The Wrong Kind of Food Can Bring on Headaches

      January 04, 2020 08:35

      Many everyday foodstuffs and stimulants can cause headaches unless people consume them in moderation because they agitate blood vessels in the brain and affect the nerves.

      Cho Soo-jin at Hallym University Medical Center said, "If you suffer from headaches even though there are no major causes of stress, you need to look at what you are eating."

      The causes differ between people, but a common factor is cerebrovascular change. That means that the expansion or contraction of blood vessels causes pain by agitating nerves connected to their walls. The brain contains the largest number of blood vessels among all the organs in the human body, so the head is the most susceptible to pain.

      Koh Ki-dong at Gachon University Gil Hospital said, "Blood vessels in the brain contract when we eat cold food, a typical example being ice cream headache."

      But other ingredients in food can also cause blood vessels to expand or contract, and most of them are unfortunately found in stimulating and tasty food.

      Chu Min-kyung at Yonsei University's Severance Hospital said, "Most of the greasy and sweet food we crave when we're stressed contains ingredients that agitate blood vessels, so if we eat too much of it we become even more susceptible to headaches."

      Which food and how much of it can cause headaches varies from person to person.  Alcohol, sugar and caffeine can all bring on or exacerbate headaches. But suddenly stopping coffee consumption on weekends or holidays can also lead to severe headaches due to caffeine withdrawal.

      Skipping meals or gorging are other causes. Going without food for an extended period of time causes blood-sugar levels to drop, so blood vessels contract in order to conserve glucose, which in turn agitates the nerves and can lead to headaches.

      Gorging or eating late at night leads to blood concentrating in the stomach to digest food and draining from the brain, which can also cause headaches.

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