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Eight foods that help headaches

Last updated on: December 17, 2010 19:22 IST

Eight foods that help headaches

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Need relief? A change in diet may be in order.

There are various causes of headache, with each and every cause producing a headache of a different magnitude.

Headaches are symptoms of a number of physical and mental imbalances. Just as there are foods that can cause a headache, there are foods that can help make them disappear. In the following pages, we outline some of those which will help you with your headaches.


Image: A change in diet may be in order to rid yourself of frequent headaches

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1. Potato

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Hangover-related headaches are caused not only due to dehydration but also because of loss of electrolytes such as potassium. Eating potassium-rich foods can help alleviate such headaches by replacing lost potassium. Potatoes contain large amounts of potassium -- 100 gms of baked potato (with the skin) can contain upto 600 mgs of potassium.


Image: Potatoes contain large amounts of potassium
Photographs: Man vyi/Wikimedia Commons
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2. Banana

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Bananas are not only high in potassium (a medium banana contains 467 mgs of potassium), but also high in magnesium (a medium-sized banana contains 10 percent of your recommended daily intake).

Potassium can help you with hangover-related headaches and the magnesium can help you with migraines and tension headaches. A large number of studies have established a link between magnesium deficiency and migraine headaches. Studies show that around half of all people who suffer from migraine headaches have a low amount of ionised magnesium in their blood.

Magnesium, found in bananas, may protect your body from the brunt of a headache by relaxing blood vessels. Also, magnesium is very calming, which can be helpful for tension headaches. Other foods rich in magnesium include dried apricots, avocados, almonds, cashews, brown rice, legumes and seeds.


Image: Magnesium in bananas may protect your body from the brunt of a headache by relaxing blood vessels
Photographs: Steve Hopson, www.stevehopson.com
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3. Coffee

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Caffeine in coffee can be both beneficial and harmful for a headache sufferer. Caffeine is a common ingredient in many prescription and over-the-counter headache medications as it can make pain relievers 40 percent more effective in treating headaches.

Caffeine also helps the body absorb headache drugs more quickly, bringing faster relief. It can be a very effective headache reducer, especially migraines, but it can also cause rebound headaches if you rely on it too much. So, do not have more than two or three cups of coffee per day.


Image: The caffeine in coffee can make pain relievers 40 percent more effective in treating headaches
Photographs: Julius Schorzman/Wikimedia Commons
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4. Whole grains

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When you follow a low carbohydrate diet, you begin to deplete you main source of energy to the brain, the glycogen stores. This also causes an increase in fluid losses from the body (as lots of fluid is bound up in the body's carbohydrate stores that are depleted), leading to dehydration.

This dehydration, along with reduced energy to the brain can trigger headaches. When you include healthy carbs (whole grains such as whole wheat bread, whole grain cereals, oatmeal and fruits) in your diet, you not only keep headaches at bay, but also improve your mood.


Image: When you include healthy carbs in your diet, like whole grain bread, you keep headaches at bay
Photographs: Julo/Wikimedia Commons
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5. Watermelon/water

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Dehydration is a common cause of headaches. Consider drinking more water or eating lots of water-rich foods (such as watermelon) to prevent headaches. The water-rich foods also contain many essential minerals, like magnesium, in their water that are key in headache prevention.

You can also try an electrolyte sports drink if you tend to get headaches after long durations of exercise due to loss of minerals.


Image: Water-rich foods like watermelon prevent headaches
Photographs: Steve Evans from Bangalore, India
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6. Fish

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Fatty fish (such as salmon, tuna and mackerel) act as a cure for migraine headaches because they are rich in essential fatty acids, omega-3. Omega-3 fatty acids can inhibit inflammation that often triggers migraine headaches. Take fish oil supplements if you can't eat fish everyday. You can also add foods like flaxseeds, walnuts, tofu and soybeans to your diet for additional omega-3s.


Image: Mackerel contain omega-3 fatty acids, which can inhibit inflammation
Photographs: Katorisi/Wikimedia Commons
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7. Sesame seeds

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Sesame seeds are high in Vitamin E, which can help stabilise estrogen levels and prevent migraines during your periods. These seeds are also rich in magnesium, which further adds to their headache-preventing power. Other foods rich in Vitamin E include nuts, olive oil, dandelion, oatmeal and sweet potatoes.


Image: Sesame seeds are high in Vitamin E, which can help prevent migraines
Photographs: Shailesh Humbad/Wikimedia Commons
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8. Ginger

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Apart from being a cure for nausea, ginger's anti-inflammatory and anti-histamine properties can also be beneficial in fighting headaches. It can be cooked or combined with different beverages and drinks like tea.

Adding some or all of the above foods to your diet will help you prevent the recurrence of headaches.


Image: Ginger's anti-inflammatory and anti-histamine properties can be beneficial in fighting headaches
Photographs: Andrew Winning/Reuters
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