The Anti-Headache Diet

Get relief without pills or prescriptions with this healthy eating plan.

Posted on | By Dr. Joel Fuhrman | Comments ()

Over the last 25 years, thousands of individuals have recovered from chronic headache syndrome using my recommendations. Frequently, these suffering individuals have traveled from doctor to doctor seeking relief and often have tried multiple drugs prescribed by doctors specializing in headaches. Routinely they report the drugs eventually stop working or the side effects were intolerable. They often have visited acupuncturists and herbalists and other heath professionals; even attempting dietary modifications they were still not able to obtain lasting relief.

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Some of my severely suffering headache patients had previously been hospitalized by their neurologists at renowned medical institutions and were given intravenous medications and experimental drugs in their search for relief. Even among these sickest and most severe headache patients, my success has been very impressive. I estimate more than 90% of patients have achieved a complete recovery or improved so that their headaches are now very infrequent. However, a contributory factor in their pain could occasionally be musculoskeletal imbalances and structural issues leading to muscle spasm and nerve compression.

Besides the patients I have seen in my medical practice, there are many who have resolved their headaches with the dietary modifications they learned in my books, Eat for Health or Super Immunity. This article will give an overview of my approach to headaches and hopefully offer hope and a solution to more individuals who suffer with headaches. The difference with this approach is that nutritional excellence enables the self-repair potential of the human body; this is not merely avoiding triggers. 

What Type of Headache Does This Plan Help?

It’s for any kind of headache. The difference between tension and migraine headaches is really just the severity of the symptoms. They aren’t caused by different things, migraines just are more severe. Headaches as well as many other symptoms occur in response to a biochemical stress; the headache symptoms are the body's efforts to mobilize and remove tissue irritants in the brain.

Who Is This Diet Right For?

 A nutritarian diet is for anyone who wants to prevent and reverse serious illnesses and push the envelope of human longevity. It is designed to maximize exposure to the nutrients humans need to heal and repair cells and slow aging. It is primarily designed to prevent cancer, but the side effects are better health, reversal of diseases and a favorable body weight. This nutrition plan is best learned in my latest book, The End of Dieting.

Step 1: Eliminate All Caffeine

We need the body to flush out tissue irritants, and caffeine stops this from occurring. Though caffeine may make you feel better temporarily, it perpetuates and exacerbates the problem. You may get a headache from withdrawing from the caffeine as the toxins are released, but then your headache threshold will immediately decrease. The more caffeine you consume, the more you lower your headache threshold, meaning almost any small stress can create a headache. That means you have to stay away from soft drinks, caffeinated teas and coffee until you have not had any headaches for at least a month. Then, if your diet is healthy enough, you can typically get by with one serving of tea or coffee a day. 

Step 2: Eliminate Meat, Dairy, Peanuts, Chocolate, Sweets and Baked Goods for Two Weeks

These are trigger foods for many headache sufferers, but also processed foods and animal products can expose us to toxins and don't contain the phytochemicals and antioxidants needed to fuel brain detoxification.

Animal-protein digestion floods the body with acids and wastes that can pass the blood-brain barrier. Cutting back on meats and other animal products enables the body to reduce the excess nitrogen waste products that exacerbate headaches. Later, you can consume animal products in small amounts. This doesn't just mean meat, but also egg whites, chicken and fish. It is necessary to significantly curtail the amount of animal protein eaten to lessen nitrogenous wastes that can irritate brain cells.

Dairy, peanuts and chocolate are all rich in tyrosine, which can trigger headaches in some people. Fewer people are sensitive to the tannins in wine and dark beans, which in some cases also has to be eliminated.   

High-glycemic carbohydrates, especially commercial baked goods made with sweeteners and white flour, create inflammation in the brain and also should be eliminated. 

Two weeks is the minimal time to really be super careful with your food choices, because in this time frame, we are going to replenish your body with nutrient-rich foods. We want your body to have a chance to heal and repair itself before giving it more food-derived acids and toxins to deal with. Superior nutrition enables the body to have enough support to handle more of these substances without causing headaches.

During these two weeks, you will feel worse before feeling better. This probably will last about two to four days, but it's important to work through it because it’s your body going through withdrawal and that’s a good and necessary thing. It will help you feel better in the long run. For those individuals on headache medication, it may take considerably longer to slowly cut back on medications. The point is that you have to feel worse before feeling better because it can be uncomfortable, and trigger headaches are caused by withdrawal from caffeine, other toxins and medications. This discomfort is right-directed; meaning it is essential for the self-cleansing process that enables you to be cured of your headaches permanently.

Article written by Dr. Joel Fuhrman