Let’s imagine for a moment that your body is a house with a smoke detector. Upon sign of smoke it sounds an alarm giving you a chance to do something before you are engulfed in a full-blown fire.
Removing the batteries from a smoke detector because it is screeching at you, is like taking a pain reliever for your headache. It is similar to putting a band-aid on the headache and is not solving the cause of the problem. In time, the causes of the problem get worse and so does the headache.
There are many different types of headaches. Right side, left side, front, back of the head, wrapping around the entire head, covering the top of the head. For all the different types of headaches, they all have one thing in common. They hurt! Sometimes you can work through them, and sometimes you have to go lay down in a dark room. Headaches stink. Sometimes it’s not even the headache that get you. Sometimes it’s the nausea or vomiting. Maybe it’s the irritability or the lack of concentration at work that bothers you the most. No matter what they feel like for you, they are miserable and headaches also affect your family and work.
How much better would you be at work without them? Or, how much better of a parent would you be if you didn’t have headaches?
The majority of headaches are ‘cervico-genic’, meaning that the structural cause is from the cervical spine, or the neck region. We would encourage you to call TODAY to be evaluated for a structural cause of your headaches. It’s time to get your life back!
We also wanted to let you know that there may be other causes of your headaches, so we put together our top ten list of bad habits that contribute to headaches. Only we couldn’t keep it to 10, so here are the:
The Top 12 Health and Dietary Habits That Contribute to Headaches
Some of these habits may surprise you. My recommendation is that you first read through each one of these habits and then decide if each habit could be contributing to your headaches in any way. Now I understand that you won’t know for sure if each one is contributing at the time that you read it the first time, but you’ll probably have an intuitive feeling about it immediately or even an internal revelation as time goes on. If the habit could possibly be contributing to your headaches because it is your habit, circle it. One by one, work on eliminating the habits that are circled, noticing your progress. The more habits you can eliminate, the more you are moving towards a headache-free life, life as usual with no headache pain!
1 . Bad sleep habits cause headaches.
Sleeping on your stomach or with your pillow bunched up is a sure way to a headache. What happens is that your neck becomes twisted for long periods of time as you sleep, putting pressure on the nerves, blood vessels and vertebrae in your cervical (upper) spine. That pressure sends messages to the brain that there’s something that needs to be addressed, and a pain signal is sent to your head. Presto! You have a headache and your neck hurts as well.
The solution is sleeping on your back with a pillow that supports your neck fully. You may also sleep on your side, but check with us at the office about the proper sleeping position that won’t create headaches. If you bring in your pillow to our office, I’ll check it to see if it’s part of the reason you have headaches. For example, a pillow that is too thin or too fluffy will contribute to headaches because it doesn’t support the cervical curve in your neck. The cervical curve is a natural C-shaped curve in your neck. If the pillow is too flat, that pillow flattens your cervical curve. If the pillow is too fluffy, it exaggerates your cervical curve.
2. Too much caffeine and/or chocolate causes headaches.
Scientists don’t know exactly what it is about caffeine that can cause a headache, but they do know that there is a clear connection. The big question is what is too much coffee? If you’re drinking six cups a day, that’s too much! Four cups a day is too much!
Three cups of coffee a day may be too much as well. For some people, any coffee is too much; the caffeine triggers a headache and keeps them away from a headache-free life.
If you are drinking too much coffee, it’s important that you decrease your coffee consumption slowly. DO NOT STOP COFFEE COLD TURKEY! If you stop drinking coffee cold turkey, you will get a headache and it won’t be just an ordinary headache. It will be a monstrous headache!
The best way to cut your coffee consumption is to decrease slowly by 1/2 cup a day.
The same principle can be applied to chocolate. If you eat chocolate every single day three times, decrease it one time a day. Chocolate contains caffeine and you can develop that monstrous headache from its withdrawal.
3. A diet that contains too much monosodium glutamate (MSG), Nutrasweet, Aspartame, diet sodas causes headaches.
Very clever researchers discovered that certain chemicals, especially MSG added to Chinese food is a strong headache trigger in many people.
Foods that contain MSG might not necessarily list “MSG” or “monosodium glutamate” on the label. Instead, you’ll see: hydrolyzed vegetable protein, natural flavorings, sodium caseinate, yeast extract, hydrolyzed yeast, autolyzed yeast, hydolized oat flour, calcium caseinate, hydrolyzed plant protein, hydrolyzed protein. Protein isolates of any type may contain MSG, even soy protein. If you eat processed foods, it will be rare for you to see a label without one of these! Every fast food chain uses it in their food ingredients!
You may lose to gain. What I mean by this is that you may lose your present life in the meal department to gain a headache-free life. What you gain is learning how to cook and prepare foods from scratch. You gain the freedom to do things you couldn’t do before and you can do them without restriction. You gain the affection lost by family members who didn’t understand your headaches.
Nutrasweet and aspartame are unnatural sugars synthesized in the laboratory. There have been thousands of reports about headaches and even brain tumors linked to aspartame.
The “sugar-free” label really isn’t so sweet after all. Avoid anything that has a list of chemicals in it! If you’re truly serious about eliminating your headaches, try one week without any chemicals. That includes diet sodas, which are nothing more than a chemical concoction!
4. Low blood sugar from not eating regular meals causes headaches.
When you don’t eat regular meals, you get energy from stored fats and carbohydrates. This happens automatically in response to low blood sugar from not eating. Keep a journal of your diet and look for a pattern of headaches that appear when you don’t eat breakfast, skip lunch or dinner, or go to bed hungry.
The best diet you can eat is one that supplies you with three meals a day and snacks in between.
5. Low blood sugar from eating too many carbohydrate foods in a meal causes headaches.
Carbohydrate foods are foods such as breads, pasta, cakes, cookies, candy, muffins, rice, beans, whole grains, tacos and tortillas. Starchy vegetables such as peas, corn, potatoes, acorn squash, and other winter squashes also contain high levels of carbohydrates. Milk products are another good source.
It’s okay to have carbohydrate foods in your diet, but limit them to a maximum of three or four servings per meal. Some people must limit them to one or two to become headache-free. Watching your diet for the number of carbohydrates eaten in any one meal can be a big revelation into why you have headaches. Too many carbohydrates cause headaches by raising insulin levels that lower blood sugar too fast and also increase inflammation in the body.
Here’s an example of too many carbohydrates in a meal:
Steak, big baked potato with butter, green beans, peas, corn, salad, and apple pie a la mode.
Here’s your headache-free meal:
Steak, 1/3 to 1/2 baked potato with butter, green beans, salad, one-fourth slice of apple pie a la mode.
6. Low blood sugar from not enough protein in the meal or in the diet causes headaches.
Many people believe that it’s not a good idea to eat red meat, so they eliminate it from their diet. Grass-fed red meat is an excellent source of nutrients, including omega-3 fats that prevent headaches! The problem is that when many people eat less meat, they don’t substitute other protein foods for the red meat. Other protein foods include fish, chicken, turkey, wild meats, eggs, cheese and dairy products.
If you don’t have enough protein in a meal, your body cannot repair itself. Without enough protein in a meal, the composition of that meal is primarily carbohydrates and fat. And we already know what too many carbohydrates in a meal can do: cause a headache!
Make sure you eat some form of protein at every meal. Even adding one or two eggs for breakfast can change your life and your headaches! See how good your day goes when you have enough protein! Eat at least three ounces (about the size of a computer mouse) at each meal and you’ll have the minimum amount you need each day.
7. Food allergies cause headaches.
Food allergies will trigger a headache quickly. If you’re allergic to a food, whether it’s yeast, milk, peanuts, wheat, or sugar, it’s possible that you will have a headache after eating that food. In children suffering from migraines and epilepsy, eliminating offending foods will result in a reduction of seizures.
What makes food allergies more complicated is that a food essentially stays in the body for four days so you could be reacting to a food eaten four days ago!
8. Faulty elimination causes headaches.
For a minute, think back to a time when you were constipated. How did you feel? Miserable! I must tell you how important it is to have a bowel movement at least twice daily. If you don’t, you are constipated!
What happens inside the body when you are constipated is not pretty! All that waste matter sitting inside your intestines is rotting! Forgive me for being so graphic, but I want you to understand this. There is a process in the body called diffusion that happens inside the cells that works like this: wherever you have a higher concentration of something, it will flow to an area of lower concentration. When you have a high concentration of wastes in the intestines, they start “polluting” the rest of the organs in your abdomen.
Those wastes in your colon are in such a high concentration that they start “flowing” to other places in the body. Countless patients have told me over the years that part of the reason why they got headaches was because they were constipated.
So stop carrying around those old meals as a suitcase in your colon and start feeling better. You will clearly have fewer headaches as a result. Some simple ways to do this:
- When you get up in the morning, drink two to three 8-oz glasses of water within five minutes. This will result in a bowel movement within about 30 minutes.
- Obtain slippery elm bark powder from the health food store and mix 1 to 2 tablespoons in 1/3 cup applesauce. Eat once or twice daily. This works for diarrhea or constipation and is gentle enough for babies.
- Obtain a colon cleanse formula and use it for at least six weeks.
- Start eating celery or carrot sticks with lunch and dinner, or add 1 cup cooked vegetables to every meal.
- Add 3 oz. aloe vera juice to every meal.
9. Dehydration causes headaches.
Your body uses water to dissolve EVERYTHING except fats and fat-soluble vitamins. When you don’t have water, you can’t dissolve toxins and get them out of the body.
xYour blood has a high percentage of water. When your water levels are only 5% lower, your efficiency suffers by 30%. Aim for 1 oz. water for every 2 pounds you weigh. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, you need a minimum of 75 oz. water per day. That’s equivalent to a little over nine 8-oz glasses water. If you drink three in the morning when you wake up, you only have six more to go for the rest of the day.
10. Malnutrition causes headaches.
Vitamin and mineral deficiencies cause headaches. I’m not going to go through every one of the vitamins and mineral deficiencies that do this because you’ll rush out and try to buy them. The problem with that thinking is that it doesn’t work. You must have balanced nutrition, a balanced amount of vitamins and minerals to make nutrients work. A good vitamin/mineral supplement plan is important.
11. Stress causes headaches.
I understand that you may be experiencing a very difficult time in your life; during difficult times, there’s a lot of stress. For every problem, there’s a solution. Some of the top ways to beat stress are:
- Exercise! When you exercise, you purposefully stress your body, teaching it how to overcome this stress. That’s why you feel so good after exercising!
- Let all your frustrations be dissolved by taking a walk in the mountains or by visiting a lake or river. Go somewhere peaceful; the energy of that place will be transferred to you.
- Play an instrument or listen to music or sing.
- Jump up and down on a rebounder and yell at the top of your lungs! With three or four screams, you’ll notice the stress is gone.
- Add an extra B vitamin to your diet: pantothenic acid. This B vitamin, which is vitamin B5, helps support the adrenal glands and makes a big difference in stress levels in three days. Take 500 mg.
- Laugh belly laughs!
12. Processed foods cause headaches.
Processed foods cause headaches by causing inflammation; the more inflammation, the more frequent you’ll have headaches. The way that processed foods cause inflammation is by the chemicals in them called advanced glycation endproducts, or AGEs. These AGEs are worse than free radicals, causing mini explosive reactions inside the body’s organs that lead to aging, heart disease, cancer, diabetes and inflammation.
Once you commit to not eating processed foods, your life actually becomes simpler and you end up saving money on the grocery bill. Your lunch and dinner meals are similar: protein food (meat), grain, vegetable, and fruit for dessert. The simpler they are, the easier they are to prepare. For example, one meal could be chicken breast, brown rice, green beans with almonds, applesauce, and beverage.
While you’re cutting out processed foods, you’ll also start to notice that you aren’t aging fast anymore. Your waistline is returning without trying. You have more energy and more concentrated brain power. And you’re headache free!
Diet that Reduces Inflammation
A diet that controls inflammation is high in antioxidants from fruits, vegetables and foods in that category that are known for their anti-inflammatory properties. Incorporate these foods in your diet and monitor the number of headaches you have.
Fruits: apples, acerola berries, fresh pineapple, guavas, grapefruit and rhubarb, kiwi fruit, lemons, limes, oranges, kumquats, black currants, blueberries, raspberries, mulberries and strawberries, papaya, cherries, and tomatoes.
Vegetables: spinach, sweet potatoes, bell peppers, cabbage, bok choy, onion, leeks, garlic, green onions, broccoli, cauliflower, broccoli sprouts, brussel sprouts greens.
Herbs & Spices: basil, oregano, mint, cloves, turmeric, cayenne peppers, chili peppers, parsley, rosemary.
Fish and Meats: Cod, halibut, salmon, snapper, bass, whitefish, herring, trout, sardines, grass-fed beef, pork, naturally-raised (not on grain) chicken and turkey.
Whole Grains: brown rice, whole wheat, buckwheat, barley, rye, millet, spelt.
Fats: extra virgin olive oil, avocado, hazelnuts, almonds, walnuts