Today’s post is going to be about headaches. I am going to talk about my personal experience of dealing with such a debilitating problem during many years and about ways of how I managed to solve it, mainly by means of changing my diet and lifestyle.
Ever since I was a kid, I struggled with headaches and fevers which came along with them. I remember that my eyes constantly felt wet during early stages of my life due to severe fevers. In my childhood I seldom felt pain free, it became sort of a norm for me. My eyesight was not great either, it was -4.
This was all back in Russia, where the climate was quite cold, which probably worsened my initially weak condition. Then my mother took me to live with her in the mediterranean island of Cyprus. Due to a milder climate, fresh air, and the fact the my mum gave me a lot of fruit and vegetables to eat, I started feeling a lot better. My headaches still remained, but their symptoms diminished, no longer did I have watery eyes, my eyesight improved.
Like all the other kinds I went to school, however unlike most of them, I still missed quite a lot of days due to my headaches. I even remember how one of my teachers commented on the fact that the number of my absences was above the norm.
My diet at the time was pretty heathy by common standards – I ate homemade meals that my mother prepared. Apples and oranges were a daily norm for me. If it was meat and dairy, it was the best quality one could get. Every week, however, I was allowed to eat potato chips and some fast food. I ate grains on a daily basis in one form or another – be it cereals in the morning, some wholegrain bread or pitta.
Having grown up with this headache problem and having felt all the facets of pain in my head, as an adult I began solving it for the first time in many years. Becoming a vegetarian and later a raw vegan helped a lot in dealing with my health problems including headaches. They became lighter and shorter in duration but still bothered me when I had them. Raw foods diet helped me understand that the definition of healthy food is different for everyone.
At first I could not make a connection as to where the pains were coming from. It seemed that I was doing everything correctly, eating healthy foods and there was no reason for them to appear. I was even thinking that I had some sort of a disease, but luckily my mother had instilled in me the thought since my early days that diseases are not there, that it is something else that can be dealt with naturally by means of herbs or good habits.
Doctors consulting her regarding my health, did not not really help her in solving my health issues. Thus she became a strong believer that the body can be only cured naturally. I tend to agree with these thoughts.
I started noticing that I was feeling pain only after having certain foods. Having a small food diary really helped me track my symptoms and see the cause and effect chain closely. Learning to avoid some groups of food really helped me in having a happy pain-free life. Below is my list of products that trigger my headaches and which I tend to avoid.
Overt fats – nuts, seeds, avocados, coconut meat
During my transition to raw foods, this was my ‘bread’ and a wonderful comfort food. However when I was consuming nuts, I still felt pains after their consumption. The amount that I ate was quite big, more than 100 grams at one sitting. It was hard to eat less and limit myself. It left me craving even more. This was doing no good to my headaches and health in general.
I noticed that 80-10-10 principle by Douglas Graham helped in solving the problem of my fat dosage. He claimed in his book that a healthy percentage of fat in the diet is about 10%, which corresponds just to about a couple of nuts a day or half of an avocado. Consuming more is not optimal for human health and leads to inflammation, according to his theory. This is what I have been observing my entire life, and what my body was telling me all along, but I was not noticing its signals until I became a raw vegan and started educating myself on the topic. I still get headaches from time to time, but I know exactly where they are coming from. I have knowledge, therefore I have power to solve my problems.
Today, in order to be healthy and pain free I can allow myself, something where the overt fat dosage is really small, for instance: a raw date and nut bar or two, a coconut milk and fruit smoothie, a Siberian pine nut milk beverage, a handful of antipasti olives or some olive oil over my salad. This is optimal for me. I do not tend to eat overt fats on their own anymore, only as a part of a dish.
Greens and seaweeds
Greens such as celery, rocket salad, tender greens, etc. tend to be nearly on every health food list, it seems. Although many people and dieticians consider this category as miracle foods, my personal experience does not support this claim. Greens always cause headaches in my body. The darker, the worse. I suppose that it is my personal reaction to them. Green seaweeds are no exception – wakame, sea spaghetti – all cause pain, unless eaten with salt. Nori seaweed seems to be an exception here for me.
Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, white or purple cabbage etc.
This food category also contributes seriously to my headaches, due to its high content of sulphur. Dr. Robert Morse’s iridology theory supports my experience really well. If one’s body is loaded with extra sulphur as a side effect of past medication, which can be seen in one’s eyes as a yellow ring around the pupil, then one should avoid sulphur in the diet, as it causes further unpleasant symptoms and pains, and impedes the detoxification process. This unique information from Dr. Morse was the missing link for me in order to understand what I was suffering from all my life. Although cruciferous vegetables contain sulphur, I find that when eating fermented cabbage (or sauerkraut), the effects are not as strong as when eating cabbage in its raw form.
The logical continuation of the previous point. My body does not like added sulphites as it has to deal with the internal ones already. Added sulphites are therefore an additional burden for it. Such products as sulphur treated dried fruit and balsamic vinegar cause me problems. I put extra effort in reading the labels and making sure that they do not have sulphur in any form added.
My experience with eating this fruit from the nightshade family has not been pleasant. Tomatoes cause severe headaches and irritation in my body. Not many scientists talk about it, but the ones that do, like Normal Childers link the nightshade family to inflammation and to diseases such as arthritis. Nightshades are relatively new to Europe. They were even considered poisonous and were not accepted well as edible crops by farmers in Russia at a certain point in history. Maybe that was for a reason. Nightshade sensitivity is not such an uncommon occurrence among people. Maybe some people’s bodies are still not used to food from another continent.
White spirit vinegar
This ingredient and marinated pickles are another unpleasant food for my head. Traditional European pickles do not involve vinegar at all, they contain just salt and water (like in sauerkraut or fermented cucumbers). In Eastern European countries like Russia and Poland salted pickles are considered as a healthier version, not the vinegar ones. Consuming salt pickles versus marinated vinegar ones is healthier for aches and pains, according to my experience.
This is a tricky ingredient. It can be either healing or causing pain also. I have noticed that adding it even to the aforementioned foods that cause headaches, makes the pain go away. Salt based pickles are known in Russia for their headache curing properties. Foods such as sauerkraut and salted cucumbers or their juice are considered as a remedy for headaches, if one does not exceed the daily norm of salt intake of course. However, if the daily norm is exceeded, causing thirst and dehydration, then salt also triggers an after effect of headaches. Salt therefore requires to be handled carefully. Also the type of salt being used matters – sea salt and pink rock salt are of better quality than the regular chemically processed salts with artificial additives.
I tend to avoid the aforementioned foods in my list for a better quality of life. Thankfully we have a lot of replacements nowadays and I am not really missing anything. When I seldom decide to eat some of them I make sure I do it carefully, not to trigger pain reactions.
Summing up, I can tell that getting to know my body has become a solution to my long lasting problem which caused me so much pain. It has opened my eyes to the fact that the rules which apply to other people may not always apply to me, since everyone’s body is unique. I decided to start treating mine as a really sensitive instrument which knows exactly what it wants. At the end of the day I found theories, which back up unusual pain reactions of my body to certain food groups. As a result I finally understood the logic of these reactions.
When I slowly excluded the triggers mentioned, life quality started improving a lot for me. I started having more mental and physical force. Being pain free is such a fantastic feeling. Finally, this post is not about giving my dietary recommendations to the reader (since we all have different requirements), but rather about telling my story of how I found my unique keys to health naturally, listening to the signals of my body. I found my pain-free life like this. The one who searches, always finds, as the saying goes.