Foods that Fight Headaches

You hear us talking about Food as Medicine all the time and chronic headaches are the perfect example of this. More often than not, headaches stem from unknown food allergies, hormonal imbalances and even vitamin deficiencies. And all of these triggers can be treated naturally!

Why you Get Headaches & How to Stop Them

Read the transcript:

Speaker 1: You've heard about foods that can trigger headaches, but what about ones that can actually fight them? In today's Food is Medicine, Christa Orrechio, clinical nutritionist and founder of the Whole Journey, is here to show us foods that can help your pounding, aching head.

Speaker 1: Okay, for a lot of people when the headache starts to come on, the first thing they do is reach for the ibuprofen. But we really need to be careful about how frequently we take that, right?

Christa O.: Yeah, I would say don't take that more than once a week because it's masking the symptom and it's not actually helping with the root of the problem, and it ultimately will make it worse.

Speaker 1: Okay, let's talk about the top five reasons that we're getting these headaches in the first place. One of the ones that we're talking about is a magnesium deficiency. Let's talk about some of the symptoms and how you know that that's the issue.

Christa O.: Sure. Magnesium deficiency usually comes with hormonal headaches. And if you have cramps and muscle pain, anxiety, constipation, those are all signs of magnesium deficiency, and they go hand-in-hand with chronic migraines. Because there's lots of different types of headaches, and so many people … we've got 10 million people in America suffering with migraines … and so filling in your magnesium deficiency can honestly change your life.

Speaker 1: And we do that how?

Christa O.: We do that in a couple of ways. Foods that are high in magnesium, bananas, sweet potatoes, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, get those foods in your diet for sure, but then supplementing with magnesium, I find in my practice is almost key with chronic headaches. So two ways to do that. People think, what do they choose at the health food store? There are so many types.

Christa O.: This is a magnesium oil that you actually put in the bathtub. Use 4 ounces. And you take a bath three times a week. Your body … it will relax the nervous system almost instantly.

Speaker 1: And you just soak in that.

Christa O.: You soak in that. Or if you're too tired to take a bath, you can do a foot bath, 2 ounces in a foot bath while you watch TV or something.

Christa O.: And if you're going to take magnesium, this is my favorite form, magnesium glycinate. There are lots of different types. 450 mg a day if you have chronic migraines will start to fill in that deficiency.

Speaker 1: Another reason we could be getting these, food allergies.

Christa O.: Food allergies. Yeah, you know how you say we have to add foods in, but a lot of things that don't belong in our diet can cause headaches. I had a client who had headaches chronically for 20 years, and we could not figure this out. This was really affecting her life. Finally, I ran a blood panel on her. High allergy to eggs. We got them out of her diet. The headaches go away.

One man's medicine is another man's poison, and so really trying to find these out is really important, because eggs can also be good for headaches if you don't have a food sensitivity to them.

Speaker 1: Okay, another reason we could be getting these chronic headaches, poor cellular energy. Tell me about this.

Christa O.: Yes. When you think of the energy in eighth grade biology … I don't know if you remember them talking about mitochondria, the powerhouse of the cell. And when we don't have a ton of cellular energy, we get a lot quicker tension headaches, where the muscles tighten up around the base of the head or behind the temples, and if that's the type of headache that you get, you need to rev cellular energy. And so we do that with foods that incorporate. We have broccoli and cauliflower, really high-quality eggs, tuna. But the main player in this whole thing … have you heard of Coenzyme Q10?

Speaker 1: I think I have, yeah.

Christa O.: CoQ10 is amazing for heart health and cellular energy health, and so if that's the way you get headaches, you want to pick up CoQ10. Take about 100 mg three times a day. It will have a dramatic impact.

But the other part of that is you have to relax, too. For a tension headache, we have to relax and have stress management and get enough sleep.

Speaker 1: All right, fourth reason we could be getting these major headaches is vitamin B2 deficiency, right?

Christa O.: Yes, otherwise known as riboflavin. Chronic migraines, 50% of people with chronic migraines have a pretty big B2 deficiency. So do you see, if you just take an ibuprofen, you're masking it and you're not getting to the root. Foods really high in riboflavin or B2 are asparagus, the cremini mushrooms, and quinoa which is a seed, kind of like rice that comes from South America.

Speaker 1: We eat a ton of quinoa in-house. The fifth, and one of the major reasons, I think, for a lot of us to get a headache, dehydration. We're just not drinking enough, right?

Christa O.: And so you want to have about a liter of water, which would be 33, 34 ounces for every 50 pounds of body weight. Because your entire chemistry shifts when you're dehydrated. That's so important.

Speaker 1: We got to drink. We got to drink. Good stuff.

Christa O.: Room temperature water with lemon.

Speaker 1: Good stuff, good stuff. This is really important. Thank you. A lot of people deal with this and they just take medicine, because they don't know what to do.

Christa O.: Yeah. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

5 Reasons Why You Have Headaches:

1: Magnesium Deficiency

Hormonal headaches, cramps and muscle pain, anxiety, constipation are all signs of magnesium deficiency, and they go hand-in-hand with chronic migraines.

Foods to Eat: bananas, sweet potatoes, sunflower seeds and sesame seeds.

Supplement: Pure Encapsulations Magnesium Glycinate.

2: Food Allergies:

Test your food sensitivities, these could be causing chronic migraines.

3: Poor Cellular Energy:

Causes tension headaches where the muscles tighten up around the base of the head or behind the temples, and if that's the type of headache that you get, you need to rev cellular energy. We have to relax and have stress management and get enough sleep.

Coenzyme Q10 also helps. It's a potent antioxidant and necessary for the production of cellular energy. CoQ10 is a must-have for anyone taking a statin medication, as statins have been shown to lower our body's levels of coenzyme Q10. It can also be very beneficial for anyone who tends to get headaches and/or migraines and looking for a healthy alternative rather than medication.

Foods to Eat: broccoli, cauliflower, high-quality eggs and tuna

Supplement: CoQ10

4: B-2 Deficiency

Otherwise known as riboflavin. 50% of people with chronic migraines have a pretty big B2 deficiency.

Foods To Eat: asparagus, cremini mushrooms and quinoa

5: Dehyrdation

Your entire chemistry shifts when you're dehydrated. We should be drinking 1 liter of water for every 50 lbs of body weight, your chemistry shifts when you are dehydrated. Drink room temp water with lemon to hydrate and alkalize the system.

Watch me on “The Doctors” episode below for even more info about how to fight headaches with food!

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