Been to a party? Just back from a restaurant? On the field in a baseball match just after the drinks break? Head is aching badly! Why is it? What have you consumed? The food was ‘super-tasty’. There could have been no wrong. But, why this headache? Yes, it is all because of the food you have taken. Yes, it is tasty but it has side effects as well. Here, we discuss the foods that cause headaches. We focus on the foods’ composition and try to explain the cause for the headache. We also suggest a few remedies following which will help you escape a headache without compromising on taste. Listed are the Top 10 foods that cause headache.
10. Refined Sugars
Sugar refining is the process of extracting out the sugar from plant materials and then removing unwanted materials from the extracted raw sugar. These materials include remaining stalk fibres, soil, waxes and bacteria. This process includes washing, boiling, centrifuging, filtering and drying. After this process, most of the plants’ nutritional elements are lost. The sugar is further refined and whitened by being filtered in a water added liquid state. This refined sugar is commonly called ‘table sugar’ or ‘pure sugar’ (in chemical terms) and is devoid to all nutritional elements (vitamins, mineral, fibres and proteins). Intake of refined sugar continuously depresses ‘immune system’, leads to severe headaches and migraines (at times). It also contributes to infertility, increases risk of cancer and one cannot get rid of it (It makes you addictive). Headache is due to reduction in level of oxygen due to constricting arteries around the brain. The constriction is often caused by sudden changes in level of blood glucose. Under normal circumstances, delivery of glucose is kept constant by insulin created in the pancreas, but when the system fails, arteries cramp up, trying to force more flow. Headache is a signal to indicate the ‘Brain’s Distress’. Intake of Refined Sugar continuously (in large amounts) is one of the reasons for ‘system failure’, Headache. The illness which starts off with a headache can go up to strokes or diabetes. Sugar intake should be controlled, and ‘health discipline’ is to be maintained. Alternatives of refined sugar like Coconut palm sugar, Raw Honey and Stevia.
9. Nuts and Seeds (Peanut and Pumpkin Seeds)
Researchers have found evidence that common food like nuts and seeds may be linked to severe headaches in some people. ‘Tyramine’ is the culprit responsible for causing headaches. It occurs naturally in food due to the breakdown of amino acids and is responsible to trigger an immune response and also results in a headache. Nuts have always been a ‘time pass food’. You are on a boring train journey and want to kill time, and then nuts are your ‘best friends’. However excessive eating of nuts will lead to headache and dizziness. Sometimes, small intake of nuts is sufficient to trigger a headache. Sesame or Pumpkin seeds intake can also lead to Headache. These seeds are added in a few dessert items and can trigger a headache if taken in large amounts. However, in a few people they trigger a headache even if their quantity is significantly low. Such people should identify this particular ‘allergy’ and see to it that they don’t consume these particular seeds in any means. Intake of nuts and seeds causes headache/migraine only in a few people.
8. Fermented Soy Products (Soya Sauce)
Soya sauce is a condiment (added to food to give a flavour) produced from a fermented paste of boiled soybeans, roasted grain, brine and Aspergillus Oryzae. After fermentation, the paste is pressed producing a liquid called soya sauce. This originated in China and was used in East and South East Asian Cuisines earlier. Today, it is used in many Western ‘Delicious’ Cuisines. As the western culture has his impact throughout the world, similarly western cuisines with soya sauce as its ingredient has spread throughout the world. If more than 3gm of soya sauce ‘salt’ per Kilogram of bodyweight is found in a human’s body, it can kill that particular human. There have been instances where people were killed after consuming soy sauce excessively. The problem starts with minute headache and may go up to brain swelling and ultimately death. Soya sauce is dangerous even in small amounts. It is mostly used in Manchuria, Chinese Noodles, Noodle Soup, Macaroni and Hotdogs to name a few. Soya sauce can be alternated by Marmite added with water. It gives the same taste and its quite better.
7. Certain Vegetables (Olives)
Certain vegetables can also cause headache. One of them is Olive. Olive is a species of a ‘small tree’ and is cultivated in Mediterranean basin, Iraq and Iran. This vegetable is of great agricultural significance because its derivative ‘Olive Oil’ has a great medicinal value. Spain is the biggest producer of Olives. Olives include species such as Jasmine and Lilacs. Olive oil/Olive vegetable is used for hair and skin ‘treatments’. It is also used for body massage. It enhances your skin, makes it glow and keeps your hair strong and ‘forever’. Olive Oil massage will leave you refreshed and revitalised. People use Olive Oil to prevent heart attacks and cancers. However, Olive has a side effect and may lead to headache if exposed to it for a long time or consumed in large quantities. Apart from headache, Olive oil can burn body parts if used excessively.
6. Aged/Dried/Smoked Meats (Pepperoni)
Pepperoni is an Italian/American food item usually made from cured pork or beef (Chicken/Mutton as well). It is soft, smoky and bright red in colour. Sliced Pepperoni is a famous American Pizza Topping. It is also used in Pepperoni roll and sand witches. Pepperoni pizzas are famous throughout the world and are available at all popular pizza joints. 70,000 pepperoni pizzas are consumed by people every year throughout the world (high). It is high in fat and sodium. It results in weight gain, heartburn apart from headache. It has an effect on unborn babies in the case of the pregnant woman. Pepperoni contains nitrates and nitrates cause headaches initially and migraines at a later stage. Pepperoni has no ‘material’ alternative; so the only alternative is to reduce pepperoni intake. Low pepperoni intake doesn’t harm the body much.
5. Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) – Chinese food
Monosodium Glutamate is one of the most abundant naturally occurring non-essential amino acids. It was recognized as safe by the Food and Drug Administration. Industrial food manufacturers market and use it because it balances, blends and rounds the total perception of other tastes. It is commonly called Aji-No-Moto. It is used in Burgers, pizzas, roasted chicken, fast food, French fries and soups. MSG has resulted in doubling the rate of Diabetes, Obesity in children, high blood pressure and strokes. Headaches are just a small part of it. MSG in small content occasionally is fine but consuming MSG continuously will lead to trouble. Trouble includes headache initially that sometimes transforms to migraines in a few people. Doctor’s advice is to eliminate MSG from our diet completely.
4. Aged Cheeses
Aged cheese is consumed at various levels. Aged cheese enhances the taste of the dish you prepare. Accordingly, aged cheeses are given different names as per their ‘age’. Tabor cheese is 30 days old, Swiss cheese is 3 months old, Tilsit is 6 months old and so on. Aged cheese is also called the ripen cheese and is formed after the unripened cheese undergoes soaking, curing and heating. It is also hardened at times. This particular cheese is used in making sandwiches, burgers and pizzas. Everybody likes to feed on these items as they are mouth watering. However, they could ‘kill’ us if consumed excessively and continuously. Excessive consumption of Aged cheese leads to weight gain, high blood pressure, dairy allergy, amine sensitivity and headaches. Headaches can be severe and ‘forever’ sometimes
3. Artificial Sweeteners
Artificial sweeteners duplicate the taste of sugar usually with less food energy. These are in soft drinks and also as table sugar replacements in restaurants. The Food and Drug is examining it as reports suggest that it poses health problems. Artificial sweeteners have not been approved as food additives. Artificial sweeteners are a blend of chemicals together to give a sweet taste. They are extensively used in ‘Diet’ drinks, soft drinks, candies, puddings, baked items, canned foods and jams. All these have been children’s’ favourite always. These have lots of side effects starting off from headache to heart palpitations to cancer. The headaches are quite severe. They contain an element named ‘Saccharin’ which is responsible for all these.
2. Caffeinated drinks –Energy Drinks
An energy drink is a type of beverage containing stimulant drugs mainly caffeine. They also contain sweeteners and amino acids. They are not carbonated. They provide instant physical and mental stimulation. They might also contain herbs and lots of chemicals. Caffeinated drinks affect heart rates, blood pressure and even mental state. People get addicted to these drinks and its difficult getting rid of them. Red Bull is one famous Energy Drink. Most of the sports players consume these drinks. These days, drinking an energy drink has become a fashion for the young generation. We can see a school going child drink a Red Bull only to ‘show off’ his friends. Red Bull was banned for a while because a basketball player died immediately after consuming the energy drink during a basketball match. Relaxation drinks also contain caffeine, the culprit. Even small amounts of these drinks can lead to dizziness, tremor and headaches. Consumption on a long run can lead to respiratory distress, insomnia and Gastrointestinal upset.
1. Alcohol (Red Wine)
Red wine is made from dark grape varieties and is intense Violet in colour. Red wine production process involves flavour from grape skin. It also involves the grape crushing and destemming. Fermentation and aging are also a part of its production. Red wines are always a part of any ‘rich party’ and compliment the hearty meals. Even a non-alcoholic would be tempted to taste it because of its rich attractive colour, the ‘pride and esteem’ it brings along. It tastes good as well. But, small consumption of red wine gives us acute headache followed by an intense one. The long time side effects are obesity, heart diseases and stroke. Red wine can be ‘once in a blue moon’ but not a ‘daily story’. The ‘graceful’ headache it gives makes it top our list of ‘Top 10 Foods that cause Headache’.