Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Migraine does the food you eat trigger them?

We all suffer one time or another with migraines, could the triggers be the food we eat?  Yes some case studies show that certain foods can cause migraines for simple fact they contain tyramine.  (Tyramine is a compound known as an amine found in many foods, produced from the natural breakdown of the amino acid, tyrasine. Tyramine can cause blood vessels to dilate, and this may be what starts the migraine chain-reaction in some people.)

A migraine is caused by abnormal brain activity, which is triggered by stress, certain foods, environmental factors, or something else. However, the exact chain of events remains unclear. Today, most medical experts believe the attack begins in the brain, and involves various nerve pathways and chemicals. The changes affect blood flow in the brain and surrounding tissues.
Migraine attacks may be triggered by:
  • Alcohol
  • Allergic reactions
  • Bright lights
  • Certain odors or perfumes
  • Changes in hormone levels (which can occur during a woman's menstrual cycle or with the use of birth control pills)
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Exercise
  • Loud noises
  • Missed meals
  • Physical or emotional stress
  • Smoking or exposure to smoke
Certain foods and preservatives in foods may trigger migraines in some people. Food-related triggers may include:
  • Any processed, fermented, pickled, or marinated foods
  • Baked goods
  • Chocolate
  • Dairy products
  • Foods containing monosodium glutamate (MSG)
  • Foods containing tyramine, which includes red wine, aged cheese, smoked fish, chicken livers, figs, and certain beans (Food with tyramine is generally preserved or aged. For this reason, you should be very wary of leftovers that have been in the refrigerator for more than 24-48 hours. The more “aged” foods become, the worse the trigger may be. )
  • Fruits (avocado, banana, citrus fruit)
  • Meats containing nitrates (bacon, hot dogs, salami, cured meats)
  • Nuts
  • Onions
  • Peanut butter
This list may not include all triggers.
True migraine headaches are not a result of a brain tumor or other serious medical problem. However, only an experienced health care provider can determine whether your symptoms are due to a migraine or another condition.

Now what foods are good for migraine's?  If your like me I don't only want to know what I can't eat but what can I eat....

Foods rich in magnesium such as:

Spinach (yep Popeye again he was a smart sailor)
Cayen pepper
Fish and Fish oil foods rich in calcium.

Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is sometimes added as a flavor enhancer in Chinese restaurants. It is also found in commercial soups, soy sauce, salad dressings, frozen dinners, soup mix, croutons, stuffing, and some chips. It can be disguised on food labels as sodium caseinate, hydrolyzed proteins, or autolyzed yeast.
If you think foods may be worsening your migraine symptoms, consult your doctor as a first step.

Diet isn't a treatment for migraine, but for some people, avoiding certain foods may help prevent attacks.

Simultaneously eliminating all possible trigger foods is generally not recommended because of the sheer number of potential triggers. Most people would find the diet too restrictive and difficult to adhere to.

Instead, keeping a diet diary may help to identify any food triggers. The diet diary should list all foods eaten every day, with approximate times. The appearance of any symptoms should be noted. If food triggers are found, selectively avoiding only those foods may help.

Skipping meals can be a trigger for some people, so eating regular, well-balanced meals is often advised.

As usual I love to hear from you guys on any info you may have that can help migraines!


  1. Really helpful and important post. My mom had them for years before she passed. Back then they had no idea! Just gave her pain killers and she stayed in the dark..Thanks


  2. Yoga for migraines :)

    This is really good! Drink water, eat "lighter" foods. The diet diary is a really good idea.

  3. Great article. I suffer with migraine and it helped me that once I had identified my triggers, I needed to identify my body telling me a migraine was on the way...a smell of sweaty feet (eugh) is my warning sign. Glad to know you are giving people access to this type of info.


  4. Excellent info! I always considered migraines to be chronic, but every blue moon I'll have what I call a "sick" headache, with light sensitivity and queasiness. I'll have to pay attention to any triggers, next time.

  5. Wonderful information! I get migraines, but I know where mine come from...one source....STRESS!!!
    Once I get that out of my life, I will be okay:)
    Thank you for sharing!

  6. Its unbelievable what a problem migraines are. An estimated 15% of the adult population suffers from migraines and they are reported to be twice as common in females as in males. An article in the Times Newspaper, a very respected UK National Newspaper showed research that Migraine sufferers could find relief in three aspirin tablets. Heres a link http://www.nhs.uk/news/2010/04April/Pages/Aspirin-and-migraine.aspx

  7. Great information thanks! I would also like to add that as well as specific foods, I have found yoga and breathing exercises really help to alleviate the pain of migraines.
    A clean, healthy lifestyle in general!!

  8. I have to keep my caffeine intake low, and consistent from day to day. I love dark chocolate and I do eat it, but if I splurge one day, it's Migraine City the next day (or two).

  9. Wow lots of good info! I agree about the yoga. I've been doing it since I was 13, and even through major back problems and chronic pain I have kept some good flexibility. Yoga not only works outer body/mind but also works on you internally. It is a lifesaver for women at my age and for anyone with stomach pain. I am undertaking a food diary again and going on a lectin elimination diet. Have you heard about lectins? They are mainly found in dairy, gluten, eggs, soy, beans, nuts and nightshade vegetables and can trigger inflammation anywhere in the body as well as autoimmune disorders. My rheumatologist told me about them- here is a link if you want more info: http://www.krispin.com/lectin.html#Plain English