According to some studies, what we eat and when we eat play a significant role in headaches. Over activity of the arteries in the head has been found to cause pain and wildly fluctuating blood sugar levels can prompt these vessels to spasm in susceptible people.
Dietary triggers do not necessarily contribute to headaches in all patients, and particular foods may trigger attacks in certain individuals on occasion. Be your own expert by keeping a log of the foods you have eaten before a headache attack, and see whether the removal of these foods from your diet reduces or eliminates your headaches.
Diet and Headache
Caffeine, a compound commonly found in coffee, tea and chocolate, has been linked to headache. Researchers believe that people who are prone to headaches may be sensitive to the effects of caffeine. Limiting drinks or foods containing caffeine is generally recommended. Food additives and naturally occurring food chemicals can also trigger headache in some people. If you suspect that your headaches may be linked to your diet, it is important to seek medical attention so that your sensitivities can be properly diagnosed.
Most cells in the body need to burn glucose with oxygen to produce energy. The digestive system breaks down the carbohydrates we eat into glucose. This simple sugar is then transported to each cell via the bloodstream. A gland of the endocrine system called the pancreas secretes a hormone called insulin, which helps the glucose to migrate from the blood into the cells. If the food eaten is absorbed quickly into the bloodstream, then the pancreas has to respond with a strong hit of insulin. The sudden drop in blood sugars seems to encourage the arteries in the head to constrict. During a headache, visual disturbances such as the characteristic aura may be due to this arterial constriction.
Headache attacks have been linked to the presence of certain naturally occurring amines in foods. These nitrogen containing substances occur universally in animals, plants and bacteria, and many contribute to the characteristic flavours and aromas of foods. The amines in foods that are known to have significant effects are tyramine, phenyl ethylamine and histamine. It seems that migraine sufferers may not be able to metabolise these substances quickly enough, so they remain in the body longer, thus causing headaches.
The link between meals and headaches is not always obvious. In fact, you may experience a headache before you realize you are hungry. If you skip a meal, your blood sugar level may drop too low for your brain to function comfortably. As your blood sugar drops, you may be one of many people who experience headaches as a result. In order to boost the amount of glucose to the brain, the body releases hormones which may also cause an increase in blood pressure because they narrow the arteries. This narrowing of the arteries can contribute to headaches. So the best way to cure this problem is to eat meals at regular intervals, and try to eat a balanced diet.