Millions of people in Germany suffer from headaches every day. However, little is known about the causes. In a food study, researchers have now found that a substance that is ingested every day with food may be responsible in many cases: salt.
In the recently published study, the researchers led by Professor Muhammad Amer from the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore (USA) show that the intake of sodium (e.g. salt) through daily food can have a significant influence on whether headaches occur or not.
For the study, 390 subjects were randomly divided into two groups, which had to follow two different diets over a period of 30 days – the “healthy” DASH diet and the “unhealthy diet” typical of western industrialized nations with a lot of fat and sugar.
Less Salt – Less Headache
Both groups consumed high salt (2.7 grams per 2,100-calorie meal), moderate salt (1.8 grams per 2,100-calorie meal), and low salt (0.9 grams per 2,100-calorie meal) on 10 days of each of the 30 days kilocalories). In a diary, the test subjects then noted which diet they were supposed to follow, how much salt they had consumed, whether headaches had occurred, and if so, how severe they were.
After evaluating the study data, it turned out – to the surprise of the researchers – that the type of diet had no influence on the frequency and intensity of headaches – regardless of whether it was “healthy” or “unhealthy”. The intake of salt, on the other hand – i.e. whether a lot, moderate or little – showed a clear influence on the severity of headaches: the more salt was consumed per day, the more frequent and stronger the pain was. For example, those who cut their daily intake of salt in half from nine grams a day to just 4.5 grams suffer 31 percent fewer headaches.