Can Certain Foods Trigger Migraines
While scientists are still studying if there are direct correlations between foods and migraines, certain foods seem to stimulate headaches or can combine with other factors to trigger a migraine.
These foods include:
- Aged cheeses According to the Cleveland Clinic, aged cheeses have tyramine, which is formed when protein is broken down as foods age. Cheeses high in tyramine can trigger migraines. This includes cheeses such as brie, cheddar, feta, blue cheeses and Parmesan.
- Processed foods Artificial sweeteners, MSG and nitrates can be contributing factors.
- Fresh yeast bread
- Alcohol Red wine is high in tyramine, which can contribute to migraine problems.
- Salty foods
The Mayo Clinic also says that the absence of food such as skipping meals or fasting can trigger a migraine.
At The Burger Joint: Skip The Pickles Try Raw Cucumber
A few favorite burger toppings can be migraine triggers for some, all thanks to tyramine, so the next time you hit up your fave joint, be wary of a few items like raw onion, cheddar or blue cheese and sauerkraut . Pickled food can be high in tyramine, too, so you might consider laying off that pile of pickles. It might sound weird, but raw cucumber can give you that same satisfying crunch, so you might ask your server for a swap-out.
Fruits And Vegetables As A Migraine Trigger
One more category of food trigger I would like to add in this text is fruits and vegetables as a migraine trigger. Ingestion of fruits and vegetables is very healthy because of vitamins that we need, indeed. But specific fruits and vegetables could be a possible trigger for migraine headaches. Of course, it depends from one person to another. And it is also a very important quantity of fruit and vegetable ingestion and of course a variety of it. You probably wouldnt like to have a vitamin deficiency or vitamin suppression.
On the list below you can see some of the fruits and vegetables which I added as a migraine trigger. Specifically, chemical triggers in the case of fruits and vegetables are tyramine, PEA, nitrates, nitrites, and lots of amines. Processes and mechanisms which include these chemicals are explained above in this text. So it is the same story but different foodstuffs. Below you can see the concrete chemical trigger in each fruit and vegetable individually.
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Tips To Identify Trigger Foods
Some doctors may recommend that people with migraines keep a food journal to track what they eat and any headache symptoms that they experience.
It is worth noting that some people may have an immediate reaction to a food, while others may not react until 24 hours after eating it.
The next step is to try removing one potential trigger food from the diet to see if migraines still occur. For example, a person may decide to avoid all products that contain red wine for a week, including red wine vinegar and the wine itself.
This approach can ensure that people do not remove foods from their diet unnecessarily.
Doctors have identified five main trigger categories for migraines, one of which is different food types. The other four categories are:
- Changes in the environment. Changes in atmospheric pressure, the season, and even storms may trigger migraines.
- Hormones. Changes in hormone levels that occur due to the menstrual cycle can trigger migraines, as can some hormonal changes during pregnancy.
- Sensory stimulation. Bright lights, certain smells, smoke, and excessive and repetitive noises can all trigger migraines in some people.
- Stress. Stress, intensive exercise, illness, or unusual sleep habits may trigger migraines.
Sometimes, a combination of migraine triggers can lead to a migraine headache. For example, a person could be very stressed, miss a meal, and reduce their hours of sleep.
Making dietary changes is not the only option for treating migraines.
Common Foods That Trigger Migraines
Some specific foods appear to trigger migraines. Weve listed some of the most commonly reported ones below, as well as suggestions on what to eat to relieve migraines, which, fingers crossed, will help you manage your condition.
1. Artificial sweeteners
Artificial sweeteners are synthetic sugar substitutes used to sweeten foods and drinks. They have virtually zero calories and can be found in desserts, ready meals, canned foods, chewing gum and more. The artificial sweetener aspartame has been identified as a migraine trigger for some people, and so has sucralose.
What to try instead: Natural sweeteners include fruit juices and nectars, honey, molasses and maple syrup. Honey offers a range of health benefits and is incredibly versatile add it to your caffeine-free tea, drizzle it over your cereal and use it as an ingredient in an array of dishes.
2. Aged cheeses
As cheese ages, its proteins break down and form tyramine a natural substance that some experts believe is linked to migraine and headache pain. Some examples of aged cheeses include blue cheese, Swiss cheese, parmesan, brie and cheddar.
What to try instead: Luckily, we have a huge variety of cheese at our fingertips so you can substitute aged ones with fresh, soft, spreadable options such as cream cheese, ricotta and goats cheese. A lot of dairy products do, however, contain high levels of saturated fats so enjoy them in moderation.
4. Foods containing MSG
5. Processed and cured meats
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Aged Cheeses Should Be Avoided If Youre Prone To Headaches
According to Everyday Health, aged cheeses are often named as headache triggers for those who suffer from migraines and milder forms of headaches. Among the cheeses known to cause headaches, aged cheeses such as Parmesan, Gouda, and blue cheese are said to be the worst. So is there any truth to this widely held belief?
Apparently theres something to it. According to Everyday Health, aged cheeses are high in tyramine, a substance that forms in cheese as its proteins break down over time. The longer a cheese ages, the more tyrosine there will be in it. Tyrosine is a known catalyst for headaches, especially for those who suffer from them often. So if you love blue cheese and other aged cheeses, but also suffer from headaches, it might be worth reconsidering your diet. There is not much research on cheese as a migraine trigger, but it is generally agreed that aged cheese is more likely to cause a headache, Noah Rosen, director of the Headache Institute in Great Neck, New York, told Everyday Health.
For now, well sadly put a pause on delicious, creamy blue cheese dressing.
Everyday Foods That Cause Headaches And Migraines Foods That You Should Avoid
Before we mention the common foods that cause headaches and migraines, we would like to introduce to you some background information about these conditions. Migraines and other types of problem like a sinus headache and tension headache have a painful experience. When you suffer from migraines and headaches, you may face the symptoms such as nausea, pounding headache, vomiting, and light sensitivity. Migraines can be treated with abortion and antinausea drugs or preventive medications. The common treatment for the problem is using pain relievers.
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Does Food Really Trigger Migraines
Of course, the relationship between food and migraine isnât clear-cut, and unfortunately, no single factor can be directly tied to your attacks. That said, there’s scientific evidence that suggests migraines may be triggered by certain foods. Additionally, 27% of those who experience migraines believe that particular foods are personally triggering.
According to Dr. Sara Crystal, clinical neurologist and Cove Medical Director, certain foods and additives are more likely to trigger headaches in a higher percentage of migraineurs, but even among individuals, other factors like stress, hormonal changes, and lack of sleep can increase the likelihood of an attack after consuming a known trigger.
So, without further ado, hereâs a list of the most common food triggers for migraine sufferers, in no particular order.
Triggers Of Migraine Headaches
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How To Tell If A Certain Food Is Triggering A Migraine
Its important to note that a great range of factors can set off migraines, and what youre eating or drinking may not always be the culprit. Often recommended for migraine management is keeping a migraine diary to track what may be setting off attacks. This means recording:
- When attacks are happening
- Your levels of stress
- Exposure to bright lighting, screens, or other stimuli
If you suspect a particular food and drink is triggering your migraines, consider that other factors, such as dehydration, stress, hormonal changes, and sleep disruptions, can always be factors. So how can you tell? Heres a breakdown:
- Track the timing: Drinks or foods are considered triggers when they set off an attack within 12 to 24 hours of consumption. The onset of attack can be as quick as 20 minutes.
- Elimination: If you suspect a food item to be a trigger, avoid it for four weeks and see how your migraines are. If theres no change, then likely it isnt one.
- A focused approach: Be careful when eliminating foods or drinks from your diet it actually may be worse to avoid all of your triggers at the same time. Try one at a time and go from there.
- Special considerations: The elimination of foods from the diet should not be attempted in children or if youre pregnant without professional medical advice.
Why Might Eating Cheese Cause A Migraine
Cheese is amazing. Who doesnt love cheese? On toast, on pizza, on pasta, plain on its own, or turned into cheese scones. Its great stuff. Unless you suffer from migraines. In which case it can be an evil food stuff to be avoided at all costs because cheese is one of those foods which many migraine sufferers say can trigger a migraine attack.
Well, to be fair it might not be all cheeses usually its aged cheese that are the worst culprits cheeses such as parmesan, cheddar or brie. The reason for this is that aged cheese contains a lot of a natural chemical called tyramine.
Its not only aged cheese that contains a lot of tyramine though. Processed meats such as salami and some hams contain a lot of this chemical. Again this is down to the fact that theyve been stored for a long time.
So what is it about tyramine that leads to migraines?
Tyramine is chemically structured as a monoamine and the enzyme in our bodies that breaks this down is called a monoamine oxidase . It was found in the late 1960s that some migrainers who also had a deficiency in MAO, got headaches after eating tyramine-rich foods. Experts believe that the reason for this is that too much unprocessed tyramine can lead to chemical changes in the brain that then leads to headaches.
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How To Identify Migraine Food Triggers
Not everyone has the same Migraine food triggers. Triggers can also be additive, meaning: a specific food may push you over the threshold into an attack only when youre exposed to other triggers at the same time, like poor sleep or extra stress.
To identify your personal food triggers, use a headache diary or app, such as Migraine Buddy or N-1 Headache , for 60-90 days.
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A List Of Common Migraine Trigger Foods
Most of what we do know about dietary triggers comes from patient reports, and as noted, they vary a great deal from person to person. Though theres evidence that certain foods can bring on attacks, more high-quality research is needed to confirm these links. Still, some food and drink triggers have been identified.
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Foods That Trigger Headaches
Headaches and migraines are often triggered by certain foods. But not all headache triggers deserve their bad rap.
Theres nothing like a pounding headache to make you seek refuge in a dark, quiet room and hide from the world. If you suffer with chronic headache pain, you have great company. More than 45 million Americans have chronic headache pain from migraine, tension, or cluster headaches.
Women suffer headaches more frequently than men, perhaps because of variations in the brain chemical called serotonin, which plays a role in pain and depression. When levels of the hormone estrogen plummet, levels of serotonin change as well.
According to the Mayo Clinic, the most common headaches include:
- Cluster headache
- Trigeminal autonomic cephalalgia , cluster headache and paroxysmal hemicranias
Whether you suffer with migraines, tension or sinus headaches, or headaches from arthritis or jaw pain, all headaches have one central thread that weaves them together: inner or outer triggers cause the body to react with pain thats felt in the head. These triggers may stem from foods, tobacco, chemicals, stress, environment, or your hormones, among other things, and may vary from one person to the next.
Keep Asking Questions Until You Get The Answer You Need
The Medical Experts are all here to answer your questions online or with a phone call.
Many drinks which contain alcohol will result in a headache by increasing the blood flow to our brain and making your body dehydrated. They are also the triggers of migraines and headaches. Patients with the problem tend to have worse hangovers caused by any alcohol type, according to Robert Daroff, MD, a professor of neurology working at the Case Western Reserve School of Medicine in Cleveland and also a past president of the American Headache Society. Alcohol will cause headaches in some patients who have gone through a period of cluster headaches.
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What Cheese Can People With Migraines Eat
If youre a migraine sufferer, you already know how debilitating those headaches can be. But what you may not know is theres a possible connection between some types of dairy and migraines. Aged cheese, like gruyere, havarti, parmesan and even some cheddars, can trigger migraines within hours.
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Migraine sufferers should stick to fresh cheeses, like mild cheddar, ricotta cheese, cottage cheese, American cheese, Colby and Monterey Jack. Aged cheeses, like Parmesan, Asiago, Mozzarella and sharp cheddar contain tyramine, an amino acid that can trigger headaches.
This is the effect of an amino acid called tyramine, which affects the diameter of the blood vessels in your brain and can bring on throbbing headache pain. If you suspect food is a trigger for your migraines, keeping a food journal can help you pinpoint any potential offenders.
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Is Tyramine A Trigger For You
Keeping a migraine diary can help you and your doctor find out if your migraines are related to tyramine or another trigger. This diary should include when your migraine occurs, how severe your migraine pain is, what youve had to eat or drink, and if youve been exposed to other potential triggers.
You may need to record this information for several months, as food triggers may not always be consistent and some migraines may happen as late as 24 hours after you eat the specific food. But knowing whether certain foods affect your migraines may help you manage your migraines better.
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Watch Out For Aged Cheese On A Migraine Diet
“There is not much research on cheese as a migraine trigger, but it is generally agreed that aged cheese is more likely to cause a headache,” explains Rosen. The culprit may be a substance called tyramine that forms as the proteins in cheese break down over time. The longer a cheese ages, the more tyramine it has. Examples you might want to skip on a migraine diet to avoid headaches include blue cheese, Swiss, cheddar, Gouda, and Parmesan.
Diet And Headache Control
Merle L. Diamond, MD and Dawn A. Marcus, MD
Perhaps the best migraine prevention diet is one that is as wholesome, fresh and unprocessed as possiblethereby eliminating many of the supposed chemical triggers for migraine. In addition, eat these foods in small portions spread throughout the day averaging five to six calorie controlled portions. This eating behavior assists in preventing headache due to hunger, avoids large amounts of any supposed chemical trigger at any given time, and finally, fires up ones metabolismpreventing weight gain, which is a likely factor contributing to risk of headache progression.
Patients who suffer from migraine attacks try to determine what they did wrong each time that a headache occursthat is, they try to identify the triggers that put them at risk of having another episode. For many years, headache specialists have debated the possibility that certain foods cause the so-called migraine threshold to drop, which allows a window of opportunity for migraine to start.
Food triggers appear to be important in a minority of migraine sufferers, but other factors may be complicating an understanding of food triggers. For example, so many foods and beverages have caffeine, which has clearly been associated as a trigger for headache in individuals with high caffeine consumption.
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Consideration To Bear In Mind
The individual can consume aged cheese excluding cheddar if he/she is currently using MAOI medications. It is recommended to eat not more than 4 ounces of aged cheese in a meal. If there is processed meat, the combination of meat and cheese should not be more than 4 ounces. Always use caution and consult a doctor first before experimenting with cheese.