The diet that clears the headache

Il headache afflicts, with varying intensity and duration, more than 26 million of villagers, 75% of them female. In addition to being more affected than men, women manifest crises with greater intensity, which respond even less to drugs (data from Sin, Society of Neurology, and Anricef, Neurological Association of the country for research on headaches).

«Constipation, sinusitis, stress, insomnia, cigarette smoking, alcohol, cold and over-medication are often at the root of the problem. But it is nutrition that plays a central role, both as a cause and as a preventive tool ", says Dr. Paolo Pigozzi, specialist in clinical nutrition and diagnosis and therapy of eating disorders in Verona, as well as homeopath, phytotherapist and author of the new book All about foods and natural therapies to treat headaches (Terra Nuova Edizioni, € 12,50).

Can all types of headaches have food as a trigger?

"Incorrect eating habits almost always cause headaches. We eat too much, much more than our body needs, often chewing roughly: overeating and fast chewing complicate digestion and one of the consequences is headache. Even intolerances, for example to gluten or lactose, can cause it. Finally, there are foods that can facilitate it regardless of individual predisposition ».

What are these "risky" foods?

«First of all those cooked badly, for example fried in poor quality oils or reused several times, and products rich in poor fats, such as ready-made industrial foods, which the digestive system manages with difficulty and slowness and which unfortunately abound in our diet. In addition, the origin of the headache may be some substances present in food, for example tyramine: it is a compound that is found in alcoholic beverages, preserved fish, processed meats, soups in bags and in foods such as oily fish, crustaceans, chocolate, coffee, mushrooms, tomatoes, figs, avocado, strawberries, berries and ripe bananas.

Also sulfur dioxide is able to trigger a migraine attack: this substance is used during the wine production process, but also to preserve and whiten cod and dried fruit, such as apricots. The problem can also be triggered by sodium glutamate, of which stock cubes, canned meat, ready-made sauces, freeze-dried products and recipes of ethnic cuisine are rich, and nitrites and nitrates used above all to avoid 'browning of stuffed or preserved meat'.

Are there any foods that help prevent attacks?

«Yes, they all come from the plant world and contain substances with antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory, digestive and sedative properties for the central nervous system. Among these are legumes, cereals such as oats, millet, brown rice, barley and buckwheat, vegetables such as asparagus, leafy vegetables, peppers, green radicchio, courgettes, chicory, carrots, lettuce, cucumbers, radishes. And yet fruits including citrus fruits, apples, melon, peaches, plums and grapes.

The first benefits are obtained after two or three weeks of a diet rich in these foods, which must be preceded by a few days of deep purification to free the body from substances that can actually promote headaches. For example, a weekend in which they are consumed can be effective in this sense only apples, one every 1-2 hours to be exact: they regulate metabolism, stimulate intestinal functions, are diuretic and restore cholesterol values ​​as well as blood pressure ".

Is there any dietary advice for sinus-induced headache too?

"In these cases it is necessary to act on the cause: therefore to the foods already suggested in general, ginger, which frees the airways, miso, a food based on fermented soy that counteracts inflammation because it improves the quality of the intestinal microbiota, must be added. and oil seeds (such as those of sesame, sunflower and pumpkin), which provide zinc, an essential mineral for the proper functioning of our immune system ».

Could there also be a link between headaches and constipation?

“The altered transit can cause headache and a sensation of a circle in the head. Here, too, it is necessary to intervene at the origin: therefore, a fiber supplement is needed, ensured by unrefined cereals, legumes, oily dried fruit and "woody" vegetables, such as asparagus and chicory to promote proper bowel activity ».

What if the cause is insomnia?

«The diet should be enriched with foods rich in B vitamins, able to act on the functionality of the central nervous system: among these there are whole grains, brewer's yeast, wheat germ and egg yolk ».

Is there any trick to follow in the summer?

«Be careful with cold foods. If we eat ice cream quickly or drink an iced drink in large sips, a typical headache can be triggered, mainly located between the forehead and the root of the nose. The reasons are not yet clear, but some clues come from genetic research: a study published in PLoS Genetics has identified a gene, Trpm8, involved in the regulation of the ability to detect cold and at the same time associated with the risk of suffering from headache. Pending confirmation, the advice (especially if you are predisposed) is refrain from consuming cold or frozen foods and drinks».



1 barley coffee + 1 slice of toasted raisin bread + 10-12 almonds


1 fishing


1 plate of mixed salad with a pinch of whole sea salt and 1 teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil + 80 g of whole barley with sautéed seasonal vegetables + 2 tablespoons of well cooked beans


2 slices of melon + 1 buckwheat biscuit


1 plate of vegetable soup with 70 g of brown rice + 1 soft-boiled egg + 1 plate of cucumber and radish salad with a pinch of whole sea salt and 1 teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil


«A lemon is squeezed, the juice is diluted with a little water and so it is drunk in the morning on an empty stomach. Every three days the juice of another lemon is added until there are 5-7 fruits. Then we proceed in the opposite direction: every three days we remove a lemon until we get back to one », suggests Dr. Pigozzi.


According to the International Headache Society there are three types of primary headache. "That tensiva it is the most frequent and concerns 90% of cases»Explains Doctor Pigozzi.

“It manifests as pain described as a weight or contraction of various areas of the head or neck muscles. Then, there is migraine, with attacks often pulsating and associated with nausea, vomiting, light and sound discomfort. It usually affects only one half of the head and in 30% of cases it is accompanied by the aura, that is, by alterations of the senses or motor skills or language. Finally there is the cluster headache, with successive crises: painful, it is probably connected to the excessive dilation of the blood vessels of the skull ».

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