How to Prevent Headaches

Some ways to prevent getting headaches include drinking more water, improving posture, exercising, and eating a healthy diet with less inflammatory or processed foods.

For people who regularly get headaches, what is the most important thing you recommend they do or not do to start preventing them?

Dr. Luke Stringer: Obviously, every person and case is going to be case by case, right? But kind of a good rule of thumb when treating headaches is let’s start with hydration. Are you hydrated? America is the number one fatigued nation in the world, and one of the most under hydrated. Not that we don’t have access to the water, we just don’t consume a massive amount. And I’m talking about top 50 socioeconomic nations. So, do you drink enough water? So, a good little piece of math, little equation we can do is your body weight in pounds divided by two, ounces of water you should be trying to drink a day. If you are suffering with headaches try and do that every day from anywhere from two to four weeks. And, obviously, monitor the change.

The second thing that we recommend looking at is what we are putting into the body. So, how is our diet essentially? So is our diet full of processed foods, artificial sweeteners, and those things that break us down? So, if you drink a lot of soda, you eat a lot of processed foods, you’re eating foods that are high in high fructose corn syrup, all those things create inflammation within the body. So, I would start kind of, essentially, figuring out any triggers within our diet, or at least trying to tidy up our diet. So, minimize soda intake, minimize processed food intake, try and just eat whole non-processed foods, essentially.

And then lastly, how is your posture? Do you sit for 50 hours a week at work not getting up or taking any breaks? Do you feel the headache gets worse towards the end of the day than the beginning of the day? If you are sitting for a living, chances are you’re going to have poor posture. And if you’re in poor posture chances are at some point throughout your working life, you’re going to develop a headache. So, what can we do? Get your ergonomic setup at work checked out, make sure you’re taking postural breaks at work, do have a sit/stand desk? And you’re just addressing those important things when it comes to posture.

Will drinking more water help prevent headaches?

Dr. Luke Stringer: Again, it’s all case by case, but you can’t go wrong with being hydrated, right? So, if you’re getting headaches, I’d say the first thing you should try to do is trying to get the appropriate H2O on board. So again, that equation, body weight in pounds divided by two is how many ounces of water we should be trying to drink a day. So, if anyone listening here are having headaches try and do that for two to four weeks, keep a journal and monitor; how are your headaches? Are they less often? Are they less intense? And, obviously, if you’re seeing less often, less intense headaches, chances are you have been drinking enough water. And that’s, obviously, a good place we can start.

Can improving posture, stretching, and exercising help prevent headaches?

Dr. Luke Stringer: Absolutely right, posture is the window to our health. And, classically, a lot of our patients who come in with poor posture, essentially, have headaches. So, if you’re in poor posture it, certainly, needs to be addressed because chances are, if you have good posture there is a good chance that you’re not going to have headaches.

Now, what does having good posture essentially entail? Well, obviously, to get in good posture, but not there then a good stretching routine would help. And then, obviously, postural reeducation exercises, specifically if you’re at work, to break up the sitting day would certainly help. So, if you’re in poor posture, you address it through a good stretching routine, and a good rehab routine, do exercises, and we can improve on that posture there’s a very good chance that, again, you could have an improvement in your headaches.

Can sticking to a meal schedule and a healthy diet help prevent getting headaches?

Dr. Luke Stringer: Absolutely. Poor diet and the things we’re putting into the body can have a huge effect, specifically on headaches. So, I think we discussed it earlier on in the podcast that a diet high in processed foods, and artificial sweeteners and flavors, full of those inflammatory kind of toxic foods can certainly cause headaches. So, again, we discussed this earlier, if you’re suffering from headaches and you want to try and address it on your own at home without the help of a healthcare professional, start with the hydration and then start with your diet. And if you’re drinking a lot of soda, a lot of pop, try and cut back on that. You’re eating a lot of processed foods, cut back on that. If you’re eating a lot of food with high fructose corn syrup and all those kinds of nasty artificial sweeteners and flavors cut back on that.

And we have a lot of patients who modify their diet and, usually more often than not, a modified diet full of whole healthy foods, full of antioxidants, is going to help you with your headaches.

What are some other tips people can follow to help prevent getting headaches?

Dr. Luke Stringer: I think we kind of touched on that. I’d say the big three are making sure that you’re getting appropriate hydration, H2O intake. Make sure you’re tidying up your diet, so it’s not full of those toxins. And then, really make an effort to get in good posture. And the last thing you do is try and pinpoint where you’re getting the headaches. Is it after certain types of foods? Is it after certain types of drink? Is it during work, regardless of what you work is? If you keep a log and a journal of when you are getting the headaches, you might be able to kind of pinpoint your triggers. And if you can highlight the triggers and address those through lifestyle changes or treatment, then there’s a very good chance that your headaches can be cleaned up and improved.

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