Headache is one of the most common ailments that anyone can suffer from at any given time. There are different types and degrees of intensity, from mild pain, which can be the result of physical or mental effort, to a disabling migraine that is difficult to bear. Also, there are people who experience headaches after eating food.
If you experience a headache after meals, it is very important to know the causes. So why do I get a headache after eating? If the pain is repeated frequently, we recommend that you go to the doctor to obtain a diagnosis and start treatment.
Food allergy or intolerance
Food allergy and intolerance are one of the possible answers to why you get a headache after eating. They are not the same ailment, but both have in common the appearance of an adverse reaction of the organism to the ingestion of certain substances contained in certain foods.
In allergy, the immune system releases antibodies and histamines to deal with the substance it considers foreign. Intolerance, on the other hand, is caused by deficiencies or deficiencies in the enzyme system, which means that the body cannot properly assimilate certain substances. Thus, skin reactions, digestive discomfort and respiratory difficulties appear. In addition, a sudden headache with no apparent cause may appear.
If after eating you suffer from headaches, identify what foods you have eaten and find out if the pain is repeated whenever you eat that particular food: dairy products, cereals with gluten, chocolate. The pain you suffer from may be a symptom of an allergic reaction or of intolerance.
If you want to know more about these two food reactions, in this other article we tell you more extensively What is the difference between allergy and intolerance.
Hypertension is considered a ‘silent' disease because its symptoms are difficult to identify. It refers to the pressure with which the blood circulates through the blood vessels, exerting a certain force against their walls. Today we know that eating foods with a high salt content causes an increase in blood pressure, although the appearance of hypertension may be due to other causes.
One of the few symptoms that can warn us of the possibility of being hypertensive are, precisely, headaches, especially after the continued intake of very salty foods.
Maintaining adequate blood glucose levels is essential for good general health. When those levels are excessively low (hypoglycemia) or high (hyperglycemia), dizziness and headaches after eating can be common manifestations of that blood glucose imbalance.
If you think you may have this pathology, go to the doctor so that he can measure your blood glucose concentration. You can also take a look at this other article on How to know if I have diabetes .
When in doubt about what foods can cause headaches, it should be clarified that there are no ‘good' and ‘bad' foods, because the effects they cause in each person depend on multiple factors (general health status, physical activity, the of the diet). Even so, those that contain Tyramine could be considered possible triggers of headaches and migraines.
Tyramine is an amino acid that influences the dilation of blood vessels and can trigger headaches after ingestion. It is present naturally in some foods such as: cheeses, smoked or processed meats, canned foods, pickles, fermented foods (sauerkraut), sauces such as soy sauce and some fruits, such as bananas or avocados when they are very ripe. Also in certain nuts such as walnuts or peanuts, among others.
Preservatives and flavor enhancers
Sometimes, it is not a food itself that can cause a headache after eating, but rather the ingredients with which it has been treated for its preservation. The excessive presence of nitrites and nitrates, as well as monosodium glutamate , could be behind the discomfort and headache after taking some sausages, ultra-processed products, pre-cooked dishes, soups or some sauces that are sold already prepared.
Alterations in chewing
Headaches after eating food can also be caused by a disorder of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) , the joint that connects the jaw to the base of the skull. Without realizing it, performing the movement that involves biting and chewing incorrectly could end up causing headaches, especially if the pain is concentrated in the temple area.
Migraines can be related to insufficient fluid intake, either directly or through vegetables and fruits. When there is a lack of water in the brain, headaches often appear.
The same happens due to the excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages. Alcohol is a vasodilator substance that promotes dehydration of the body, hence the typical ‘hangover' headaches, a situation that occurs a few hours after consumption.
Heartburn and reflux that occurs when stomach acids return to the esophagus in the process of digestion is a health problem that, if repeated frequently, requires medical advice. Although its symptoms are mainly digestive, there are people who experience more or less intense headaches when they suffer from these pathologies.
Sometimes the problem of headaches after eating does not depend on a specific food but on poor nutritional habits . An unbalanced diet, which does not provide the proper proportion of carbohydrates and, with them, the sufficient amount of energy that the body needs, may be behind recurring headaches. Beware of diets that completely eliminate carbohydrates !
Now that you know the possible causes of your headache after eating, if the pain is very severe and persistent, go to the doctor because you could have a migraine. Learn more about it in this other article on the Causes of migraines.