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Nutrition for Headaches and Migraines

Headaches are literally a pain and can make you miss work and/or other important activities. Therefore, getting relief is vital.

Headaches are known to have multiple causes and what you eat and/or drink may be triggering some issues as well. Per an article entitled, “Integrative Nutrition: Nutrition for Headaches and Migraines” in Today’s Dietitian, written by Lisa Andrews, Med, RD, LD, if you suffer from frequent or severe headaches, take a look at your diet, and ask yourself the following questions:

  • Am I drinking enough fluids?,
  • Is my blood sugar, blood pressure, and/or weight high?,
  • Am I getting an excessive amount of caffeine or am I having a caffeine withdrawal?,
  • Do I eat any food additives, such as sulfites (found in alcohol, fruits/veggies that aren’t fresh, vinegars, processed foods that contain certain preservatives), Monosodium Glutamate or MSG (found in restaurant foods, canned vegetables, soups, deli meats and other foods such as ranch dressing), artificial sweeteners?,
  • Do I eat a lot of foods high in tyramine (found in aged cheese, smoked fish, cured meats, liver and certain types of beer), and take a certain antidepressant medication-MAOI?

Although, some of the things in our diets may trigger headaches, per the article mentioned above, there may also be some things that we can do diet-wise to help prevent and/or treat headaches as well, such as:

  • Eliminate specific trigger foods (e.g., caffeine, chocolate, cheese, citrus fruits, alcohol, nitrates, MSG, or potential food allergens),
  • Try following a low-fat vegan, low carb, DASH or Mediterranean-DASH (MIND) diet and lose weight if obese.
  • Increase foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids (e.g., fatty fish, flax or chia seeds, walnuts, olive oil, etc.),
  • Check magnesium and vitamin D, and supplement if low,
  • Eat balanced meals (a lean protein, fruit, veggie, and whole grain) and keep your blood sugars stable,
  • Eat foods high in fiber (e.g., whole grains, fresh fruits and veggies),
  • Try a ginger or turmeric supplement.


For more information, please contact Brandy Strub, Dietitian at Veterans Memorial Hospital at 563-568-3411.