Cut this from your diet and cut out headaches

Adult woman suffers from headache.

Lots of people suffer from headaches. In fact, almost everyone experiences them once in awhile.

And new research out of Johns Hopkins has found that 1 simple ingredient in your diet may be the cause.1

Let’s take a look at the study to find out what it is.

Researchers assigned about 400 people to follow 1 of 3 types of diet plans. They were either low, medium or high amounts of this particular ingredient:

Group #1 consumed 1.5 g per day of the ingredient (a low amount).
Group #2 consumed 2.4 g to 2.5 g per day of the ingredient (a medium amount).
Group #3 consumed 3.2 g to 3.3 g per day of the ingredient (a high amount).

At the end of the study, they found that Group #1 experienced a third fewer headaches than Group #3!

So what was the ingredient that caused Group #3 to suffer through so many headaches?


Now, you may be thinking, we already know a high intake of sodium can lead to high blood pressure … which can lead to headaches. But the really interesting part of this study is that the link between lower sodium intake and fewer headaches was independent of blood pressure.

In other words, when the researchers controlled for blood pressure (and other potential confounding factors such as age, sex, race and weight), they found only the high sodium intake was significantly associated with headaches … regardless of the type of diet consumed.

Slash the salt

Healthy people should limit sodium to no more than 2,300 mg per day. Yet the average American is taking in about 3,400 mg per day.

I know what you’re thinking … that’s not you. You hardly touch the salt shaker, so your sodium intake is probably just fine.

Wrong! There’s hidden salt in so many things you eat. In fact, over 75% of dietary sodium comes from eating packaged and restaurant foods.

So what can you do to cut the salt and still add flavor to your food?

  • Make soup from scratch. Canned varieties can contain up to 1,000 mg of sodium.
  • Throw a cinnamon stick or a pinch of cardamom or ginger into the pot of water before boiling rice, pasta or hot cereal.
  • Sprinkle a little dried thyme into your scrambled eggs.
  • Add fresh lemon juice to fish and vegetables.
  • Rinse canned beans under cool running water. Better yet, simmer dried beans yourself. Make a big batch on the weekend and freeze in single-serving portions to use during the week.
  • Roast or grill veggies to bring out their natural flavor.
  • Liberally sprinkle grated lemon zest, chopped herbs, garlic, shallots and onions on chicken and turkey.

Other head helpers

Cutting salt can be a good way to prevent headaches before they start (not to mention, reduce your risk of high blood pressure, kidney disease, heart disease and stroke). If you want some other ideas, here are a few more things you can do to keep your head feeling healthy.

  • Good, old-fashioned clean living. Stop smoking, reduce the amount of alcohol you’re drinking, eat and sleep on a regular schedule, and make sure to exercise regularly.
  • Hot or cold packs. If a tension headache hits, dip a washcloth in hot water, wring it out, fold it into a compress, and place it on your forehead or the back of your neck to relax tight muscles. For a migraine, do the same thing but with icy cold water.
  • Ginger tea. Grate some ginger and steep it in hot water for a few minutes, then strain.
  • Take a breath. Relaxation techniques can do wonders for tension headaches.
  • Take frequent breaks from activities that trigger or provoke headaches. Set your alarm for 30 minutes when you’re using the computer, watching television or sitting at your desk … and get up to get a drink of water and take a short walk.
  • If you get a lot of headaches, a headache diary can help you identify triggers. Include the day and time the pain begins, what you ate and drank over the past 24 hours, how much you slept, and what you were doing right before the pain began.

Do you have a favorite headache cure? I’d love to hear about it.

Steve Sisskind, M.D.

Hi, I'm Dr. Steve Sisskind, Chief Medical Officer & Founder at RealDose Nutrition.

As a young physician, I struggled because my patients came to me with serious health issues, but I didn't have the right tools to help them. Medical school taught me how to put "band aids" on their symptoms with drugs and surgery, but not how to address the root causes of their problems.

Years later I discovered a better approach... based on the fundamental idea that the power of nutrition can transform your health and vitality. But there's a lot of confusion... What foods should I eat? Which supplements should I take? What does the science say?

I have dedicated my life to answering these questions... And I share this knowledge with you every day here at RealDose Nutrition.

I invite you to connect with me by joining my free private community. I've helped thousands of people and I know I can help you too!

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1. Amer M, Woodward M, Appel LJ. Effects of dietary sodium and the DASH diet on the occurrence of headaches: results from randomised multicentre DASH-Sodium clinical trial. BMJ Open. 2014 Dec 11;4(12):e006671. PMID: 25500372.

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  1. Dr Sisskind, I have had 2 third ventricular colloid cysts, I am on my 2nd VP shunt, I had asteroid of heart attacts, a failed attempt at a quadruple bypass, a successful double bypass, but I’m still in atrial fib and I have a 24 hour, severe headache for over 30 years, and I’ve doubled my weight in less than 10 months twice in my life. I’m in the process of trying to take this last weight gain off. I eat 3 eggs basted easy every morning with 3 slices of toast. (I like my yokes and toast) and eat a small lunch around 2 or 3 pm. Weight is very slowly coming off, but would like to speed the process a little. Any suggestions for me

    • Dr. Steve Sisskind

      Hi David,

      Thank you for writing in and for sharing your concerns with us! I am deeply sorry to learn of your many challenges but do admire your commitment to stay healthy. At this time, I do suggest that you first speak with your personal doctor before getting started on any diet plan plan or exercise regimen. The reason being, while we are confident that our recommendations will work, we have no sure way of knowing if it is indeed what your body needs. There may be other alternative options your doctor will recommend which will not only help you lose weight but also not affect your body. Hope this helps! Make it a healthy day!

  2. Hi Dr.Steve,thank you for all the great info & help you give us out here in living a great life with a healthy body! My husband Scott has been on Simvastatin for about 10 years. He is 55 years old and a bit overweight and has been working on losing the weight presently . He doesn’t smoke and drink and has been complaining of muscle aches lately and after doing research on the simvastatin found that some statins provide muscle pain to people that take it. His cholesterol has been totally controlled by the simvastatin however we are wondering if it is a possibility to perhaps try to keep the cholesterol level even with diet&exercise only and not the medication . He is currently thinking of going off of this medication and managing the cholesterol 100% by diet&exercise and has an appointment to talk to his doctor on this . Could we ask you what your thoughts are on this -thank you so much and have a blessed day .

    • Dr. Steve Sisskind

      Hi Mary Pat,

      Thank you for writing in and for sharing your concerns with us! I completely understand your concerns and do understand the aches and pains your husband is experiencing. A balanced diet and the right kind of exercise will help keep cholesterol levels within normal range but I do not recommend that you deviate from the plan your personal doctor has laid out. He or she may have good reason to recommend the medication and I do suggest that you speak with them about your husband’s discomfort. A healthy lifestyle will keep your cholesterol in check but it is a long process and many often get frustrated with the slow rate of change. This causes them to fall back into old habits and continue to raise their levels. Hope this helps! Make it a healthy day!

  3. I have been taking the lemon/ Himalayan pink salt water. I believe it improves my sleep. I do not use much salt otherwise. Any thoughts about this use of salt?. I have no history of headaches.

    • Dr. Steve Sisskind

      Hi Patrick,

      Thank you for writing in and for sharing! I love Himalayan Pink Salt and use it regularly in salads and sometimes, as a lemon salt drink. However, I always keep a close eye on how much I use so as not to over do it. When taken in moderation, this kind of salt has many potential health benefits due to the many minerals present therein. But, it is still salt and could easily cause negative reactions when used in excess. Hope this helps! Make it a healthy day!

  4. DR.your thoughts on peanut oil

    • Dr. Steve Sisskind

      Hi Richard,

      Thank you for writing in and for posting your question! Peanut oil is a great fat to use for deep frying as it has a high smoke point and does not absorb the flavor of the food. However, I personally like olive oil for most cooking recipes and have had great results. Hope this helps!

  5. I have found utterly amazing results from drinking a litre of cold coconut water as soon as I feel a migraine is starting. Since stumbling on this ” cure” for me, I have not had one migraine develop beyond very mild.

  6. When I overdo it my feet swell. I have had it since I was twelve. When I am careful with my diet, no sugar, no dairy, not a lot of protein, not a lot of water, and little sodium, I am worried about this problem. Once, when I did a lot of walking and went to a health store and drank a coconut drink since coconut drinks are now the powerhouse of drinks, I got swollen feet. It had tons of sodium in it. So, I never drank that particular coconut drink again. Alas, I still have to be careful not to indulge in fun foods. But, I appreciate all your wonderful advice, Dr. Steve.

    • Dr. Steve Sisskind

      Hi Esther,

      Thank you for writing in and for sharing your thoughts with us! Swollen feet and fingers are signs that you may have had too much salt too quickly and are retaining water. I absolutely agree that you should steer clear of products which have a high amount of sodium or have been processed extensively. That said, should the same symptoms occur, I do recommend that you speak with your personal doctor about it. It is always good to hear from you! Have a healthy day!

  7. I read that beta blockers cause long term weight gain. I noticed that I gained weight since I’m on it in addition to another med for HTN. I have tried to stay away from sea salt & pink sodium. I’m addicted to flavored coffee. I’m happy that I didn’t have any signs of sensitivity to Formula 1, first time I took it and trying very hard to drink H20 as you advised in your letters. Taking it slow and keeping a positive attitude, fighting my cravings and always thinking of my goals, weight lost and healthy mind/body. Thank you.

    • Dr. Steve Sisskind

      Hi Marie,

      Thank you for writing in and for sharing your thoughts with us! Yes, some medications can make us gain weight over time but that can be countered by maintaining a balanced low salt diet. I also suggest that you take the time to exercise in order to help not just with the weight but also to maintain and preserve your range of movements. Lastly, never lose that positive attitude and always take things one day at a time. It is always better to make small healthy permanent changes than to dive in head first into any diet. It may not be what your body needs. I do look forward to hearing of your progress! Have a healthy day!

  8. Bananas can trigger headaches. Speaking of bananas a couple of years ago Dr. Steve replied to a question about bananas saying they’re high in protein. That’s incorrect as a medium banana will have 1-2 gm protein & 51 gm carbs, additionally the protein is an incomplete protein which doesn’t respond to our metabolic needs on their own. I suspect he meant to say they are high in potassium :” July 23, 2013 at 8:46 am Hi Staci,
    Thank you for sending in your question! Bananas are rich in protein, vitamin K and dietary fibers,”

    • Dr. Steve Sisskind

      Hi Jall,

      Thank you for writing in and for sharing! You are right and I stand corrected. Sometimes my thoughts and my fingers don’t work as they should and these types of errors happen. Thank you for sharing and have a nice day!

  9. My Physician prescribed 1 tsp of of Sea Salt or Pink Salt in the morning upon wake up. Why? It is not processed salt and I do not eat boxed foods. He also told me to stay away from Kosher Salt since there is some processing involved and he is a Jewish MD needless to say that got my attention. My Blood Pressure has come down drastically (near normal levels) from not using the table salt mixed with Iodine.

    • Dr. Steve Sisskind

      Hi Kobi,

      Thank you for writing in! I am very happy to read your thoughts on the matter and it was very enlightening. I may need to read up on Pink and Sea salt, as you have piqued my curiosity on the subject. Again, I thank you for sharing and do look forward to more in the future! Have a healthy day!

  10. DoTerra essential PEPPERMINT oil… jsut put a drop on your forehead and temples (be sure to keep far away from eyes) and 2-3 min. mine and my kids headaches are GONE… totally amazing!

    • Cindy LaRochelle

      I have used rubs that have menthol. Icy Hot, Vicks, Bio Freeze, Blue Emu. I put a little on my temples and forehead. Just don’t get it close to your eyes, because they will start burning. The soothing feel of menthol, takes my mind off of my headache or migrain.
      Cindy L.

      • Dr. Steve Sisskind

        Hi Cindy,

        Thanks for writing in and for sharing your great tip! Have a healthy day!

  11. Thank you for being there for us. I have had this problem with redness in my eyelids for along time. I have gone to eye doctors, skin doctors, and ear doctors. I also have floaters in my eye and when I get up in the morning, I have congestion in my eyes and nose. Would you be able to suggest something for this condition. I try to avoid sugar, glutton, and diary. But, still surcome to it sometimes. And when I do I notice I GET THIS PROBLEM (SORRY FOR THE CAPS). tHANKS FOR ALL OF YOUR HELP. sincerely, eSTHER

    • Dr. Steve Sisskind

      Hi Esther,

      Thank you for writing in and for sharing your concerns with us! There could be a number of reasons why your eyes gets puffy in the morning and you get the sniffles. It could be an allergic reaction and I do strongly recommend that you speak to your personal doctor to get an exact diagnosis. To help, I do recommend that you give honey and probiotics (by eating yogurt, sauerkraut, cheese and other fermented food) a try. They are known to be effective in strengthening your immune system as well as help with digestion. However,should your symptoms continue or worsen over time, then it is high time that you pay your doctor a visit. Hope this helps! Have a healthy day!

    • I suffered from itchy eyes, it would itch so much that the area around my eyes would become dry.
      I did food alergic test, visited the eye specialists. Creams and eye drops helped temporarily. But the real problem I discovered from a naturopathy was that I was allergic to the face/eye body creams that I was applying on my skin.

  12. Is your product safe to use for someone who suffers from irritable bowel syndrome?

    • Dr. Steve Sisskind

      Hi Angela,

      Thank you for writing in and for sharing your concerns with us! RealDose Weight Loss Formula No.1 is made with all natural ingredients and is well tolerated. However, if you have a medical condition or are taking medications, I do strongly recommend that you speak with your personal doctor before making a commitment with our product. The reason being, while we are confident about the safety of our formula, we have no sure way of knowing if it will trigger your Irritable Bowel Syndrome. By speaking with your doctor, you will not only know of possible interactions but also proceed with your journey to weight loss without further issue. Hope this helps! Have a healthy day!

  13. I love my bed buddy hot pack for tension. It is an elongated U shape with a thicker wide part at the bottom of the U. I can lay it flat on a pillow after heating and it heats my neck and the back of my head and because it is shapeable I can really tuck it around by my ears and top of shoulders with still having the legs of the U go down the sides of my spine. Works like a charm most of the time.

    • Dr. Steve Sisskind

      Hi Alicia,

      Thank you for writing in and for sharing! I just might give that a try to alleviate tension in my neck and shoulders. Make it a healthy day!

  14. Are there any ingredients in Real Dose that will hurt my kidneys. I have kidney diease stage 3 and stable.

    Thanks for your help

    • Dr. Steve Sisskind

      Hi Linda,

      Thank you for writing in and for sharing your concerns with us! RealDose Weight Loss Formula No.1 is made with all natural botanical ingredients and is generally well tolerated. All ingredients are water soluble and are safe for every day use. However, I do still recommend that you first speak with your personal doctor before making a commitment with us to ensure that the supplement is safe for you to take along with your other medications. I completely understand your concerns and do hope this helps! Have a healthy day!

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