Have you ever suffered from a headache? It may not be debilitating but it can sure feel like that some days. If you suffer from regular headaches there are a few simple things you can try to help reduce the severity and frequency.
Here are our top 6 tips:
Water is essential for life! Humans can only survive for a few days without it. It is suggested that inadequate water intake can disrupt fluid balance in the skull and brain which can result in a headache. This is why maintaining a state of hydration is so important for our cognitive functioning. Focus on increasing your water intake through the obvious – H2O! Did you know that herbal teas also count towards your daily water intake? Bonus! Including some high-water content fruit and veggies such as celery, cucumber, tomatoes, melon and citrus fruits will also help to up your daily water intake.
Magnesium is a mineral that is involved in neurotransmitter functioning within the brain. Consequently, a deficiency in this mineral may play a role in the pathology of headaches by altering the release of neurotransmitters and effecting the function of serotonin receptors (our feel-good hormone). Some studies have shown that people who suffer from migraines and headaches often have insufficient intake or absorption of magnesium. Focus on incorporating dietary sources such as wholegrains, nuts (cashews), seeds, green leafy vegetables, beans, lentils and dark chocolate.
The human brain relies on glucose as its main source of energy. When the carbohydrates we eat are metabolised, glucose is produced and then delivered to the brain. Therefore, glucose metabolism is necessary to help our brains function optimally. A diet low in carbohydrates can result in symptoms such as headaches, fatigue and low energy. In saying that, when it comes to carbohydrates it is important to think about the type and quality of the carbohydrates we are choosing. Our JSHealth favourites include brown rice, quinoa, oats, buckwheat and starchy veggies such as sweet potato, pumpkin, peas and corn.
Globally, caffeine is the most widely consumed stimulant. Reliance and cravings are established when the brain expects its next dose. If this is not met, withdrawal symptoms such as headaches can result. Research suggests that the mechanism of caffeine-withdrawals that cause headaches can be stabilised after 2 weeks of avoiding caffeine. Decreasing intake is best achieved gradually to lessen the negative symptoms associated with withdrawal. Something else to take into consideration is that caffeine is also a diuretic (increases excretion of urine) when consumed in large amounts. This can lead to dehydration if you’re not drinking adequate amounts of water, which we have discussed above, can result in headaches. Some great alternatives if you’re looking to cut down include herbal teas such as peppermint, chamomile or dandelion chai tea (caffeine free). Be mindful of decaf as this still contains small amounts of caffeine.
Have you ever noticed after a long day in the office or a little too much time scrolling on Instagram, your head is spinning? There is an association between the use of electronics that have screens and a high prevalence of headaches, especially among young university students. Extended, consecutive periods of time staring at a screen can lead to muscle tension in the eyes. Not allowing yourself time to recover from this tension, can lead to back pain and headaches. We can totally appreciate this may be part of your job, and believe me, it is part of mine too. However, a few things you can do to allow your eyes to recover include: standing up from your desk every 30-60 minutes, looking outside at the greenery and setting yourself screen time boundaries. When you get home from a long day, go for a walk without your phone or put your phone in another room while you drink some tea, cook or read.
Something we have to be really mindful about is our posture. It can be really easy to forget, especially when sitting at a desk all day staring at a screen. Slouching for long periods of time places 3 times more force on the muscles and joints surrounding our cervical vertebra than sitting with an upright posture. The forward bending movement of the head, applies pressure on the muscles and joints which may possibly lead to tension headaches, neck pain, cervical headaches and/or decrease the neck’s mobility. Here are a few ideas to remind yourself to sit up straight: write yourself a post-it note and stick it on your desk, get your work friends to consistently remind you to sit up straight, sit on a fit ball instead of a desk chair or buy yourself a back-support pillow.
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