Nutrition & Headaches | Διατροφή & Πονοκέφαλοι
There are several ways in which nutrition can be related to headaches:
- Nutrient deficiencies: Deficiencies in certain nutrients like magnesium, riboflavin (vitamin B2), and coenzyme Q10 have been associated with headaches. A systematic review and meta-analysis of 10 studies found that magnesium supplementation may be effective in preventing migraines, while a review of 5 studies found that riboflavin (vitamin B2) supplementation may also be effective. (Sun-Edelstein & Mauskop, 2009; Hershey et al., 2009)
- Dehydration: Not drinking enough water can cause headaches, so it’s important to stay hydrated throughout the day. A systematic review and meta-analysis of 14 studies found that dehydration can cause headaches in both adults and children. (Popkin et al., 2010)
- Skipping meals: Skipping meals or not eating enough can also lead to headaches, as low blood sugar levels can trigger headaches. A study of 38 individuals with migraines found that skipping meals or eating irregularly was associated with more frequent headaches. (Varkey et al., 2011)
- Caffeine: Consuming too much caffeine or suddenly stopping caffeine intake can lead to headaches. A meta-analysis of 10 studies found that caffeine can be effective in treating acute headaches, but excessive caffeine intake can lead to headaches as well. (Wober et al., 2012)
- Food triggers: Certain foods or food additives can trigger headaches in some people, such as monosodium glutamate (MSG), nitrates, and tyramine. A review of 17 studies found that certain foods and food additives, such as MSG and nitrates, can trigger headaches in some individuals. (Martin et al., 2016)
Overall, these studies suggest that proper nutrition, including hydration, regular meals, and avoidance of trigger foods, can play an important role in preventing headaches. If you experience frequent headaches, consider speaking with a healthcare provider or registered dietitian to determine if dietary changes or supplementation may be beneficial for you.
In addition to the food additives mentioned earlier, there are several other chemicals that may trigger headaches in some individuals. These include:
- Alcohol: Consuming alcohol, particularly red wine, can trigger headaches in some individuals, possibly due to the presence of histamine or other compounds.
- Aspartame: Aspartame is an artificial sweetener found in many diet sodas and other low-calorie foods. Some individuals report headaches after consuming aspartame, although the evidence is mixed.
- Nitrites: Nitrites are commonly used as preservatives in processed meats, such as bacon and hot dogs. Some individuals may experience headaches after consuming these foods.
- Sulfites: Sulfites are used as preservatives in many foods, including wine, dried fruit, and pickled foods. Some individuals may be sensitive to sulfites and experience headaches or other symptoms after consuming them.
- Monosodium glutamate (MSG): MSG is a flavor enhancer commonly used in Asian cuisine and other processed foods. Some individuals may experience headaches or other symptoms after consuming MSG.
It’s worth noting that the evidence linking these chemicals to headaches is not always consistent, and some individuals may be more sensitive to certain substances than others. If you suspect that a particular food or chemical may be triggering your headaches, consider keeping a food diary to track your symptoms and speaking with a healthcare provider or registered dietitian for guidance.