June is National Migraine and Headache Awareness Month. Migraine is the sixth most
disabling disease globally, and approximately 12 percent of Americans have this disease (1).
What is a migraine?
Migraines are a neurological disease and can have a variety of symptoms. One of the
most common symptoms of a migraine is an extreme headache. Migraine headaches
are usually worse with activity, light, or sound and can last several hours to several days.
What’s the difference between migraine and headache?
Headaches are divided into two categories: primary headaches and secondary
headaches. Migraines are a type of primary headache. A primary headache is a
specific clinical diagnosis while a secondary headache is a symptom of another health
issue—like allergies or the flu. Both types of headaches can be equally debilitating for
many people. The following tips may help to reduce or lessen the severity of migraine
or help to ease headache pain.
Five tips for managing migraines and headache
Identify possible dietary triggers Keeping a log of the foods you eat is a great way to identify possible food triggers. If you are able to remove these foods from your diet, you may be able to reduce the frequency or severity of your headaches and maybe eliminate them altogether. Food does not contribute to headaches in all patients, and particular foods may trigger attacks in some individuals, but not every individual. Caffeine, Monosodium Glutamate (MSG), and Nitrates are common food triggers.
Limit tyramine and phenylethylamine These naturally occurring compounds stimulate the arterial system, which may lead to a headache or migraine in some individuals. These substances develop in food as they age, so be careful about consuming leftovers. Food sources include chocolate, wine, fava/broad beans, chicken/beef liver, orange pulp, packaged soups, summer sausage, soy sauce, eggplant, spinach, avocado, tomato, banana, prunes, raisins, and aged cheese. This list is not inclusive. Some individuals are sensitive to tyramine and phenylethylamine—meaning they can tolerate a couple of bites of food containing these substances with no symptoms—but larger portions trigger the negative side effect.
Exercise regularly When you exercise the body releases endorphins. Exercise helps to reduce stress and helps you get better sleep. Yoga, walking, and stretching are great forms of exercise.
Stay hydrated Dehydration can trigger a headache/migraine. With the weather getting warmer it’s time to start increasing fluid intake. Try to get in the habit of drinking water throughout the day, not just at mealtime.
Meditate Meditation can help to relieve stress and calm the mind.
If meal planning is a stressor for you, reach out to Smart Nutrition, LLC for a consult.
We can help you take the stress out of meal planning by providing you with weekly
plans and grocery lists.
accessed on May 21, 2022