The Connection Between Diet and Headaches

The Connection Between Diet and Headaches - blog

The Connection Between Diet and Headaches

Headaches can really affect how well we live. Many things can cause them, like stress, not enough sleep, and changes in hormones. But, studies show that what we eat might also be a big factor. This article will look at the connection between diet and headaches, including which foods can make them better or worse.

The World Health Organization (WHO) says headaches are very common, affecting about 50% of the world’s population while the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) tells us nearly 1 in 6 Americans have severe headaches or migraines. This is more common in women. Knowing how what we eat affects headaches is key to finding ways to deal with them and live better.

By recognizing what foods trigger our headaches and making smart eating choices, we can manage headaches better. This can really make our quality of life improve.

Understanding Headaches and Their Causes

Headaches are complex and have many potential causes. Headaches come in different types, each with unique signs and triggers.

The main types of headaches are:

  1. Tension-type Headaches: These are very common, featuring a dull pain or feeling of tightness. They often come from stress, muscle tension, or bad posture.
  2. Migraine Headaches: Migraines are severe and cause pulsing pain. They also bring light and sound sensitivity, nausea, and vomiting. A complex brain process leads to migraines.
  3. Cluster Headaches: Cluster headaches are very painful and occur in cycles. They bring on intense, stabbing pain on one side of the head or around one eye.
  4. Sinus Headaches: Inflammation or congestion of sinus cavities causes sinus headaches. They lead to pain in the forehead, cheeks, or nose bridge. These headaches often relate to allergies, infections, or weather changes.

Headaches can be “primary” or “secondary.” Primary headaches, like tension, migraine, and cluster headaches, do not come from other health issues. Secondary headaches are symptoms of other health problems, such as sinus issues or brain tumors.

It’s key to understand the types and causes of headaches. This knowledge helps in preventing and managing headaches. Working with doctors can help individuals find and avoid their headache triggers.

Diet and Headache: The Dietary Link

What we eat can make head pain better or worse. For example, certain foods and meal plans can make you more or less likely to get headaches.

  1. Magnesium: Not getting enough magnesium might make headaches more common. Foods like leafy greens, nuts, seeds, and whole grains are rich in magnesium. They could stop headaches before they begin.
  2. Omega-3 fatty acids: Eating plenty of omega-3s can help lower your chances of getting headaches. This nutrient is in fatty fish, walnuts, and flaxseeds. Adding these to your diet might make headaches happen less often.
  3. Riboflavin (Vitamin B2): Some research suggests taking riboflavin can make migraines less frequent and severe. It might do this by making your cells work better and lowering stress on them.
  4. Coenzyme Q10: Coenzyme Q10 is an antioxidant that may reduce migraine risk. It could work by boosting your cell energy and cutting down on inflammation.
  5. Hydration: Not drinking enough water can trigger headaches. Staying well-hydrated prevents this. So, make sure you drink plenty of water every day.

Beyond specific nutrients, how you eat overall can affect headaches. The Mediterranean diet is especially good for this. It’s full of fruits, veggies, whole grains, and good fats. Foods like these can lower your headache risk. But, eating lots of processed foods, sugar, and bad fats might make headaches more likely to happen.

Diet and Headaches and what make it worse or better

Identifying Dietary Triggers

Certain foods can lead to headaches or migraines. Knowing these triggers is key in managing headaches better. This includes avoiding the food items that cause your headaches. Processed meats with nitrites, aged cheeses, and chocolate are on the list. So are alcohol and drinks with caffeine. These items might change your blood vessels, kickstarting a headache. Not eating on time, skipping meals, and not drinking enough water also up your headache risk.

Different folks react to food in various ways. What gives one person a headache might not trouble someone else. The National Headache Foundation advises keeping a journal. It can help you pinpoint which foods or drinks are your triggers. Try cutting out these suspicious items from your meals and see if your symptoms get better.

Click here for headache monitoring tools you can use.

So, nutrient-specific factors and food can both play roles in causing headaches. By learning your food triggers and staying away from them, you can fight headaches better. This way, you might lower your chances of having a headache or a migraine.

Headache-Friendly Dietary Approaches

There are special diets that might help with headaches.Eating a balanced, healthy diet can manage headaches. This includes migraines too.

The Mediterranean diet is one good way to eat. It focuses on fruits, veggies, whole grains, and healthy fats like those found in olive oil. Also, it includes nuts, and avocados. This way of eating is linked to less chance of getting headaches. It has lots of anti-inflammatory stuff that might stop headaches.

The DASH diet is also good for headaches. It was first made to help with high blood pressure. But, it’s found to help with headaches too. The DASH diet is all about eating fruits, veggies, whole grains, and lean proteins. It’s important to eat low sodium, sugar, and unhealthy fats. Eating this way can make headaches less often and severe.

Some people might also try a low-FODMAP diet. This diet keeps away some carbohydrates that can cause stomach troubles. Doing this could help lower how many headaches you get and how bad they are.

To manage headaches, it’s important to eat a mix of healthy, anti-inflammatory foods. Staying away from foods that might trigger headaches is key. Working with your doctor on your eating plan can really help. This way, you can play an active part in feeling better.

For best medical advice, consult with an affordable healthcare provider.

Managing Headaches Through Nutrition

Changing what you eat and some lifestyle choices can help with headaches. Here’s a list of things to consider:

  1. Hydration: Not drinking enough water can lead to headaches. You should drink plenty of water and have about 8 cups (2 liters) of fluids daily.
  2. Supplementation: Some supplements might help with headaches, especially migraines. The American Headache Society suggests trying riboflavin, coenzyme Q10, and magnesium for their possible benefits.
  3. Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Omega-3s, found in foods like fish, walnuts, and flaxseeds, can lower inflammation. This could help make headaches less frequent and severe. Adding omega-3-rich foods to your diet for better health.
  4. Stress Management: Too much stress often triggers headaches. Ways to reduce stress, like yoga or meditation, can lower your headache risk.
  5. Consistent Sleep Patterns: Not getting regular sleep can lead to headaches. Make sure you sleep enough and maintain a steady sleep schedule to help manage your headaches.

By using these tips, along with changing what you eat, you can better handle headaches, including migraines.


In conclusion, the link between what we eat and headaches is important but not simple. Changing our diet can help reduce headaches, even migraines. To reduce headaches, watch out for foods that might trigger them. These can be processed foods, caffeine, nuts, and cheeses. You’ll also want to eat foods that are known to help, like leafy greens, fatty fish, and those high in magnesium.

It’s not just about the food, though. Also think about how you handle stress, staying active, and drinking enough water. All of this combined helps keep headaches away. Talking to a dietitian or a neurologist can give you more tips that fit your specific needs.

Understanding how what we eat affects our headaches is key. By making smart food and lifestyle choices, you can really change things. Even small, lasting changes can put you on a path to less headache trouble.



  1. Sugar Substitutes Don’t Help Weight Control and May Increase Risk of Heart Disease and Diabetes, WHO Warns 
  2. Mediterranean Diet: Food List & Meal Plan