What you eat can cause headaches, and people eating raw food are as susceptible to diet-related headaches as anyone else. Particularly in the case of migraines, there are specific foods that can bring on headaches, while others may help soothe them. To help your headaches, you'll need to examine the way you eat and determine whether raw foods help or harm your head.
Headache and Diet
If you're susceptible to headaches and migraines, your diet can be a trigger. According to the Australian Better Health Channel, diet-related headaches are often due to fluctuating blood sugar and caffeine withdrawal. Chemicals such as monosodium glutamate and other additives may increase your risk of a headache. A raw food diet tends to eliminate all of these risk factors, because raw foods don't contain additives, caffeine or excess sugar.
Switching to Raw Foods
Many people experience headaches after making radical changes to their diet. If you've recently switched to raw foods, your headache may be due to low blood sugar or caffeine withdrawal. A reporter for The Guardian attempted to eat raw foods for a week. She described her headache as "blinding." According to the raw foodists she interviewed, this is a common side effect of the change in diet habits.
Raw Diet and Headaches
If you've been on a raw food diet for an extended period and are beginning to experience headaches, you may have a nutrient deficiency. A representative for the American Dietetic Association told the New York Daily News that raw foodists can be deficient in calcium, vitamin D, vitamin B12, iron, zinc and protein. A 1999 survey of raw foodists also found that they tend to have low body weight. As reported at the American Academy of Neurology conference, people with low body weight are more likely to have headaches and nausea than people of normal weight.
Nutrition and Migraine
The United States Agricultural Research Service says that there's an important link between nutrients in the body and migraines. These include calcium and potassium, but the most important link seems to be magnesium. It's been shown that a magnesium-poor diet can cause changes in your brain waves, and that about half of migraine sufferers have low magnesium levels. Magnesium is especially found in leafy green vegetables, so raw foodists are likely to have healthy levels of this essential nutrient.
If you're on a raw food diet, you may be eating high levels of nuts, fermented foods, beans, figs, raisins, avocados, plums, citrus or bananas. Conversely, if you're not a raw foodists, a raw diet can help you avoid cheeses, pizza, coffee and cola, sausage and pepperoni, alcohol and foods containing MSG. All of these foods may trigger migraines. If you suffer from persistent headaches, cut each individual food type from your diet to see if your pain decreases. Consult a medical professional for more guidance on dietary triggers.
- Better Health Channel: Headache and Diet
- The Guardian: A Raw Deal
- New York Daily News: Raw Food Diet May Lead to Nutrition Shortfalls, Say Experts
- Annals of Nutrition & Metabolism: Consequences of a Long-Term Raw Food Diet on Body Weight and Menstruation
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: Agricultural Research Service: Migraines, Sleeplessness, Heart Attacks -- Magnesium?