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Can food help stop migraines?

May 29, 2010

Ugh, again?

Maybe there is relief!

Of course everyone is different and has different triggers, but more than we think, everything is inter-related. So though it seems like separate issues are at work than diet and exercise, they may work in closer connection than it seems. For instance, some headaches are hormonal- food and exercise, especially regular maintenance, can affect hormones. Some headaches are related to stress. Again, food and activity levels can help alleviate stress. I still get migraines, maybe one every six months, though I never seem to get other regular headaches like I used to all the time. I get them so infrequently now that I hardly recognize the start like I used to. I know it’s a migraine when I start to feel nauseous with the pain and general un-ease. Well, I’m not sure if it’s a migraine or a tension headache, but with the nausea occuring, I file it under migraine. Anyway, I gave myself a huge hard knot in my neck yesterday that turned into nausea after stressing while crunching some household numbers and thinking about debt. I had eaten enough, I felt I had eaten the right foods, looking back though I had certainly not had enough water, and lately I’ve been focusing on taking my cardio and weights to a whole new level and haven’t done ANY yoga, mediation or pilates for 7 days. So all of that combined to give me a little one. I classify that one as little because I was able to breathe through it and massage my neck and body until I fell asleep without taking any medicine, and when I woke up, the pain was gone, though my neck still had tension. It still does, tomorrow yoga is in order. SO the point here is that there are so many things to analyze when it comes to what’s happening in our bodies. I’ve become so sensitive that now anything that hurts, any kind of strange issue and I take it as a sign to change something about what I’m doing. Our bodies and minds are meant to feel good, and I know I need to manage my stress more regularly. I also just happened upon this excerpt while searching for more information on the protein and amino acids in quinoa since I’m trying to build and tone muscle. Quinoa is one of my favorite “grains” which is really actually more of a seed, technically. This fact may explain why it is so high in nutrition and low in glycemic load.


Over at my one of my go-to websites for nutrition information, that I had mentioned earlier, I found all this extra goodness about quinoa and was only then actually inspired to write this post.

Help for Migraine Headaches

If you are prone to migraines, try adding quinoa to your diet. Quinoa is a good source of magnesium, a mineral that helps relax blood vessels, preventing the constriction and rebound dilation characteristic of migraines. Increased intake of magnesium has been shown to be related to a reduced frequency of headache episodes reported by migraine sufferers. Quinoa is also a good source of riboflavin, which is necessary for proper energy production within cells. Riboflavin (also called vitamin B2) has been shown to help reduce the frequency of attacks in migraine sufferers, most likely by improving the energy metabolism within their brain and muscle cells.


Awesome huh? I just wanted protein, but never having another tension headache escalate into nausea would be a-ok with me!


Super spinach salad with almonds: magnesium & tryptophan!

  • Peppermint
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Ginger
  • Fish and fish oil
  • Foods rich in calcium (such as spinach, broccoli and kale)
  • Foods rich in magnesium, such as spinach
  • Oatmeal
  • Garlic


Serotonin, one of our body’s mood-regulating, feel-good chemicals, seems to be lacking in a lot of our systems, because we are so prone to mood swings, depression and headaches. If we don’t want to or can’t go the Prozac route, are there other options for boosting mood with serotonin? There ARE actually foods that can help us raise serotinin levels naturally. Though our bodies don’t get serotonin through foods, the body makes serotonin from the amino acid tryptophan. Good sources of this particular amino acid include:

Cottage cheese provides tryptophan & protein

  • turkey
  • black eyed-peas
  • black and English
  • walnuts
  • almonds
  • sesame
  • pumpkin seeds
  • wheat germ
  • granola
  • cottage cheese
  • egg
  • chicken

Serotonin levels also fall as estrogen levels fall, which could be why migraines seem to creep around at certain times of the month… something to keep in mind so that we can really emphasize these techniques as a preventative measure and see if there is any improvement.



If you hate the gym, no problem!

Exercise also naturally starts the flow of lots of “natural high” juices flowing through our bodies. Serotonin, dopamine, and endorphins give us feelings of euphoria and might also help prevent these nasty headaches. It doesn’t have to be high-impact or terrible; do something you love! Tennis, hiking, swimming, dancing (my mood booster of choice!), rebounding, yoga, kickboxing… find your groove and enjoy the chemical bliss in your body and your brain. If you have a reason that you can’t exercise for a period of time, you can try acupuncture, massage, meditation, or sex to get the good stuff flowing too.


I’m glad you asked. 🙂 Avoiding dependence on caffeine to get through the day might seem daunting but it will get you off a roller-coaster of ups and downs that really mess with your brain and your body in a big way. Sugar- same thing. Sugar comes in many forms these days, which should we avoid? All. As many as possible! Another possible trigger for me last night: molasses. I had about a half a tablespoon of blackstrap molasses (for the B vitamins) with a multi-vitamin yesterday, actually too late in the day maybe. I also had a tablespoon of nutritional yeast… maybe I OD’d on B vitamins…Maybe it wasn’t those, but they’re on my list of suspects. Anyway, I’ve quit soda and coffee and have some tea green, white and herbals teas here and there. Red Bulls, Rock Stars and tons of shots of espresso may be a badge of toughness to some- it shows that your body has become so accustomed that you’re a regular lover of coffee, but possibly also so addicted, so in need of the caffeine to function that a dependency is at work. Another myth that should be dispelled is that tea has as much caffeine as coffee. A Starbucks grande coffee has 300 miligrams of caffeine. An average drip coffee has 115-175 mg. Teas, including green, range from 15-60mg. Caffeine issues can also affect sleep. AND sleep issues can trigger migraines. It all comes full circle again. So I’d say try to wean off of stimulants like sugar and caffeine as much as possible.

I hope everyone can find relief from any and all pain and suffering they are feeling! I’m no doctor, but I love to research these kinds of things, so if you have an ailment or a particular issue happening right now, feel free to comment or otherwise contact me with a suggestion for a future post and I’ll do my best to find some great information! In most cases, there isn’t a cure but “best practices” that will really help alleviate or at least not exacerbate the problems. 🙂


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