There’s no denying that headaches are a nuisance, but they can also be a sign that something needs to change – whether that is in your nutrition or lifestyle routine, or both!
For many women, changes in hormone levels during the menstrual cycle can bring on headaches or migraines, especially around ovulation and in the latter half of the cycle.
During the first half of the menstrual cycle estrogen levels rise and then drop after ovulation. This drop in estrogen also decreases serotonin, which makes our nerves in the brain more sensitive, and can trigger headaches or migraines.
Prior to menstruation in cycling women, inflammatory chemicals rises substantially which precipitates menstruation, however these changes in inflammation can leave some women feeling tired, achy, and may cause a headache.
Another common cause of headaches is allergies and food sensitivities. Histamine (a compound released in reaction to exposure from certain toxins) is a big component of allergic reactions and can be another root cause of headaches.
Estrogen and Histamine
Estrogen can trigger the release of histamine, and reduce DAO which helps to clear histamine. In this case, histamine stimulates the ovaries to increase estrogen – a vicious cycle that can set you up for recurring headaches and migraines.
To prevent and relieve headaches, it is important to:
- Manage stress levels
- Maintain a healthy sleep routine
- Stretch regularly, and reduce tension in upper back muscles
- Incorporate movement and exercise into your daily routine
A few nutrition tips that you can use to prevent headaches:
- Reduce or eliminate inflammatory foods such as sugar
- Improve your gut health
- Drink 2-3L of water a day
- Balance blood sugar levels using protein at each meal
- Increase intake of fibre rich foods, like veggies and beans
- Work with a practitioner and use a therapeutic diet to help get to the root cause of your headaches
To learn more about finding the root cause to fix your headaches, book a session with our team!
Written by Taryn Guzik, BA, RNCP registered nutritionist who combines evidence-based nutrition strategies, with realistic guidance to help support women achieving optimal health! Edited by Dr. Kristin Spark ND Naturopathic Doctor.