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What Foods To Avoid For Migraines

Drop The Extra Pounds

FOODS I AVOID FOR MIGRAINES // My Dietary Restrictions & How I Figured Them Out

We have known for some time that obese people are more likely to have migraines. They are also more likely to have a chronic migraine, which means they have at least eight per month. One theory is that your extra fat cells are producing inflammatory proteins that trigger these headaches. The good news is that if you lose weight, research shows that your migraines will improve.

Alan Rapoport, MD

The Importance Of Slow Change

When you have any chronic health condition, its important to make dietary changes slowly. This includes positive changes such as adding more good foods for migraines into your eating plan. Suddenly flooding your body with unfamiliar foods when its already stressed and at its breaking point will only cause potentially serious problems.

If you have AFS, the combination of stress, poor health, and troubling symptoms can make your body very sensitive to any changes. It may react poorly or paradoxically to any change, even to changes that should improve your health. Thats why you need to make any changes slowly and with the help of someone who understands your health issues and the complicated mechanisms that cause them. And if you notice any adverse symptoms, stop immediately and seek out help.

Herbal Teas Have Multiple Headache Benefits

Tea can help with overall hydration, which in itself can prevent or relieve a headache, and depending on the type of tea, there are other benefits as well, according to Brown.

Peppermint can be effective in relieving sinus pressure, says Brown. Sinus congestion and pressure are common symptoms of a sinus headache, brought on by inflammation and swelling of the sinuses, according to the American Migraine Foundation.

Peppermint oil is used as an essential oil for headache or migraine. You could put peppermint oil or fresh peppermint in a cup of hot water and inhale the steam and also drink the liquid, says Brown.

A study published in 2019 in the International Journal of Preventive Medicine found that a drop of diluted peppermint oil dripped into the nose was effective in decreasing the intensity of headaches caused by migraine in about 42 percent of participants who tried it.

There is some evidence that ginger tea can help with a tension headache, according to Brown.

Also, a study published in Phytotherapy Research found that drinking a half teaspoon of powdered ginger in warm water helped reduce migraine severity.

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The Role Of Diet In Migraine Headaches

Migraine headaches are a common neurological disorder, and studies show that their prevalence has increased in the last twenty years, especially in children. The cause of the increase in prevalence is not known. The stress of a more hectic and competitive life-style is postulated as a factor, but changes in dietary habits may be equally responsible. Other factors known to precipitate headaches in migraine-susceptible persons include fatigue, exercise, sleep deprivation, bright lights, head trauma, infection, menstruation, and oral contraceptives. A predisposition to migraine headaches has a neuro-vascular and neurochemical mechanism, and the disorder is frequently inherited. The dietary factors known to activate the headache mechanism are called “migraine triggers.”

Foods and beverages that may trigger migraine attacksThe list of foods, food additives, and beverages that can precipitate headaches in migraine-susceptible persons is long and includes the following:

  • Aged or strong cheese
  • Alcoholic drinks
  • Aspartame, nitrites, sulfites.

The elimination of the offending food and chemical from the diet should prevent or lessen the number and severity of migraine attacks.

When adult migraineurs who complained that chocolate provoked their headaches were challenged with either a chocolate bar or a closely matched placebo, 5 of 12 had a typical migraine headache after eating chocolate while none of 8 receiving the placebo suffered a headache


How Your Diet Affects Migraines: Foods To Avoid Foods To Eat

Foods That Prevent Migraine Headaches

Millions of people worldwide experience migraines.

While the role of diet in migraines is controversial, several studies suggest that certain foods may bring them on in some people.

This article discusses the potential role of dietary migraine triggers, as well as supplements that may reduce migraine frequency and symptoms.

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The Best And Worst Foods For Migraines

If you get migraines, then you know that they can be incredibly debilitating. Theyre common during times of stress, which means that youll probably experience one just when youre busy and dont have the time to take a break to recover. There are a lot of strategies that can help alleviate the pain of migraines, but the best strategy is prevention. Thats why you need to know all about the best foods for migraines, so you can avoid potential triggers. This is even more important if youre under a lot of stress, because changes in stress levels and stress-related conditions can bring on or worsen the pain of migraines.

Is It A Trigger Or A Warning

We know that the brain of someone with migraine likes balance, like regular sleep and meal patterns. We also know that migraine can be triggered by alcohol and the menstrual cycle. The evidence for other triggers, such as exercise, eating chocolate and bright light, is less certain.

It can sometimes be difficult to tell if something is really a trigger, or if what youre experiencing is an early symptom of a migraine attack.

Studies have found that sometimes what you may think is a trigger is actually to do with the premonitory or warning stage of a migraine attack.

During this stage, you may get symptoms such as changes in your mood or emotions, cravings for certain foods, and being more sensitive to light, sound or smells.

These symptoms can lead to you think that something is triggering your migraine attack. For example, at the beginning of a migraine attack, you may start to crave sweet foods. You may then eat some chocolate to satisfy the craving. When you then get a headache, you may think that eating chocolate was the trigger. But actually you were starting to have a migraine attack when the cravings started and the cravings were the warning sign.

The same could be true for other triggers. If you are more sensitive to light in the warning stage, you might think bright lights are a trigger. If you are more sensitive to smells, you might think certain scents are a trigger.

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Smoked Or Processed Meats

If you’re eating meats or vegan meats that are processed, they likely contain additives, such as nitrates and nitrites, which can dilate blood vessels and cause headaches in some people. Plus, these meats also have tyramine, says Rizzo, which might lead to the onset of head pain. You’re better off grilling or roasting a plain piece of unprocessed meat and pairing it with fresh veggies instead of pickled or fermented ones.

Best Foods For Headaches

Foods to avoid in Migraine – Ms. Sushma Jaiswal


So its not technically a food, but theres a reason water tastes so good when youre not feeling your best. Dehydration is one of the leading causes of headaches in general, so it makes sense that getting your eight glasses a day may help. In one study looking at water intake and headache incidence, water was significantly associated with a reduction in headache intensity and duration.

Another study found that 47 percent of headaches were improved simply by drinking up, compared with 25 percent of sufferers in a control group who did not. We suggest carrying a full bottle of water around and listening to your body for those early signs of thirst before it gets to an extreme.

You can also help meet your hydration needs by fitting plenty of fruits and veggies with a high water content into your diet. Cucumbers, spinach, watermelon, and berries can all help quench your thirst and supply a range of important vitamins and minerals to keep headaches at bay, says Josh Axe, DNM, DC, CNS, and author of Eat Dirt.

Low-Sodium Foods

While research on salt and headache incidence is in its infancy, one study analyzing the effect of a low-sodium diet found that the likelihood of having a headache was lower when consuming less salt. One easy way to cut back? Avoid those processed foods and meats, which are also rich in those potentially problematic nitrates.

Leafy Greens



Small Amounts of Coffee

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Serotonin Levels Neurotransmitter Imbalances And Migraines

High levels of stress create hormone imbalances that affect many areas of the body, and one key area is your neurotransmitter levels, which are controlled by the Neuroaffect circuit of the NEM system.

This can seriously affect the Neuroaffect circuit, which includes the microbiome or bacterial balance in the body, the autonomic nervous system , and the brain. This system can be pivotal in your experience of migraines because it uses neurotransmitters such as serotonin to communicate. And when it becomes unbalanced, NT imbalances are very common and can cause a range of negative symptoms from mood instability to brain fog and depression.

NTs must exist in a careful balance to ensure good mental and physical health. Unfortunately, this balance can be disrupted when you have AFS. People with AFS often experience an overload of norepinephrine and epinephrine when theyre under stress. This is what causes the fight or flight response. It also causes the ANS to activate, which causes the feeling of being wired but tired. These are excitatory NTs, which means they keep you focused and alert. And when you have high levels of these NTs, its very difficult for inhibitory NTs like serotonin to do their work.

Small Amount Of Coffee Or Tea

One or two cups of coffee or tea each day may provide headache relief, especially if it is a headache triggered by a lack of caffeine. Caffeine can decrease the size of blood vessels, enabling better blood flow. The key is to find a balance and not consume too much caffeine. Too much caffeine can trigger a headache.

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How To Treat A Migraine

If you experience migraines, visit your doctor to rule out any underlying conditions.

Your doctor can also recommend and prescribe painkillers or other medications that might work for you.

If you suspect that certain foods trigger your migraines, try eliminating them from your diet to see if that makes any difference.

For detailed information on how to follow an elimination diet, see this article. Also, consider keeping a detailed food diary.

Some research supports the use of supplements for treating migraines, but the evidence on their effectiveness is limited. Below are summaries of the main ones.

Migraines Vs Regular Headaches

foods that help reduce migraines

Many often confuse migraines for regular headaches and vice versa. While all headaches might seem the same, there is a big difference between a migraine and a regular one. A regular headache usually causes a feeling of pressure in your head, especially near your temples. These often form because of tension or sinus problems.

Migraines are usually much more severe. Sometimes they can be so excruciating that medical help is needed. There are two main types of migraines: aura and non-aura. An aura migraine occurs when a person gets a strange sensation in their body, such as a lack of smell or taste, a few minutes before the migraine strikes. Sometimes these sensations might even occur a few days before the migraine actually happens.

On the other hand, a non-aura migraine doesnt involve these sensations. However, these are usually rare because most people experience aura migraines.

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The Best Foods To Alleviate Migraines:

  • Chia seeds: According to the USDA, chia seeds contain approximately 18 grams of omega-3s for every 3.5 ounces .
  • Algal oil: This oil is one of the ways supplement companies provide an omega-3 to those following a vegan diet. While the omega-3 content can vary, supplements typically provide around 400 to 500 mg of DHA and EPA.
  • Walnuts: If your favorite on-the-go snack is a handful of nuts, then opt for walnuts. They are the only tree nut that provides ALA at 2.5 grams per 1 ounce serving.
  • Flaxseed: According to a 2010 study, 1 tablespoon of flaxseed will provide you 2.3 grams of ALA.

Plant Chat: Stephanie Weaver Mph Cwhc

Sharon Palmer

Published on

Updated on

I am so happy to have my friend Stephanie Weaver, MPH, CWHC on my weekly Plant Chat today! Stephanie is an author, blogger, and certified wellness and health coach. She has a Masters degree of Public Health in nutrition education from the University of Illinois. You can find more than 350 gluten-free recipes on her blog Recipe Renovator, suitable for many special diets. Weaver writes for The Huffington Post, and her recipes have been featured online in Cosmopolitan, Bon Appétit, Cooking Light, and Parade. She lives in San Diego with her husband Bob and their golden retriever Daisy. I was thrilled to contribute to Stephanies wonderful new book The Migraine Relief Plan. Continue reading to learn more about Stephanies new book and her best tips on managing migraines through diet.

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How To Determine Your Food Triggers

Similarly to how peoples bodies can respond differently to various medications, they often respond differently to foods as well. So while alcohol and nitrates may trigger migraines in many people, different types of foods may trigger migraines in other people.

If you have certain food sensitivities, then eating those foods can also trigger migraines. The food intolerance isnt the cause of the migraine, but it can make the migraine worse, or bring it on.

For some people, figuring out what foods if any trigger a migraine can be very obvious. For others, it might be trickier. The good news is that with a little determination and patience, you can get to the bottom of whether certain food triggers are a feature of your migraines or not.

The most common way of doing this is to keep a food and symptom diary. This involves carefully tracking factors that may have been at play when a migraine hit. When you feel it coming on, try logging what you ate or drank, how much sleep you got, if you were on your menstrual cycle, and how often you were eating in the days leading up to it. This is detective work: Recording everything in as much detail as possible will help you determine potential associations and culprits. The longer you keep a food and symptom diary, the more likely you are to get the answers you seek.

The downside of this method is that it can be tedious, and it may take several months to notice a pattern, especially if your migraines are not very frequent.

  • Caffeine

  • S To Avoid Your Triggers

    Migraine Headaches : How to Avoid Getting Migraines
  • Watch what you eat and drink. If you get a headache, write down the foods and drinks you had before it started. If you see a pattern over time, stay away from that item.
  • Eat regularly. Don’t skip meals.
  • Curb the caffeine. Too much, in any food or drink, can cause migraines. But cutting back suddenly may also cause them. So try to slowly ease off caffeine if it seems to be one of your headache triggers.
  • Be careful with exercise. Everyone needs regular physical activity. It’s a key part of being healthy. But it can trigger headaches for some people. If you’re one of them, you can still work out. Ask your doctor what would help.
  • Get regular shut-eye. If your sleep habits get thrown off, or if you’re very tired, that can make a migraine more likely.
  • Downsize your stress. There are many ways to do it. You could exercise, meditate, pray, spend time with people you love, and do things you enjoy. If you can change some of the things that make you tense, set up a plan for that. Counseling and stress management classes are great to try, too. You can also look into biofeedback, where you learn how to influence certain things to calm down stress.
  • Keep up your energy. Eat on a regular schedule, and don’t let yourself get dehydrated.
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    A Few More Potential Trigger Foods

    Even though weâd hate to take the fun out of even more of your favorite foods, we should let you know about these other potential trigger foods. According to the Cleveland Clinic, these foods are commonly reported as migraine triggers, but thereâs no scientific evidence that they really cause them, so donât clean out your fridge just yet. Instead, turn to a migraine tracker to see if any of these might be causing you pain.

    • Avocados
    • Chicken livers and other organ meats
    • Dairy products like buttermilk, sour cream, and yogurt
    • Dried fruits like dates, figs, and raisins
    • Garlic
    • Most beans including lima, fava, navy, pinto, garbanzo, lentils, and snow peas
    • Onions
    • Pickled foods like olives, sauerkraut, and, of course, pickles
    • Potato chips
    • Some fresh fruits like ripe bananas, papaya, red plums, raspberries, kiwi, and pineapple
    • Smoked or dried fish
    • Tomato-based products

    Dont: Go Overboard With Caffeine

    Caffeine, which is found in tea, coffee, and soda, has a delicate relationship with migraines. Because it contains pain-relieving properties, caffeine can actually help people who are in the midst of a migraine attack in fact, its a common ingredient in headache relief medication. In small amounts, regular caffeine consumption probably wont hurt. For most people with migraines, 1 cup of caffeine a day is fine, unless their headaches are really extreme, says Martin. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, an 8 oz cup of coffee contains about 95 milligrams of caffeine.

    People who consume too much caffeine can build up a tolerance that increases their risk of experiencing caffeine withdrawal symptoms when they stop consuming it, including anxiety and headache. Caffeine withdrawal headaches may start as early as 12 to 24 hours after the last dose of caffeine and peak 20 to 51 hours later and may last for up to nine days, notes VanderPluym.

    To be on the safe side, try limiting your caffeine intake , unless you find that even a small amount triggers a migraine for you.

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