If you’re someone who experiences frequent headaches, you know you’ll do anything to get risk of that pesky head pain. You’ll load up on water, pop an Advil, rub on some peppermint oil — whatever it takes to make the throbbing sensation disappear.
But when it comes to alleviating headaches and migraines, many people don’t consider their diet’s impact on how they feel. Certain foods can trigger headaches or migraines, especially in people who are sensitive to certain ingredients.
Common causes of headaches include dehydration, stress, and food sensitivities, so it’s important to know which foods can exacerbate these issues.
1. Foods With MSG
If you’re a fan of Chinese takeout, that might explain why you’re often plagued with head pain. Monosodium glutamate, which is often found in fast food, processed foods, and some soups, has been found to cause an increase in headaches in people who even just eat one single serving.
Most of us already know that alcohol can result in a pretty nasty hangover, which can include headaches, but even just a drink or two can yield unpleasant results.
Alcohol contains ethanol, which can cause dehydration, vasodilation, and excretion of salt, vitamins, and minerals from the body, which can all contribute to headaches.
3. Processed Meats
Most processed meats, such as lunch meats and sausage, contain nitrites and nitrates, which can trigger migraines. Some people are more sensitive than others, but these compounds produce nitric oxide, which expands blood vessels, triggering head pain.
4. Aged Cheese
Certain cheeses such as gouda, Parmesan, blue cheese, and cheddar contain tyramine, a natural food chemical that has been linked to headaches. Fresh cheeses such as cottage and mozzarella are better options for people who are sensitive to tyramine.
Although caffeine itself may not directly cause a headache, withdrawal from the substance is a common culprit. If you often consume caffeinated beverages, you may experience head pain as part of withdrawal symptoms.
6. Salty Foods
Research from Johns Hopkins University found that a diet high in sodium can lead to more headaches, likely due to the volume of blood increasing after salt intake.
In the study, people who consumed 1,150 milligrams of sodium per day were 25 percent less likely to have a headache than people who consumed 3,500 milligrams per day.