From coffee to oranges – helpful tips for avoiding those foods that may just trigger a migraine.
A migraine is so much more than a headache. It is pain that goes beyond that of broken bones or cuts. It’s a deep, throbbing pain, usually behind one eye, that can be triggered by food, hormones or even stress. The pain extends to sensitivity to light and sound and can even impact how (or what) you can see. Some people even experience nausea and vomiting along with the pain.
While the specifics of migraines vary as much as the sufferer, the attacks can last from hours to days — or even longer if you are unlucky enough to suffer from a cluster of migraines.
The good news is there is usually a “trigger”. Something that can be controlled to limit the number, or sometimes the severity of the attack.
For me, it is a combination of alcohol and chocolate that will trigger a migraine within minutes. The problem is you don’t always realize when you have consumed something. Like the time I was at a business dinner and the dessert was chocolate with a chocolate liquor in it. Or the time I discovered this amazing fat-free brownie that also had a chocolate liquor in it (and I couldn’t figure out why my migraines kept occurring every few days until I read the label).
Here’s what you need to know about the top 10 most common migraine trigger foods.
Migraine and Citrus Fruits
Examples: Oranges, tangerine, grapefruit, pineapple, lemon, lime
While fruit is usually part of any healthy diet, to someone living with migraine triggers, they are pain waiting to happen due to their high levels of tyramine.
Migraine and Caffeine
Example: Coffee, tea, cola
Caffeine as a migraine trigger is a study in contradictions. While over-the-counter migraine pills will have caffeine to help stop the pain, for many people, caffeine is the cause of the pain. The only way to know if it is a problem or cure it track your intake and migraines and see if there is a connection for you.
Migraine and Alcohol
Any kind of alcohol can be a migraine trigger. Some research revealed that 35% of migraine sufferers reported that alcohol was their main trigger.
Red wine, in particular, is a trigger for the majority of alcohol related sufferers, but any kind of alcohol can trigger a migraine. This is largely due to tyramine which is introduced during the alcohol fermentation process.
Migraine and Cheese
Aged cheeses, usually labeled as such, and not to be confused with more processed varieties, can also trigger migraines. Much like alcohol, tyramine is introduced in the aging process. Examples of aged cheese are blue, stilton, cheddar, mozzarella, camembert, and parmesan.
Migraine and Processed Meats
The nitrates and nitrites as well as tyramine found in processed meats like ham, bacon, sausages, pepperoni, salami and hot dogs and other processed meats create another known migraine trigger.
Migraine and MSG (monosodium glutamate)
MSG is often associated with chinese food, but it is also a common additive which is found in many of today’s foods. This one can be hard to spot because it can fly under the radar as “natural flavor” on ingredient statements.
Migraine and Chocolate
Many people blame chocolate as their migraine trigger. But again, for me it was chocolate and a chocolate liquor that created the issue, not a candy bar like you get at the check-out stand of a grocery store. And they contain caffeine too, so you may not be sure what is causing your trigger until you dig a little deeper on this one.
Migraine and Aspartame
Aspartame is common artificial sweetener which is found in a diverse assortment of food products including soft drinks and bakery items. While the research on this is mixed, the Mayo Clinic and American Migraine Foundation list aspartame as a possible migraine trigger.
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