About 70 per cent of those who suffer from headaches are women. Many people endure regular headaches, without knowing that it can be triggered by their diet.
Diet is to blame Of course, a lot depends upon your genetic predisposition. The more genetically prone you are, the more likely certain foods are to precipitate the headache. For instance, red wine is a known trigger. Some people may get a headache with just one glass. Others may react to red wine after 2-3 glasses. Similarly, eating one piece of chocolate may not give you a headache, but eating 4-5 pieces or a whole box may give you one.Cheese can lead to constipation, which can trigger headaches. It also contains vasoactive amines such as tyramine that can cause blood vessels to constrict. Other common headache causing foods are cabbage, brinjal, cured meats, canned fish and peanuts. Milk and caffeine are other culprits. Artificial sweeteners and citrus fruits are sometimes known to trigger headaches. Eating or drinking something ice cold can send a cold shock to your mouth, affecting nerve endings and causing a pain in the temple region and behind both the cheeks.
Headache sufferers are generally known to internalise work stress. Using meditation and deep breathing exercises (pranayam) may prove to be of tremendous value to such people.
Foods that help Try some ginger. It helps control prostaglandins, the hormone-like substance that controls pain. Take one teaspoon of pickled ginger or just slice an inch of fresh ginger, squeeze some lemon on it with a dash of black salt and chew it slowly. If you do this at the first sign of a headache, you may be able to avoid a full-blown migraine. Ginger works like aspirin, leading to reduction in pain.
Consume ground flaxmeal everyday. Flaxseeds can be found at grocery stores. They contain Omega 3 fats, which control prostaglandin synthesis that controls pain. Consume 2-4 tablespoons of flaxseed powder regularly for 2-3 months to reduce the frequency of headaches. To make this powder, you have to dry roast the seeds. You may also need to add salt and red chilli powder to improve the taste.
Eating fish 2-3 times a week delivers similar benefits. Most importantly, you must avoid the above mentioned headache triggering foods. You may also need to detoxify your body as an accumulation of toxins precipitates a headache. Detoxification can be done by using specific herbs and vegetables juices. When you detoxify and stop eating junk food, your body begins to function harmoniously, bringing you peace and improved health.
Dr Anjali Mukerjee is a nutritionist and founder of Health Total, a nutrition counselling centre