orange County Migraine & Headache Center in Irvine, Calif., tells Bustle that while too much caffeine can cause a headache, moderate caffeine consumption at the onset of a headache can help stop it from getting worse. In addition, she says food additives and preservatives, such as MSG and artificial sweeteners, can induce a headache. So that sugar-free soda might be doing you more harm than good.
Everyone's body is different. This means that what causes a headache in one person won't necessarily cause a headache in another. The Cleveland Clinic reported that although there isn't sound science to back up self-reported claims, there are foods that are commonly cited as headache triggers by people who get headaches on the regular. The list is long, and you can see every potential food trigger on the Cleveland Clinic's website. If you just want the quick and dirty version, here's what to know about the most common foods and drinks that can cause and soothe headaches.
Aged Cheeses & Cured Meats Trigger Headaches
I don't know about you, but if there's a meat and cheese plate on the menu, I'm definitely ordering it. Thankfully, aged cheeses and cured meats are not headache triggers for me. However, the Cleveland Clinic noted that cheeses such as "blue cheese, brie, cheddar, English stilton, feta, gorgonzola, mozzarella, muenster, parmesan, [and] Swiss [cheese]" can trigger headaches in some people.
Meats that are common headache triggers include, "nitrite-containing meats including hot dogs, sausage, bacon, lunch meats/deli meats, pepperoni, other cured or processed meats." If you notice you get a headache after treating yourself to a meat or cheese plate, these treats could be a trigger for you.
Beans Are Bad For Headaches
I've never been fond of beans so I don't know if they are a trigger for me. However, the Cleveland Clinic noted that many people report: "Most beans including lima, Italian, pole, broad, fava, navy, pinto, snow peas, garbanzo, lentils, and dried beans and peas" can bring on a headache.
If It Comes In A Can, It Might Also Come With A Headache
Who among us doesn't love a good can of chicken soup now and then? Unfortunately, canned foods tend to have a lot of preservatives, which Dr. Hutchinson warns can trigger a headache. If you eat a lot of canned foods, try switching to a diet of fresh, whole foods and see if you get less headaches.
Booze Brings On Headaches
Too much rosé all day will induce a headache in almost everyone. However, if you develop a headache after having just one glass of wine, beer or liquor, alcohol might be a headache trigger for you. This doesn't mean you can never drink, but you'll have to stick to certain spirits. Vodka always gives me a headache, so I abstain completely. Find out what bothers you and opt for something else. In addition, drink plenty of water if you're drinking alcohol.
Dairy Can Induce Headaches
A lot of people are intolerant of dairy products. If you eat a lot of dairy, especially sour cream, yogurt, cheesecake or buttermilk, your headaches could be connected to this indulgence.
Water Is The Best Headache Defense
A lot of headaches are brought on by dehydration. Dr. Hutchinson recommends drinking at least 64 ounces of water a day. "In fact, drinking a large glass of water may help prevent a mild headache from worsening," she says.
Peppermint Soothes Headache Pain
In my opinion, peppermint oil is pure magic. Dr. Hutchinson recommends it for headache relief, and it's a tried and true go to for people who get a lot of headaches. You can put it in an oil diffuser, rub it on your temples, or put a few drops in a glass of water. Because some headaches are accompanied by nausea, and peppermint treats this as well, it's a double win.
Coffee Can Curb Headaches
Too much caffeine can cause a headache, but drinking a caffeinated beverage at the onset of a headache can actually make it go away. This is why some over the counter headache medications contain caffeine.
Himalayan Sea Salt Stops Headaches
This one is common among people looking for an effective all-natch solution. I have tried it, and it does help reduce my headache pain. Pour yourself a glass of room-temperature water, grind in some Himalayan Sea Salt, add a squeeze of lemon, and drink up.
Ginger Is Just As Effective As Medication
A 2014 study published in the journal Phytotherapy Research found that ginger can be just as effective as medication in treating headaches and migraines.
Because everyone is different, you'll need to figure out what works for you. Consider keeping a headache diary to see which foods trigger your headaches and which ones help, then adjust your diet accordingly.