When a headache strikes, your first inclination may be to lie down and take pills to help relieve your pain. However, there is a healthier, more natural option that is often overlooked. Rather than reach for your medicine cabinet, head to your kitchen and look for these six foods instead. Not only will they help heal your headache, but they may be able to prevent you from getting them altogether.
Noshing on almonds is a great way to fight off headaches, particularly migraines, according to Livestrong. A one-ounce serving contains 78 milligrams of magnesium, a mineral that plays a crucial role in headache prevention. Dr. David Williams says that if you have a magnesium deficiency, it can increase your serotonin levels, causing vascular spasms that reduce blood flow and oxygen to the brain, which can often result in a migraine. The best way to ensure you don’t have a magnesium deficiency is by eating almonds and other magnesium-rich foods, such as whole grains, spinach, and Swiss chard. The Dr. Oz Show recommends getting 450 milligrams of magnesium a day.
There is a compound in your body called prostaglandin that increases your sensitivity and makes you more aware of pain and inflammation, Bringing You Fitness explains. A great way to combat prostaglandin is by eating cherries. They contain quercetin, an antioxidant that can shield your body from sensitivity and pain by slowing down the production of prostaglandin, Bringing You Fitness reports. Mercola.com adds that cherries also contain anthocyanin and bioflavonoids, which reduce your body’s inflammation the same way aspirin and ibuprofen do. To help ease a headache, Bringing You Fitness suggests eating 20 cherries or sipping an eight-ounce glass of cherry juice.
The next time you have a headache that’s the result of a hangover, make yourself a baked potato, which according to Good Housekeeping contains 610 milligrams of potassium. “Since alcohol is a diuretic, it can not only cause dehydration, but also cause you to lose electrolytes such as potassium. Eating potassium-rich foods can help to alleviate hangover-related headaches,” Erin Palinski, a registered dietitian, told Woman’s Day. Just don’t peel your potatoes! Active Beat notes that most of a potato’s potassium is found in its skin. Additionally, Prevention writes that the carbs in potatoes — one medium potato contains 37 grams — can fight a tension headache by increasing your serotonin levels.
A common cause of headaches is dehydration. The obvious cure is drinking plenty of water, but it’s also important to keep in mind that we get about 20% of our daily water intake from food, states The Huffington Post. By eating water-rich foods that also contain pain-relieving minerals, you may be able to eliminate your headache more quickly. “The natural water contained in both fruits and vegetables contains essential minerals, like magnesium, that are key in headache prevention,” Stella Metsovas, a nutritionist, told Woman’s Day. Slice up some watermelon to snack on, or prepare Greatist’s recipe for Watermelon-Strawberry Water, an ultra-hydrating drink that’s part flavored water, part smoothie.
If you feel a headache coming on, your body may be craving calcium. Human N Health explains that your brain needs calcium to function properly; if it isn’t getting enough, a pounding headache may be your body’s way of calling out for more of the key mineral. If you know you aren’t hitting your recommended daily amount of calcium, Human N Health recommends you start working nonfat Greek yogurt into your daily diet. ABC News also suggests drinking more milk, which contains vitamin B2. Low levels of the vitamin have been known to trigger migraines, notes ABC News.
Sipping two cups of coffee, which is the equivalent to 200 milligrams of caffeine, can help ease a headache, Eating Well writes. Interestingly, a headache occurs when the body releases adenosine, a chemical that causes your blood vessels to become inflamed. Women’s Health reports that the caffeine in coffee is able to constrict your blood vessels, which helps eliminate the throbbing that results from inflammation. Women’s Health also notes that caffeine can increase the effectiveness of pain relievers, meaning that pairing Advil or Tylenol with a cup of coffee may help eliminate a headache more quickly.