It ain’t an ordinary headache. It’s the kind that refuses to leave and sure makes a weekly visit. We are talking about the unwelcome guest–migraine, the worst of all kinds. No amount of balm, vapor or painkillers is ever enough. Your nerves will stop throbbing when they have to, no medicine helps. However, making lifestyle and dietary adjustments can help one in reducing the frequency and intensity of the pain.
We got in touch with Dr Prashant Makhija, Consultant Neurologist, at Wockhardt Hospital Mumbai Central to guide you on everything you need to know about migraines.
Food that triggers migraines
If you’re suffering from migraines you already know that skipping meals and fasting makes it even worse. Dr Makhija explains, “Aged cheeses, salty and processed foods can trigger a migraine. Likewise, food additives such as sweetener aspartame and even the preservative monosodium glutamate (MSG), that is present in many foods also trigger it.” To your surprise, red wine and dark chocolate also do. So keep your intake in check.
Yes, direct sunlight and sleep deprivation do trigger chronic headaches. But did you know that change in weather (humidity in particular,) change in altitude or barometric pressure, flickering lights, loud noise, strong smell, and stress can cause migraines? These are factors beyond your control, but play a major role in inducing pain.
Foods that help to battle migraine
“Foods rich in Vitamin B-2(Riboflavin) and Magnesium are particularly helpful. Eating fruits, vegetables and legumes can be beneficial. Also, eat fewer fatty foods”, suggests Dr Makhija. Here’s what you need to include in your diet to avoid frequent migraine attacks.
1. Salmon has abundant omega-3 fatty acids which help to control migraines.
2. Whole grains, beans, and leafy dark green vegetables are all high in magnesium, and according to the research, people who have low magnesium get migraines.
3. Mushroom, carrots and sweet potatoes help you deal with headaches and control migraines.
4. Caffeine can be helpful in shrinking swollen blood vessels in one’s brain and can help tackle migraine. But in moderation, avoid excess intake.
Foods to avoid:
Dr Makhija said, “It’s hard but try to avoid chocolates. Other than that, preservatives, additives, cheese, red wine, smoking, alcohol, citrus, and processed foods are better to avoid.”
How to cure migraine if one doesn’t have medicine handy
You may not like the taste of ginger, but it works wonders. Dr Makhija explains, “It can help you manage nausea, vomiting, and migraine. Drink ginger tea or include ginger in the diet. Coriander seeds added to the hot water can also be used for inhalation. It relieves pain. Or one can also have coriander tea too.”
And lastly, adopt a healthy lifestyle. Follow a regular schedule, eat, sleep and exercise on time.
Adequate sleep for 7-8 hours will help you get rid of the headache. Avoid stress, and opt for relaxation techniques such as yoga and meditation. Avoid triggers, if weather conditions are unfavourable, avoid going out. And more importantly, avoid fasting and skipping meals.