There are few things more frustrating than a bad headache, especially on days that you can't afford to turn out the lights and rest for a few hours. Thankfully, there's an all-natural way to relieve and even prevent headache symptoms that might surprise you: food. Certain foods contain compounds and vitamins that can ease headache pain, whether it's just a bit of pressure or a full-blown migraine. Below are seven of the most effective headache-fighting foods.
Ginger has been revered for its various health benefits for centuries, and it's no surprise that the potent root can help relieve headache pain. The compounds found in ginger help by blocking prostaglandins, which contribute to muscle contractions and inflammation. Ginger is also a great option for those who suffer from severe migraines, since it combats nausea, dizziness, and vomiting.
One of the main causes of headaches is dehydration, which is often accompanied by a deficiency in electrolytes such as potassium - especially if your headache is related to alcohol or caffeine consumption. While most people think of bananas when they hear "potassium," potatoes actually contain almost twice as much potassium as bananas do, as long as you leave them unpeeled. So next time you're suffering from a headache, considering adding a baked potato to your next meal.
It's no coincidence that caffeine shows up in most over the counter headache medicine. Coffee is both a vasodilator and vasoconstrictor, which means that it can relieve the pain of headaches and migraines by temporarily shrinking blood vessels in some areas and expanding them in others. But don't go overboard - coffee is also a diuretic, and drinking too much of it can leave you dehydrated, which may make your symptoms worse.
Dairy products have a number of beneficial vitamins and minerals that can aid in headache and migraine relief. The calcium and potassium it contains helps to offset the effects of a high-sodium diet, which can lead to tension headaches and dehydration. Studies have also shown that people who consume at least one serving on dairy each day have a significantly lower risk of migraine headaches compared to those who eat little dairy.
Salmon and other fatty fish, such as mackerel and trout, contain several of helpful headache-fighting nutrients. The essential fatty acids found in fish help to reduce pressure-causing inflammation, while the B vitamins can reduce the severity and frequency of headaches and migraines.
Switching out processed grain products for whole grain foods is one of the best ways to tackle diet-related headache pain. The fiber and complex carbohydrates in whole grain foods such as cereal, brown rice, and oatmeal help your body to regulate blood sugar and replenish the glycogen that your brain uses for energy. Studies have also shown that the magnesium in whole grains can reduce the frequency and duration of headaches.
All kinds of fruit can help relieve pain since their high water content fights off dehydration, one of the leading causes of headaches. However, cherries in particular make for an excellent choice thanks to a compound called quercetin, which boasts power anti-allergy, anti-inflammatory, and pain-blocking properties. In fact, some studies suggest that a handful or two of cherries may be an effective as an aspirin at alleviating headache symptoms.
A bad headache can ruin anyone's day, and it isn't always possible to take time away to recover. Eating the right foods can help alleviate headache pain and even prevent them from happening in the future. The list above is a great place to start when it comes to adding headache-fighting foods to your diet.