Overripe Dried Or Citrus Fruits
Certain fruits can lead to migraines, particularly those that are exceptionally sweet. Dried fruits, citrus juices and overly ripe fruits are amongst these. Examples include figs, raisins, papaya and overripe bananas. Canned fruit stored in sweetened syrup or with added preservatives can also serve as culprits. In general, fresh fruit is best.
- Certain fruits can lead to migraines, particularly those that are exceptionally sweet.
- Canned fruit stored in sweetened syrup or with added preservatives can also serve as culprits.
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.
Foods That Trigger Ocular Migraines
Ocular migraines are migraines that affect vision. An ocular migraine generally starts as a blind spot in one’s peripheral vision that increases over time. Although triggers and causes of migraines vary, certain foods have been shown to trigger or worsen migraines more than others. Health care professionals at Loyola University of Medicine suggest keeping a food diary that tracks food consumption and onset of the migraines, as well as avoiding particular foods.
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Food Cravings Predict Migraine
According to the National Headache Foundation, some people who get migraines may have subtle warnings by way of food cravings between 4 and 72 hours before the actual onset of the migraine. Note: This craving doesnt necessarily mean your migraine is triggered by the food itself. For example, while chocolate can trigger migraines for some people, concurrently, people with migraine may experience chocolate cravings up to several days before their migraine. In these cases, the chocolate cravings and the migraine are correlated, but one does not necessarily cause the other.
Can Food Affect Migraines
In the past, certain foods like cheese, chocolate, and caffeine were thought by many people to trigger migraine attacks. But while these foods may bring on migraines in some people, there isnt a lot of scientific evidence to suggest that this is true for a majority of people with migraine.
What experts now believe is that the food thought to trigger the migraine is sometimes a craving that is part of the pre-headache phase of the migraine. Confused? Lets look at an example.
You eat a whole bar of dark chocolate one night. The next day you wake up with a migraine. You assume the chocolate triggered it. But what is probably going on is that in your pre-headache phase, you are experiencing heightened sensations that are coming out as a craving for dark chocolate. So, the craving for dark chocolate is actually part of the migraine, not the trigger.
Heres what we know for sure about food and migraines: Skipping meals is reported as a trigger in 57% of migraines, alcohol in 38%, and food in 27%.
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What Is An Elimination Diet And Should I Try One
An elimination diet consists of removing a long list of foods from your diet that may be triggering a Migraine attack.
“Besides red wine and MSG, in terms of food triggers, there really is not good enough evidence to justify elimination diets,” said Dr. Charles. “An elimination diet can really interfere with someones quality of life, and that kind of interference may be unnecessary.”
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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What Cheese Can People With Migraines Eat
If you’re a migraine sufferer, you already know how debilitating those headaches can be. But what you may not know is there’s 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.
The Connection Between Your Diet And Migraines
While migraines may arise due to a wide range of factorsand these vary from person to persontheres no doubt that diet and dietary patterns are linked to the condition. How so? Heres a quick breakdown:
- Certain foods and drinks contain substances that may trigger migraine attacks.
- Skipping meals or eating at irregular times can also bring on migraines.
- Obesity is a risk factor for migraines, so diet may be used to promote weight loss.
More research is needed about the exact associations between diet and migraines. However, the current consensus is that they increase the chances of attacks. And, for an estimated 20% of those with this disorder, certain foods and drinks act as triggers.
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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.
Are You Having An Allergic Reaction To The Cheese You Eat
Although many people mislabel their lactose intolerance a milk allergy, the two conditions are actually very different. According to the Mayo Clinic, people with a milk allergy have an abnormal reaction to one or both of the proteins in dairy products, casein and whey. Eating dairy triggers an immune response that can cause hives, swelling in and around the mouth, shortness of breath, GI upset, and, in severe cases, anaphylaxis and even death. Lactose intolerance, on the other hand, is caused by the body’s inability to digest the sugar in milk and doesn’t affect the immune system.
The American College of Asthma, Allergy & Immunology reported that two to three percent of children under the age of three are allergic to milk, and about 20 percent will not outgrow the allergy by the time they turn 16.
While people with a milk allergy must avoid all dairy products, cheese is particularly dangerous for those allergic to the casein in dairy. As Forbes explained, “A cup of milk contains 7.7 grams of protein, 80% of which is casein. When converted to cheddar, for example, the protein content multiplies 7-fold, to 56 grams.”
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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.
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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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.
Why Arent Bananas On The Migraine Diet
Bananas usually dont appear on lists of foods that trigger migraines, but they could trigger a migraine for people who are sensitive to tyramine, the same substance found in aged cheese. Studies show that the peel has about 10 times more tyramine than the banana pulp. There are no reliable studies on this, but you might want to avoid those stringy pieces of inner peel that stick to your banana if a food diary points to it as a likely migraine trigger for you.
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What To Drink During A Migraine Attack
Even if you dont feel like eating or drinking, dehydration will definitely make your symptoms worse. Migraine attacks often come with nausea or vomiting, making food seem unappealing. Understand why here.
Even for people who dont have nausea and vomiting, gastroparesis can occur during a migraine attack. Its when your digestive system stops functioning.
What can you eat or drink during an attack? These drinks do double duty by helping you feel better and hydrating you at the same time:
What Foods Have Been Considered To Trigger Migraine In Susceptible People
There are multiple foods that are thought to possibly trigger a migraine attack. Nearly all foods have been generated by patient self report and almost none have any scientifically valid backing from high quality studies.
The most commonly reported food triggers are alcohol and chocolate . Although the majority of headache sufferers cannot identify specific food triggers, headache patients are often given a broad recommendation to monitor their headaches after eating foods that historically have been thought to contain possible headache-triggering chemicals, such as tyramine , beta-phenylethylamine , and nitrates . In actuality, there have been no studies or only negative trials for headache provocation for cheeses, chocolate, dairy products, soy isoflavones and vegetables.
Processed meats containing high levels of nitrites and nitrates may be highly predictable migraine triggers in some individuals. Yet, only one patient has actually been studied with the result suggesting very pure nitrates, at high dose , induce attacks while dietary nitrates and nititrites may in susceptible individuals. Some foods can cause the blood vessels to dilate and so create the early changes seen in migraine attacks. Some foods contain a significant amount of tyraminean amino acid that can provoke the early blood vessel changes typical of migraine.
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Is There Such A Thing As A Migraine Prevention Diet
Diet may be important for some headache sufferers, but not for others. Almost half of headache sufferers report that fasting will trigger a headache. Some patients try to eliminate from their diet anything listed as a potential trigger, but the list of foods that may trigger migraine can be exhaustive. Therefore, dietary restriction of all migraine triggers for any extended length of time is likely unhealthy.
A rational and useful approach about migraine and diet needs to focus on learning the facts and being smart. Patients should invest some time in learning about which foods are potential triggers for them, and then they can try to limit their consumption, especially during high-risk times. Over time, it is possible to become skillful in identifying migraine triggers and avoiding these selected foods at those times when their risk of migraine is high. For example, at certain times in the menstrual cycle, many women experience more frequent headache attacks.
Two common food items have been tested in several studies. An aspartame study showed only a modest worsening of headache in subjects who consumed huge amounts of aspartame for one month.
In a study of chocolate as a trigger, eating even large amounts of chocolate didnt trigger headaches when patients couldnt tell if they were eating chocolateeven for individuals who believed chocolate was a headache trigger for them.
How Food Triggers Head Pain
Doctors believe its not the food itself that can lead to chronic migraines, but rather certain chemicals within it. For example, tyramine is found in aged cheeses and can constrict or dilate blood vessels, potential triggers for a migraine attack. Meanwhile, salty foods or marinades like soy sauce can cause dehydration, which may also lead to head pain. Whats more, processed meats containing high levels of nitrites, which are known migraine triggers in some individuals. When it comes to alcohol, red wine is a frequent culprit due to chemicals in it associated with migraines.
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Blame The Cold For Headaches After Eating Ice Cream
The stabbing headache after eating ice cream is a reaction to the cold, not the ice cream itself. An ice cream headache is more likely if you are overheated. The pain peaks in about 30 to 60 seconds. “Cold foods, like ice cream, may be migraine triggers for people who suffer from migraines, but for most people, the pain goes away quickly. The solution is to eat your ice cream or drink your cold drink more slowly,” advises Daroff.
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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