Commonly Reported Food Triggers For Migraine: Find Your Food Trigger And Avoid It
You are closer to effectively managing the pain and preventing future attacks , if you can find your migraine trigger. Migraine, commonly known as migraine headaches, is a neurological condition that usually presents with severe pain in the head and other symptoms such as nausea and vomiting. People with migraine can have about four episodes of migraine each month. There are a number of triggers for migraine attacks that vary in each individual. Here are some commonly reported food triggers for migraine-by-migraine patients.
Which Foods Trigger Migraines?
Caffeine is an ingredient of some headache medications, and caffeinated drinks such as coffee, tea, and sodas can offer relief for a mild headache. But it is one of the triggers mentioned by people suffering from migraine. Too much consumption of caffeine or caffeine withdrawal can contribute to caffeine-related headaches and migraine attacks.
Our brain develops a dependency when we regularly drink coffee or tea, and when we don’t have it, headaches can occur as a result of withdrawal. Researchers suggest that too much caffeine can reduce the magnesium (vital nutrient for pain conditions) levels in the body and dehydrate the body. As a result, this may end up in migraine attacks.
Alcoholic beverages are one of the major food triggers for migraine reported by migraine patients, and people who consume red wine may be particularly more prone to attacks. A 2019 study on 2197 patients with migraines states that 35.6% of participants reported alcohol as a migraine trigger.
People may get a headache after a few hours of alcohol consumption or as a delayed hangover effect. The substances in alcoholic beverages such as histamine, sulfites, and tyramines can be linked to migraine attacks. Dilation of blood vessels and dehydration caused by alcohol can also contribute to migraine attacks.
3. Monosodium glutamate (MSG):
Monosodium glutamate is the salt of an amino acid called glutamic acid, which is naturally found in our bodies. Preservatives have been linked to migraine attacks, and monosodium glutamate is the familiar preservative on the list.
According to the American Migraine Foundation, MSG may be attributed to triggers for severe pain in 10 to 15 percent of the people with migraines. MSG is present in foods such as canned soups, instant noodles, potato chips, fast foods, Chinese foods, and frozen foods. The mechanism behind this substance is not yet fully understood, and the dilation of blood vessels in the head caused by MSG might be the reason for being a trigger.
Chocolate is the second most common food trigger for migraine next to alcohol, according to the American migraine foundation. The caffeine and beta-phenylethylamine in the chocolates could be the reason for triggering attacks. Beta-phenylethylamine is a compound that can stimulate the brain.
Migraine symptoms occur in phases, and the prodrome phase is the initial phase in which people may have symptoms such as food cravings. The craving for sweet foods such as chocolate could be a warning of a migraine attack in migraine patients.
5. Aged Cheese:
Aged cheeses contain a substance called tyramine. Tyramine is a chemical naturally found in the body that helps control blood pressure. This chemical could trigger a migraine attack by constricting and dilating blood vessels. The more aged the cheese is, the more tyramine will be present in it. The most common type of cheese that causes triggers include blue cheese, parmesan cheese, and Swiss cheese.
6. Artificial sweeteners:
They are sugar substitutes that can be used instead of regular table sugar to add sweetness to the foods. People who want to reduce sugar or calories in the diet may go for artificial sweeteners. They are also used in processed foods. Artificial sweeteners, particularly aspartame, can increase the risk of migraine attacks.
7. Cured meats:
Cured meats such as bacon, ham, hot dogs, and sausages contain the ingredients nitrates and nitrites. They are added to preserve the flavor and color of the meat. These ingredients can lead to the release of nitric oxide in the blood vessel. This nitric oxide can dilate the blood vessels in the head and could trigger a migraine attack. In addition, some cured meats might contain tyramine which can also precipitate a trigger.
The other notable foods to avoid include salty foods, pickled foods, foods that contain yeast, frozen foods, citrus fruits, nuts and nuts butters.
The Bottom Line
The above-listed foods are some commonly reported foods. Foods not mentioned in the list could also be your migraine trigger. Healthy eating habits can help largely in migraine management. Avoid skipping meals or fasting as they can increase the risk of migraine. Stay hydrated. Always have meals at set times each day.
Try to keep a food journal. It will help you identify the food triggers. If you suspect a specific food is causing a migraine, avoid that food and notice the changes. Make sure your food contains enough magnesium, vitamin B2 and CoQ-10. You can also try out home remedies to ease the pain.