Whether you’ve got a headache from a stressful day, or possibly a hangover from a happenin’ New Year’s Eve, the pain you’re left to deal with can be a real bummer, to say the least. If you have a headache, it’s important to first identify the root cause of your pain before you turn to finding a solution. While some headaches can come from stress or a night out on the town, others may actually come from your diet or hormonal swings, along with medication, environmental exposures and more.

Common Headache Triggers

For example, over-the-counter antihistamines and decongestant along with some antidepressants, blood pressure medications, oral contraceptives, hormone replacement therapy, and pain medications can all cause headaches as a possible side effect. Natural foods like chocolate, caffeine, red wine and alcohol, wheat, fermented foods, cheese, dairy, peanut butter, and even citrus fruits also contain natural chemical compounds that may trigger a headache. So before you try to solve the problem, first, be sure you rule out the possible culprits. If you have a hangover, also be sure you lay off the caffeine, sugar, and avoid overdosing on the OTC meds if you can help yourself!


Nutrients That Help Relieve Headaches

One of the best and most effective ways at treating a headache or hangover naturally is to eat foods and consume vitamin and mineral rich liquids that balance the brain and improve your overall sense of well-being. Certain plant-based foods contain magnesium, B vitamins, potassium, and all aid in balancing the nervous system. This helps improve vascular flow to reduce headaches and also helps relieve tension and stress. Alcohol is very dehydrating and constricting to the body, not to mention harmful for the liver. Giving your body a break with gentle, nourishing foods (versus stimulating foods) is the best way to ease off the pain naturally.

Eat these when trying to overcome a headache:


1. Wild and/or Brown Rice

wild-rice-soup (1)

Wild and brown rice are both very easy to digest, which will be great for your stomach (likely not at its best during a hangover) and wild rice is even grain-free and said to promote healthy digestion on its own. Both wild and brown rice are powerful sources of magnesium and plant-based amino acids. They also offer up a good amount of iron and a wealth of potassium on top of that. Enjoy these in a hot soup or enjoy them freshly cooked with some veggies or even eaten as a breakfast porridge.


2. Sweet Potatoes


Sweet potatoes are very soothing and grounding to the body. They also aid in balancing and provide a large amount of minerals to further aid in healing. Magnesium, potassium, Vitamin B6, and Vitamin C all reduce stress to the body and bring balance at the same time. Enjoy them steamed, roasted mashed, or chopped into a soup with some warm broth.


3. Almonds


Almonds are one of the most valuable foods one can enjoy, especially during times of stress. Almonds provide an amazing source of protein and amino acids and also have a large amount of magnesium, potassium, and even a little iron. Best of all, they contain naturally healthy fats that will help improve blood flow and reduce inflammation. Eat them raw and unsalted when possible, or smear a little raw almond butter onto some sprouted grain toast for a morning breakfast. Hemp seeds and chia seeds are also good sources of magnesium if you happen to be out of almonds.


4. Maca Root

Heather McClees
Heather McClees

This superfood is no hype – it’s one of the best for improving hormonal function, but also for bringing balance to the body. Maca can help pain, stress, and fatigue, all without one bit of caffeine, though it’s naturally energizing if you’re low on fuel. Adding 1 tablespoon of this caramel-tasting, malt-flavored superfood powder to a smoothie is one of the best ways to start the day (or even end a long, stressful one as maca can help you rest if you’re physically exhausted).

5. Broccoli

Sauteed Broccoli

Broccoli seems so boring, but it’s really just so good for you! It’s packed with Vitamin B6 and also full of potassium and Vitamin C. Broccoli is a naturally balancing food and can help the body feel nourished during even the most physically stressful times. Enjoy some with some rice and a sweet potato for a truly healing meal in minutes or see 12 Yummy Ways to Enjoy Broccoli for more tasty tips. Not in the mood for broccoli? Kale and spinach are both two amazing substitutes that would even be great to include if you are having broccoli.

If you’re not feeling up to eating, be sure to give your body some liquid nourishment with a whole foods detox smoothie, a mineral-rich vegetable broth, or even a freshly made green juice.

Don’t let the pain get you down – just ease your way into wellness with some healthy, happy foods!

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Lead image source: Moroccan Quinoa Stuffed Sweet Potato