EAT TO BEAT:
HEADACHES Nutritional therapist Henrietta Norton reveals how you can beat pain through the foods you eat A headache is one way your body can tell you that something is out of balance – whether this is a psychological pressure or a hormonal issue. Using it as an opportunity to delve into the cause, especially if they are reoccurring, can be a really productive approach to wellness. There are many causes of headaches such as high blood pressure, low or high blood sugar, dehydration, tension, hormones, medications and infections to name a few. Here are some actions you can take to support your body to reduce the chance of suffering from headaches. SUPPORT YOUR LIVER The liver is responsible for many functions which includes cleansing our blood, digesting our food, producing energy and metabolising hormones. If any of these functions are underperforming due to poor diet and lifestyle, a headache could develop. You can support your liver with food and herbs like garlic, onions, leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables (think Brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale, broccoli and watercress), dandelion root, artichoke leaf, burdock root, milk thistle and more B vitamins. Extra protein will also help to support the liver. If you have a headache, try eating a protein-rich meal or snack and you may find this will alleviate the pain. A wellused naturopathic remedy is to undergo a gentle liver and gut cleansing programme.
BALANCE YOUR BLOOD SUGAR When you eat high sugar foods, or go too long without eating, your body can swing between having high or low blood sugar levels which can cause headaches. Poor blood sugar control will also impact other hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol which will increase your susceptibility to head pain. The solution is to eat protein-rich meals with plenty of vegetables and healthy fats. Avoid or minimise all 70 NATURAL HEALTH
refined, processed foods and ingredients you do not recognise. Better still, stick to foods that don’t need a lengthy ingredients label at all. Focus on real foods that are as natural and unprocessed as possible. Some foods will impact your blood sugar more than you realise – the worst offenders are bread, cereal, white rice, high sugar fruits such as grapes, bananas and mangoes, low fat yoghurt and sauces such as ketchup.
OPT FOR SPECIFIC NUTRIENTS Headaches can also result from a deficiency in certain nutrients, most commonly magnesium, vitamin B6 and folate (also known as vitamin B9). Magnesium and vitamin B6 support the production of the neurotransmitter serotonin, blood sugar regulation and the efficient metabolism of oestrogen (excess or deficiency of which can lead to headaches). Similarly folate and magnesium influence blood circulation by lessening vasoconstriction which can generate pressure headaches. You can boost your dietary intake of these nutrients by eating more green leafy vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds and whole grains.
If you don’t like water try adding some fresh lemon or lime to improve the taste. The quality of water is also important as you don’t want to burden your body with more chemicals, such as chlorine, from unfiltered water. An excellent investment is the British Berkefeld water filter (berkey-waterfilters.co.uk). You could also start the day with a fresh vegetable juice to provide condensed nourishment from the vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. Cucumber, celery, lettuce, fennel, ginger, lemons, limes and herbs like parsley, basil and mint all work well in green juice.
LOOK AT YOUR LIFESTYLE
Most people will have experienced a tension headache at some point from staring at a computer screen for too long. We are constantly surrounded by mobile phones, wi-fi and portable house phones so it’s impossible to avoid the electromagnetic radiation they emit. However, we can switch them off at night, have regular breaks from electronic devices and get out into nature. It is also important to note that children absorb more radiation than adults as they have thinner skin and bones and a higher water content. It is therefore wise to limit their exposure.
An obvious solution to start with, but it’s surprising how many people forget to drink enough water throughout their day or only drink coffee and tea.
Henrietta Norton is a nutritional therapist, author and co-founder of Wild Nutrition (wildnutrition.com). She has clinics at Grace Belgravia and SP & Co in London.
HEALING KEDGEREE Rich in omega 3, B12, B3, B1, B2, B6, folic acid, iron, magnesium, calcium, fibre and protein, this will help give your body what it needs to fight head pain
•350g undyed smoked haddock •1 tbsp coconut oil •1 small onion, finely chopped •1 tsp curry powder •½ tsp turmeric •90g brown rice, rinsed
•1 tbsp tomato purée •125g spinach leaves •2 tbsp goat’s yoghurt (optional) •Salt and black pepper •2 hard-boiled eggs, quartered •Spinach and kale, to serve
1. Bring 600ml water to the boil in a large frying pan. Reduce the heat, add the smoked haddock and simmer for three to four minutes, until just cooked. Remove the fish, strain the cooking liquid into a bowl and set aside.
and bring to the boil. Cover and simmer for 40 to 50 minutes until the rice is tender, stirring in the spinach just before the rice is cooked.
2. Heat the oil in a pan, add the onion and cook over a medium heat for two to three minutes, then add the curry powder and turmeric and cook for two minutes. 3. Add the rice and tomato purée and stir to mix. Add the reserved cooking liquid
4. Meanwhile, remove and discard the skin and any bones from the haddock and separate into flakes. 5. Stir the yoghurt (if using) into the rice, with salt and pepper to taste, then gently mix in the flaked haddock. Spoon onto a warm serving dish, arrange the eggs on the rice and serve with steamed spinach and kale.
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