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Got a headache? Blame it on your diet

Dietary changes and certain foods can trigger off that throbbing feeling. Suffering from headaches or migraines every now then? Well, you're not alone as many people complain of such problems. Leaving aside obvious reasons like sinusitis, stress and mental tension, little do people know that their diet could be a culprit too. Surprised? CT tells why you should be more watchful of what you eat to avoid that throbbing pain in your head. A headache is a discomfort or a pressure-like sensation in the head. A migraine is a common type of headache that usually occurs on one side of the head. Dietician Dr Sunita Dube agrees that one's diet can affect headaches and says, "A family history of migraine, apart from stress, food and beverages may be responsible for up to 30 per cent of migraines. If you consider some other triggers such as hormonal changes, stress, sleeping habits, and depression, it's possible that the percentage is actually higher." One of the most common reasons for headaches due to dietary changes is suddenly switching to a very low calorie diet, in other words, crash dieting. Agrees consultant nutritionist Niti Desai, "This can lead to headaches, especially if these diets cut down or eliminate carbohydrates completely. The brain can only use carbohydrates as fuel. Headaches can also set in due to low blood sugar levels. Also, if you start skipping meals or have long intervals between your meals, headache sets in. Even a very low water intake can trigger headaches." Tyramine is an amino acid that has been thought to trigger headaches by reducing serotonin levels in the brain and affecting the dilation of blood vessels. Because of their connection to migraines, tyramine containing foods are important triggers. These include red wine, cheeses, chocolate, alcoholic beverages, and certain processed meats. Dr Dube says that red wine contains tyramine, phytochemicals called phenols, which may be the real triggers. For some people, drinking any kind of alcohol can bring on a migraine. Other compounds in beer, whiskey, and wine that deplete levels of serotonin (the happy hormone) in the brain could also be triggering migraines.

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