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Headaches from food or drink?

Posted: June 15, 2016
By: Stefany Monroy former intern

               Have you ever thought about how certain meats may be the primary trigger for your constant and annoying headaches? Almost everyone at some point in their life have experienced a headache, and we all know the most common factors contributing to headaches can be stress, anxiety and not getting enough sleep, water or food. However, there are also certain foods that may be the primary cause for your headaches.  

              The majority of processed meats, like hot dogs, bacon, salami, pepperoni, ham and other cured meats contain preservatives such as nitrates. These nitrates can cause the blood vessels to dilate, setting the stage for a headache. You might be asking yourself, how does this happen? Well, our body produces nitric oxide, which is a gas that expands blood vessels. Nitrates increase the production of nitric oxide and the result appears to trigger headaches in sensitive individuals.

              Many drinks and even dried fruit contains a preservative called sulfites.  This is also seen in some wine and champagne.  These can cause major headaches within a few hours after eating or drinking something with sulfites.

              The worst of all is MSG, or mono-sodium glutamate.  This is common in fast foods and in stir fried “Chinese food.”  This preservative can cause significant headaches as well as irritability and hyperactivity.  The big issue with MSG is that there are dozens of names for it.  Look them up here:

The best way to pinpoint the food that is triggering your headaches is by keeping a diary. Studies have shown that keeping track of what you eat for even a few days can help you make changes in your diet. If you are experiencing these constant headaches, try using a notebook, or take advantage of technology and try one of the many special headache apps to keep track of what you are eating. 

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