by Aviva Patz
Simple habits can go far toward keeping migraines to a minimum. Here, a few everyday solutions.
1. Graze to stay on an even keel
When we wait too long between meals, our blood sugar levels dip, which can trigger a migraine. Carry healthy snacks—a handful of unsalted nuts, organic dried fruit or vegetables with hummus—so you never get too depleted. Stay very well-hydrated, too.
2. Consider a supplement
Some research suggests that supplementing your diet with vitamin B2, magnesium, coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) and/or the herbs feverfew and butterbur may help prevent migraines. Just remember to loop in your doctor if you decide to try any supplements, especially if you’re pregnant or nursing.
3. Keep up your cardio
In a small Swedish study, migraine sufferers who cycled indoors three times a week had fewer headaches and less severe pain after three months. If you don’t like Spinning, no worries. Doing any kind of moderate cardio, be it Zumba or jogging, three days a week is good. But build up your routine gradually, and keep it on the light side: Leaping into exercise too fast or going too hard can actually set off a migraine.
4. Be a bit boring
It’s no surprise that stress leads to migraines, but stress itself may not be the culprit—coming down from the frenzy may actually be a bigger trigger, per an April study from the Montefiore Headache Center in New York City. Cortisol dulls pain, so falling levels may cause migraines to kick in. If you’re not prepared to lead a more humdrum life, try to pace yourself to prevent big shifts in cortisol levels.
5. Reconsider your birth control
Medications containing estrogen, including the pill, NuvaRing and hormone replacement therapy (HRT), may cause hormonal fluctuations that can lead to migraines or make them worse. Consider going off HRT, or if you’re on the pill, talk to your doctor about using an estrogen patch on PMS-related migraine days (when you’re taking the placebo or are on your break week, your estrogen levels are lower) to prevent the dramatic dip that triggers headaches.
6. Hop in the sack
Beyond relieving stress, sex may squelch migraine symptoms, per a 2013 German study. The pain relief may be due to the release of endorphins, your body’s natural opiates, researchers explain. You’ll benefit most from the orgasm, so make sure you get there. No pressure!