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Migraine Prone? Avoid The Common Dietary Triggers

Written by 9rules Blog on January 30, 2016

There are many factors that can contribute to migraines, including weather changes, lack of sleep, and hormone fluctuations. Even depression is linked to increased migraine activity. What many migraine sufferers have noted, however, is that there are certain foods that consistently trigger migraines. If you’re prone to migraines, you’ll need to target your own unique trigger foods. Here are a few common triggers to investigate first.

woman with migraine

Mind Your Alcohol Consumption

Alcohol is a common migraine trigger for multiple reasons. First, any alcohol may cause dehydration, which can trigger a migraine, so it’s important to counter any alcohol with adequate amounts of water to prevent this from happening and avoid drinking in excess.

Second, sulfites, a preservative used in red wine, have been closely linked to migraines. If you notice that migraines crop up when you drink, try switching to white wine or another alcoholic beverage. This can help you determine if your migraines are triggered by alcohol more generally or specifically by sulfites.

Beware Of Aged Cheeses

Cheese is undoubtedly delicious, but aged cheeses ranging from cheddar to Brie and Camembert all have the potential to trigger migraines. Why? These cheeses contain the amino acid tyramine and tyramine can impact blood vessel dilation in the brain by reducing serotonin levels.

Cheeses aren’t alone in containing tyramine, though, so if you suspect you’re vulnerable to the activity of this amino acid, there are many other foods you’ll need to monitor closely. Other common sources of tyramine include avocados, venison, soy-based foods, and overripe bananas.

The Mystery Of MSG

MSG is a strange substance and people blame a range of health issues on it, including migraines. But is MSG any different from other salts? While the FDA has heard many different complaints, loosely deemed MSG symptom complex, there are no clear studies tying these symptoms to this mysterious salt.

Either way, there are people who blame MSG for migraines, and it’s worth assessing its impact on your body. You’ll find it in substances like meat tenderizers and seasoning salts, so watch these foods closely when checking for migraine triggers.

Gluten, Celiac Disease, And Migraines

While gluten – the substance that gives bread products their particular texture – may not cause migraines on its own, for those with Celiac disease, consuming gluten may trigger a migraine among other symptoms.

It’s important not to confuse gluten intolerance for Celiac disease. Gluten intolerance primarily causes gastrointestinal symptoms and is rooted in difficulty digesting the substance. Celiac, however, is an autoimmune condition in which the body attacks itself in response to consuming foods containing gluten. For those with Celiac, eliminating gluten should reduce or eliminate migraines.

If your gluten intolerance causes inflammation more broadly, this can contribute to migraines. However, you’ll need to monitor processed food intake alongside gluten, as other processed food products can also contribute to similar inflammatory processes.

The Question Of Caffeine

Caffeine can be one of the trickiest trigger foods in the migraine universe. This is because both too much and too little caffeine can contribute to migraines. If you don’t drink coffee when you ordinarily do, you may find that you suffer from a withdrawal headache and that may evolve into a migraine. On the other hand, too much caffeine can cause a headache to develop when the effects wear off.

For some people, however, caffeine in moderation helps reduce migraines by restricting blood flow in the brain and thereby reducing brain swelling. This is why you’ll find caffeine in some migraine medications. All told, then, the jury is still out on caffeine.

Test And Confirm

Migraine triggers are unique to each person, but you’ll need to keep a food diary with detailed information about your food and beverage intake in order to confirm what foods are causing problems for you. You should also make note of other details such as the weather, menstrual cycles if you’re a woman, and sleep and exercise habits, as all of these factors can contribute to migraines. With any luck, you’ll be suffering from fewer migraines soon.