Your head feels tight, the pressure builds, and pretty soon pain is all you
can think about. Hello, headache. You're having one of the recurring tension or
cluster headaches that afflict 45 million Americans every year, according to
the National Headache Foundation. Another 29 million suffer from migraines.
Research shows that some headaches, primarily the severe migraine type, can
be triggered by your diet. Keep a headache diary, say experts. Look for
patterns. Do any foods or beverages consistently cause headaches? Once you've
identified a potential trigger, cut it out of your diet and see if the result
is fewer or less severe headaches. Start your hunt for triggers with these
common pain-producing culprits:
Headache pain along with a stuffy, runny nose and itchy, watery eyes. Sounds like a sinus headache, right? Think again.
More than 4 out of 5 people who think they have a sinus headache with symptoms like pain in the head, stuffy nose, and watery eyes actually have migraine headaches.
"It's such a widespread misconception," says neurology professor Peter Goadsby, MD, who heads the University of California, San Francisco's headache program. "It's the size of the problem that stuns me."
Formed naturally from the breakdown of protein as it ages, tyramine is found in
red wine, overripe bananas, beer, ale, nuts, seeds, soy, chocolate, pickled or
fermented foods, and aged cheeses like Camembert and Parmesan. For a
trigger-free cheese plate, choose fresh cheeses, such as jalapeno jack yogurt
cheese, soy cheddar, mozzarella, chevre, and mascarpone.
Drinking more than the equivalent of two cups of coffee a day means increased
blood flow to the brain, which can bring on a nasty headache.
Alcohol increases blood flow to the brain, which can trigger a cluster or
migraine headache or cause dehydration and lead to a hangover headache.
The increased sodium intake from monosodium glutamate, or MSG-an ingredient
commonly found in meat tenderizers and in Chinese food-may result in a
hangover-type or migraine headache.
Usually associated with red wine, tannins are also found in apple juice,
black-berries, coffee, tea, chocolate, and carob.
This food additive, found in processed meats such as hot dogs and lunch meat,
can increase blood flow to the brain and cause a migraine.
This dessert and other very cold foods can irritate a nerve in the back of the
throat and bring on "brain freeze," which can trigger a headache
(although not a migraine).
Recipe: A Safe Substitution
12 half-cup servings
1/2 cup sliced oranges
1/2 cup strawberries or raspberries
1/2 cup sliced apples
1/2 cup sliced pears
2 cups sparkling cider or champagne
1 cup white grape juice
1 cup ginger ale, lemon-lime soda, or sparkling water
Fresh mint and lemon slices (optional for garnish)
1. Slice fruit (substitute any fruit you desire) and place into a large
2. Combine all liquids, pour over fruit, and let marinate for a few
3. Pour into festive wine glasses and (if desired) garnish each glass with
fresh mint and a slice of lemon.
Per serving: 65 calories, .2 grams protein, 9.25 g
carbohydrate, .5 g fiber, 0 fat, 0 chol, 5.4 mg sodium.