If you suffer from migraines, you’ve likely explored all the different causes of headaches and migraines and have made changes to your life accordingly. Maybe you started drinking less alcohol or you stopped taking birth control to see if it would help with your migraines. One way you can potentially improve your migraines is by changing your diet. Changing your diet might also help improve your overall health!

Learn which diet changes can reduce migraines.

bowl of healthy salad with avocado

Eat Fresh Foods

One of the first ways you can improve migraines and headaches in your life with a changed diet is by eating more fresh food. Processed foods contain different triggers of migraines. For instance, meats like sausage, bacon, and hot dogs contain nitrates. Aged cheeses and red wine contain tyramine. Chocolate contains beta-phenylethylamine, and artificial sweeteners like aspartame and sucralose are all known triggers of migraines.

When you make foods from scratch and reduce processed food intake, you have more control over the ingredients that go into your body. Eating more fruits, vegetables, and lean meats can greatly reduce the occurrence of headaches and improve your overall health. When you begin eliminating processed foods, pay attention to how you feel when you eat them next time.

Eat Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Some studies suggest that eating foods that fight inflammation can help reduce migraines. For example, omega-3 fatty acids are known to decrease inflammation while omega-6 fatty acids can increase inflammation. By eating more foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids such as flaxseed, olive oil, walnuts, and salmon and fewer foods that contain omega-6 fatty acids such as corn oil and vegetable oils, you can reduce migraines.

Avoid MSG

If you tend to get a migraine every time you eat Asian food, the culprit is likely monosodium glutamate (MSG). MSG is a flavor enhancer found in soy sauce, bouillon, some packaged foods, and Asian foods in general. It’s hard to identify MSG in all foods because it might be labeled as “all-natural preservatives,” “natural flavoring,” “hydrolyzed protein,” or “hydrolyzed fat.” Symptoms usually start within 20 to 25 minutes of eating MSG and include facial flushing, headache, tightness or burning sensation in the chest, and abdominal discomfort.

The form of MSG can play a role in your symptoms. MSG more commonly causes symptoms if it’s in liquid form because solid food delays the absorption of MSG.

Stay Hydrated

One of the biggest triggers of migraines is dehydration. By simply staying more hydrated by drinking more water throughout the day, you can potentially avoid a lot of migraines. It’s recommended to drink at least 64 ounces of water per day although your intake might vary based on certain factors. For instance, if you exercise vigorously, it’s hot outside, or you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, you will need to increase your intake.

You don’t have to drink just water to stay hydrated though. You can drink herbal teas, carbonated water, or eat more fruits and vegetables.

Don’t Skip Meals

Intermittent fasting might be all the craze right now, but not eating when you’re hungry can lead to a huge headache down the line. When your body goes too long between meals, it can cause your blood sugar to crash which will result in a migraine. Experts recommend eating five or six meals throughout the day to prevent hunger-related headaches. If you don’t like to eat breakfast first thing in the morning, eating a snack before bed can help reduce morning headaches.

Pay Attention to Caffeine Consumption

Caffeine consumption can also play a role in regular headaches and migraines. For instance, if you drink coffee every morning and then suddenly stop, you might experience a caffeine withdrawal headache. On the flip side, if you drink too much caffeine, it can cause a headache. To play it safe, try not to drastically increase or decrease your caffeine intake in your daily life.

Track Personal Triggers

An easy way to determine if food is actually the cause of your migraines or headaches is by keeping a food log. Every time you eat anything, write it down. Then if you develop any symptoms like a headache or something else like brain fog, or lethargy, make sure to make a note. Keeping a food log can help you pinpoint which foods cause headaches and migraines, and also any gastrointestinal problems. You might learn that you’re gluten intolerant and should get checked for celiac disease.

Still Suffering From Migraines? Get Headache Treatment in Fort Atkinson

If you’re avoiding foods that cause migraines and you’ve improved your diet and you still experience frequent headaches and migraines, it might be something else causing them. If you experience headaches and migraines frequently as well as jaw pain, neck pain, back pain, tinnitus, worn, chipped, or cracked teeth, or a bite that feels off, it might be TMJ disorder.

The only type of food that might improve TMJ symptoms is eating soft food or a liquid diet. Aside from that, changing your diet won’t help improve your symptoms at all. Instead, you need TMJ treatment.

On the other hand, frequent headaches and migraines might be an indicator that you have sleep apnea. Symptoms of sleep apnea include loud snoring, feeling tired throughout the day, difficulty concentrating, and mood swings.

During a consultation with Dr. Stafford, she will evaluate your symptoms, risk factors, and more. Then, she will provide you with a comprehensive exam and recommend additional tests if they’re needed.

Once you receive your diagnosis, we can provide you with TMJ treatment or sleep apnea treatment in Fort Atkinson. Please contact us at (920) 563-7323 to book an appointment today.