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Debilitating headaches can interfere with everyday life and leave you holed up in a cool, dark room. Researchers estimate that nearly 38 million Americans suffer from migraine disease and that nearly 4 million are suffering from them chronically. While some individuals can have just one or two bad days per month, other can have as many as 15 bad days, leaving them with crippled social, economic, and psychological lives.
While doctors aren’t quite sure what causes these intense headaches, they do understand that some people have triggers, which changes brain activity and causes vessels to constrict. In addition, nerve signals are cut off and the result is throbbing pain on one side of the head. These can last anywhere between an hour to 72 hours.
If this sounds like you, it’s possible that your trigger could be certain medications, changes in your hormones, or even your diet. Below, we’ll look at how what you eat plays a role in triggering the intense pain.
Foods That Can Trigger a Migraine
Food triggers vary from person to person, but some of the most common culprits are:
- Aged cheeses
- Alcohol such as beer or red wines
- Cured meats
- Nuts and nut butters
- Citrus fruits
When you look at what’s in your food, avoid things that contain: monosodium glutamate, which is the main ingredient in meat tenderizers and soy sauce; nitrates and nitrites that can be found in hot dogs, ham, and other cured meats; and aspartame, an artificial sweetener that’s 150 times sweeter than sugar. Certain beverages in your diet can also be triggers, including caffeine, hard liquors, and wine and champagnes.
Holding Off Intense Headaches
If you suspect that your diet is triggering your migraines, consider taking some necessary steps towards healthier eating habits. Try choosing fresh foods like other fruits and vegetables and avoid processed or packaged foods. You can also attempt to eat mini meals throughout the day instead of three large meals. Eating throughout the day can keep you from getting hungry, which could be the cause of your migraines. Also, make sure you drink plenty of water throughout the day to stay hydrated and avoid sugary, carbonated, or alcoholic beverages.
However, don’t cut all of these foods out of your regimen completely. Doing so could make it more difficult to pinpoint what’s causing your headaches. Instead, eliminate one thing at a time for a month to see if you feel any different. Keep a food diary and make note of any changes or whether your episodes subside.
Since no two people are alike, no two brains are either. While your food consumption could be having a significant impact on your brain, doctors have also identified other possible triggers, which include:
- Changes in your environment such as the changing of seasons, higher altitudes, or the high and low pressures associated with storm building.
- Hormone changes related to menstrual cycles or pregnancy.
- Sensory stimulation in the form of bright lights, intense smells, or excessive or repetitive noises.
- Increase in stress levels, intense workouts, illness, or even unusual sleep habits.
For some people, bad nutrition is just one of many triggers, and eliminating one or all causes is impossible. That’s why neurofeedback solutions and nutrition guidance are becoming popular as effective solutions for treating migraines.
Not All Superheroes Wear Capes
Migraines shouldn’t rule your life. Which is why Brain Forest Systems offers a drug-free approach to your treatment. Our programs retrain your brain to create new patterns and responses to incoming triggers and stressors found in your diet. This results in a calmer, happier, and healthier brain with few flare-ups. To find out how neurofeedback can help you, contact us for a free consultation.