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Health & Wellness Articles  ›  Mind & Body

5 Healthy Habits That Can Cause Headaches

These Good-for-You Habits Might Be a Pain in the Head

-- By Robin Donovan, Health Writer
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Packing Your Lunch
While brown bagging is great for your wallet—and can help you avoid empty calories, sodium and fat from fast food havens—the lunch meat in your sandwich may contain nitrates, another migraine trigger. Check labels for this ingredient as you shop, and search for "nitrate-free" versions of sliced meats, bacon, hot dogs, sausage and other processed meats. Ready to experiment? Try a soy-based meat replacement or craft your sandwich from fresh roasted turkey or chicken—not the packaged deli slices. Get more healthy lunch ideas.

Hitting the Gym
Regular exercise can help prevent chronic illness, boost your mood and lengthen your lifespan, among a host of other benefits. But while consistent sweat sessions are great for you, they can also trigger head pain if you've increased your workout intensity quickly, worked very intensely or become dehydrated. Overall, regular exercise has been shown to help diminish recurrent headaches, so don't limit your trips to the gym. Instead, keep an eye on your fluid intake, especially when increasing the length or intensity of your sessions.
 
Headaches are a nuisance to some and a truly debilitating health conditions for others. Treatment can take time, because many of the successful prevention strategies rely on careful trial and error. If your headaches are migraines, dietary triggers may be a key, whereas other types of headaches may be more likely to be triggered by dehydration, tension and other habits. Not sure? If headaches persist, be sure to speak with your physician.

Sources
Department of Internal Medicine: Metabolism, Endocrinology & Diabetes, "Hypoglycemia (Low Book Sugar) in People without Diabetes," www.med.umich.edu, accessed April 12, 2013.

Drescher, MJ;  Elstein, Y. "Prophylactic COX 2 inhibitor: an end to the Yom Kippur headache," Headache, 2006 Nov-Dec;46(10):1487-91.

Johns Hopkins Medicine News & Information Service, "Caffeine Withdrawal Recognized as a Disorder," www.hopkinsmedicine.org, accessed April 12, 2013.

Juliano, Laura M.; Griffiths, Roland R. "A Critical Review of Caffeine Withdrawal: Empirical Validation of Symptoms and Signs, Incidence, Severity, and Associated Features." Pyschopharmacology (2004) 176: 1-29.

Medline Plus, "Migraine," www.nlm.nih.gov, accessed April 12,2013.

NHS Choices, "10 Surprising Headache Triggers," www.nhs.uk, accessed April 12, 2013.

Sam Houston State University Counseling Center, "Headaches," www.shsu.edu, accessed April 12, 2013.                                                                                                                     

University of Minnesota, Taking Charge of Your Health, "Migraines," http://takingcharge.csh.umn.edu, accessed April 12, 2013.
 
 
 
 
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About The Author

Robin Donovan Robin Donovan
Robin Donovan is a Cincinnati-based freelance writer and magazine journalist with experience covering health, medicine, science, business, technology and design.

Member Comments

  • I experience the sleep one. - 6/19/2014 8:23:14 AM
  • Thanks for sharing. Good information. - 12/9/2013 4:51:17 AM
  • A comment for anyone who lowers their sugar and starch intake suddenly - the sudden loss of retained water will make you low on sodium, and this generally can cause headache and fatigue, as well as sore muscles. You'll need to drink some broth or sports drink to get your electrolytes balanced again. - 12/1/2013 12:44:18 PM
  • I get headaches when it's hot but I doubt it's because I'm dehydrated. I drink a LOT of water and I always have a bottle on hand. - 6/27/2013 11:08:55 AM
  • I sometimes get headaches after I run. I was blaiming allergies but now I wonder if it's dehydration espeically since this tends to happen more in the summer than winter.

    Just for fun I weighed myself before and after my run yesterday, I lost 1 pound of water running. Well I didn't lose it, it was there on my shirt but that's a lot of water really. - 6/27/2013 10:28:24 AM
  • KAT773
    Interesting article, but I found the nhs.uk article (listed as a resource for this article) much more informative. For instance, the nhs.uk article listed other triggers that could be in your packed lunch, such as aged cheeses, diet drinks or dark chocolate. - 6/27/2013 1:54:48 AM
  • Yes really good info. I need to stay motivate all the time. I had a headache yesterday. I went to long before eating after church. Went visiting for father day. - 6/17/2013 4:32:41 PM
  • This is some great information, particularly about sleeping and exercising; I think the biggest takeaway is to be consistent, which is something I struggle with. Knowing that it's going to help reduce headaches is definitely a motivator. - 5/28/2013 3:39:29 AM