Did you know that there’s no such thing as a “normal” headache? That’s right! A headache is a symptom; it’s your body’s way of telling you that something is wrong. In recent years, health care professionals have discovered that all headaches have one thing in common – STRESS! That stress can be physical, chemical or emotional. Figuring out which stressors cause your headaches is the key to living headache free!
How Exactly Does Stress Cause Headaches?
Do you ever get headaches after drinking a nice glass of red wine or eating a certain type of food? That’s not surprising given that some foods and additives can cause headaches. Common examples are: caffeine, artificial sweeteners, red wine, and MSG. Food sensitivities can also cause headaches. All of these are chemical stressors.
Do you ever wake up with a headache? Or get a headache after a long day in front of the computer. Poor sleep ergonomics, the wrong type of pillow and poor posture are all physical stressors that can contribute to headaches. Other common examples of physical stressors are: car accidents, head injuries, and falls.
Have you ever noticed that you get a headache after a heated argument, confrontation or stressful day? These are all examples of emotional stressors and they too can contribute to headaches.
Be a Headache Detective
Unfortunately, there is no “one size fits all” approach for getting rid of headaches. Many people reach for aspirin or Tylenol when they feel a headache coming on. Medication temporarily masks the pain but doesn’t correct the root cause of the headache. When you rely on medication, the headaches will keep coming back.
As a headache sufferer, it’s important for you to start noting the little things in your life that could be contributing to your headaches. Start a headache journal, and take note of any details surrounding your headaches, things like: what you ate or drank, time of day, your sleep, mood, etc. Over time, you may start to notice patterns and this can helpful in identifying your personal headache triggers.
Top 5 Diet, Health and Lifestyle Tips for Headache Prevention
1. Consult a Wellness Chiropractor. Misalignments in your spine cause headaches. A Chiropractor will do a comprehensive examination of your spine, and nervous system, identify any misalignments and work with you to develop a care plan to address the root cause of your headaches. Chiropractic is a safe, effective, drug free way to manage headaches.
2. Stay Hydrated! It is estimated that a whopping 75% of North Americans are chronically dehydrated and dehydration can contribute to headaches. How much water do you need? 8 – 10 glasses a day is a good general guideline. Try to carry a water bottle with you everywhere you go. Add slice of lemon or cucumber to jazz it up a little.
3. Stress Less! Stress not only contributes to headaches but it also puts your health at risk. Unfortunately, stress is a part of life. You may not be able to control the stressors in your life but you can definitely learn some stress management techniques. Some healthy ways to relax and re-charge include: a good workout, meditation, spending time in nature, or even watching a funny movie.
4. Reduce Inflammation Naturally! Inflammation also causes headaches. Whenever possible, choose whole, unprocessed foods such as: fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, and healthy fats. Do your best to avoid processed foods, which increase inflammation and often contain headache triggers like: MSG, artificial sweeteners, and additives. To reduce inflammation naturally, reduce or avoid the following foods:
• Processed, packaged and prepared foods
• Hydrogenated and Trans fats
• Smoking, Caffeine and Alcohol
• Fried Foods
• Sugar and Artificial Sweeteners
• Dairy Products
• Non Fermented Soy Products
5. Consider a Food Sensitivity Test. Food sensitivities are a common headache trigger. Food sensitivities are often difficult to identify because the reaction can be delayed by hours or even days. Knowing the foods you are sensitive to is an important step towards eliminating headaches once and for all. We now offer now offer the HEMOCODE™ Food Intolerance System at our office. HEMOCODE ™ is the most comprehensive approach toward the managements of food sensitivities, testing 250 unique foods and additives. Click here to learn more.
Ready to Start Working Towards a Headache Free Life?
Read through the list of tips a few times and then circle any of the habits you suspect may be contributing to your headaches. Trust your gut on this one! One by one, work on incorporating each of the habits that are circled into your daily routine. Be sure to track your progress in your headache journal and celebrate your success along the way! I look forward to hearing your success story.