Headaches 1: Ingredients to Avoid

Headaches 1: Ingredients to Avoid

’Tis the season to[1] have headaches, so I thought I’d offer you a little relief[2] with this three-part blogpost:

Everyone has a headache at one time or another and about 10% of the population suffer from a recurrent problem. As such, headaches are one of the great evils[3] of humanity. However, the term ‘headache’ describes a variety of conditions that are potentially caused by a whole series of different factors or a combination of these.

Headaches usually reflect an imbalance or deficiency in some part of our bodies. For this reason, while the short term solution may be to take a painkiller[4], in the long run[5] it is much better to try to identify the problem that has caused this frustrating symptom.

Eating Relief

According to some estimates[6], three quarters of headaches are caused by an allergy to some type of food. The most common culprits[7] are milk, wheat[8] and eggs. If you suffer from regular headaches it is worth experimenting[9] with your diet to see if you can identify and eliminate the ingredient that is causing your headache. To do this, keep a food diary and cut out specific foods one by one. None of the recommendations made here can adversely affect your health and most of them will improve[10] your wellbeing even if they are not directly related to your headache.

When experimenting with the elimination of an ingredient from your diet it is worth remembering[11] that the positive effects will not be felt immediately. What’s more, you should be sure to eliminate all sources of[12] the ingredient not just the most obvious ones (e.g. caffeine is not just found in coffee but also in tea and soft drinks). However, a word of warning[13]; eliminating caffeine too quickly from your diet can cause withdrawal headaches[14].

Most people who are allergic to alcohol, caffeine and wheat8 are aware of[15] their problem. The following ingredients may also cause allergic headaches:

Tyramine. This substance is found in chocolate, cheese, eggs, red wine and onions.

Monosodium glutamate. This additive can cause headaches and has also been associated with more serious conditions[16] such as epilepsy.

Nitrites. These are found in fertilizers and above all[17] in smoked food.

Other people may have a low tolerance for the hormones and antibiotics that are used in the industrial production of meat, butter, cheese, other dairy products[18] and eggs. Consuming organic food should relieve[19] headaches caused by these factors.


Heavy Metals

Heavy metals can seriously affect your health as well as causing headaches. Cadmium is one metal to watch out for[20]. Refined foods often have higher levels of cadmium than wholemeal[21] foods. Moreover[22], the refining process often eliminates ingredients that reduce the negative effects of cadmium, such as vitamin C and zinc. Another source[23] of cadmium is cigarette smoke.

Fish and seafood from rivers and coastal waters often contain harmful[24] levels of cadmium, mercury and lead[25] because these organisms tend to accumulate the heavy metals that contaminate our waters. Mercury is also found in some fungicides[26], which is just one reason why it is important to wash fruit and vegetables thoroughly[27]. The best way of reducing the effects of heavy metals is again to consume organic food rich in zinc, calcium and magnesium.

[1] ’tis the season to – it’s the time of year when we typically

[2] relief – (in this case) alleviation, mitigation, succour

[3] evil (n.) – misfortune, affliction

[4] painkilleraspirin, paracetamol, acetaminophen (US English), etc.

[5] in the long run – in the long term, as a permanent solution

[6] estimate (n.) – approximate calculation

[7] culpritguilty party, element to blame

[8] wheat – (Triticum aestivum) grain/cereal from which bread is typically made

[9] it is worth experimenting – you should experiment, it is a good idea to experiment

[10] to improve sth.make sth. better, enhance sth.

[11] it is worth remembering – you should remember, it is a good idea to remember

[12] source of – (in this case) food containing

[13] a word of warning – be careful

[14] withdrawal headacheheadache that is a symptom of ceasing to take a drug

[15] to be aware of – be conscious of

[16] (medical) conditionmedical problem

[17] above all – especially

[18] dairy productfood and drink made from milk

[19] to relieve – alleviate, mitigate, reduce

[20] to watch out for – be vigilant against, be careful with

[21] wholemeal – organic, ‘natural’

[22] moreover – furthermore, besides, what’s more, in addition

[23] source – originator, producer

[24] harmfuldangerous

[25] lead – (Pb.) type of soft metal

[26] fungicidesubstance for killing fungi

[27] thoroughly – well


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