It’s been a long journey…I’m not exactly sure when my chronic headaches began, though I do remember getting them quite frequently in high school. Since then it’s just been some thing I learned to live with…an annoyance and after a while just a part of my life that I didn’t think about much anymore. My body had long ago become immune to Tylenol (since I took it so often in my teenage years and in my 20’s) and Advil does take the edge off, but I really hate being dependent on drugs! As time went on and the stresses of life, family and work kept piling up, they were really starting to become debilitating and definitely affected my quality of life.
Over the past 2-3 years I’ve been researching here and there on what could be causing the headaches and how to alleviate the frequency. Most of the information that turned up dealt with a few major areas:
Lack of water
Lack of (proper/restful) sleep
So I started paying close attention to each. one. of. these! It was a tough road though, as I pretty much suffered in all of the above mentioned areas, LOL. And while taking better care of myself and staying mindful of all these things did help to lessen the severity and frequency of my headaches, I was still getting them at least 2-3 times a week. Stress was the hardest one to deal with and would definitely trigger tension headaches quickly, as I carry all of my stress in my shoulders and neck.
Then a few weeks ago I started really getting into following “whole foods” bloggers and one of the posts I read dealt with Magnesium Deficiencies. Among the long list of symptoms that one may suffer from if they have a Magnesium deficiency is you guess it, HEADACHES. Now, I wasn’t totally sold, but after suffering from them for so long I was willing to bite and started researching Magnesium a bit more. Now things started to make a bit more sense…your body actually fights off/deasl with stress by releasing Magnesium, a-ha! So if someone gets stressed easily or leads a stressful daily life (like I once did), you may very well be Magnesium deficient!
There’s a TON of information out there for whoever wants to look into it, but long story short, I googled “foods rich in magnesium” and this particular article caught my eye. As soon as I saw this I thought “I can throw a lot of this into a granola!”, and I’ve had plenty of experience making granola 🙂 So I figured, what have I got to lose? If it doesn’t work, I’ll just have a tasty granola to nosh on, right?
So I gathered up the necessary ingredients and whipped up a batch, tasty!! But did it work…did it cure my chronic headaches??
Now keep in mind, I diligently focus on the other triggers as well-getting good sleep, lowering stress, hydrating-especially before having coffee, and limiting myself to 2 cups of coffee a day. However after eating this granola once a day (about a 1/3 cup a day) I am CONVINCED that I am Magnesium deficient. It’s like the Magnesium was the “missing link” in my equation towards living headache-free.
The difference in my quality of life is like night and day and I can’t believe I have lived so long “putting up with” these nasty headaches!!! Again, the granola itself on it’s own probably will not work for those who suffer from chronic headaches, as you really need to balance it out with hydration, good rest, and lessening your stress load (remember, your body uses Magnesium to fight off stress!). But if you have been diligent in paying attention to the usual triggers and still suffer from headaches frequently (I was getting 4-5 headaches a week), then give this try!
As a personal preference I use organics whenever possible, but if you can’t just try to make sure you use quality ingredients.
Magnesium rich Dark Chocolate Almond Granola
2 cups rolled oats (not quick oats)
1/2 cup oat bran
1/4 cup sesame seeds OR ground flax seed OR pumpkin seeds (all 3 that would be best! If you do, you may need to add an extra TBLS of honey)
1/4 cup raw cocao powder (or high quality cocoa powder)
1/2 cup chopped raw almonds (I’ve used roasted before as well)
1 TBLS olive oil
1/3 cup brown sugar
3 TBLS pure honey
1 1/2 TBLS blackstrap molasses
2 tsp vanilla extract
In a large mixing bowl combine the first 5 ingredients (rolled oats thru almonds). Stir really well and make sure all of the cocoa powder is evenly distributed then set aside.
Place the rest of the ingredients into a large pot, heat on the stove over medium/medium low heat. Stir well to blend/heat up all of the wet ingredients and then add back in the oats mixture. Quickly stir and turn the mixture constantly so that oats get evenly coated by the wet ingredients. This may take 2-3 minutes, a wooden spoon or sturdy rubber spatula works best.
Once the oats are thoroughly coated in the wet mixture, spread it out on a parchment lined cookie sheet and bake for 15-20 mins. at 300 degrees, stirring once half way thru. Allow the granola to cool completely before storing in an air-tight container.