12 foods to avoid if you have migraines

What is a migraine?

Migraines are a common and debilitating condition, affecting about 10% of the population. They can be triggered by many things, but one of the most common triggers is certain types of food. Knowing which foods to avoid could help you reduce your migraines or even eliminate them altogether.

Due to the large variety of symptoms, many different triggers can cause migraines that vary between individuals. By avoiding these twelve foods, people who suffer from migraines may be able to reduce their frequency or completely prevent them entirely.

What are the symptoms of migraines?

Migraines are usually diagnosed when an individual has recurrent attacks that feature a number of neurobiological symptoms. These include:

  1. Throbbing headache with pain on one or both sides of the head, which is worsened by movement. The pain lasts for hours to days and may be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, or both.
  2. Sensitivity to light (photophobia) and/or sound (phonophobia).
  3. Aura – a neurological symptom consisting of visual disturbances such as zigzag lines, flashing lights, or partial loss of vision.

What are migraine triggers?

Although these symptoms can be severe, they are temporary and most people can successfully manage their migraines by avoiding migraine triggers, which include:

  • Aged cheeses and processed meats.
  • Alcohol, especially red wine and champagne.
  • Caffeine found in tea, coffee, cola drinks and energy drinks.
  • Certain citrus fruits like oranges and grapefruits, cherries and bananas.
  • Chocolate, cocoa, or foods containing phenylethylamine, a substance that triggers the release of feel-good chemicals in the brain.
  • Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is found in many processed foods, including soup mixes, salad dressings, frozen dinners, and lunch meats.
  • Certain vegetables are bell peppers, hot sauce, and horseradish.
  • Pickled or marinated foods from a deli or store, including sauerkraut, soy sauce, and tofu.
  • Certain nuts, peanuts and peanut butter.
  • Dairy products such as milk and ice cream.
  • Mint flavorings found in toothpaste, chewing gum, and products like Altoids.
  • Food additives like nitrates (used as preservatives in some processed meats), MSG (a flavor enhancer), and others may cause headaches.

What foods should be avoided if you suffer migraines?

Many other common foods can trigger migraines, including:

  • Chocolate, cocoa, or foods containing phenylethylamine, a substance that triggers the release of feel-good chemicals in the brain.
  • Dairy products such as milk and ice cream.
  • Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is found in many processed foods, including soup mixes, salad dressings, frozen dinners, and lunch meats.
  • Mint flavorings – found in toothpaste, chewing gum, and products like Altoids.
  • Certain nuts – peanuts and peanut butter.
  • Food additives – additives like nitrates (used as preservatives in some processed meats), MSG (a flavor enhancer), and others may cause headaches.

How can I reduce my risk of developing migraines?

In order to prevent migraines from recurring, it is advisable not only to avoid specific food triggers but also to eat a healthy and balanced diet. This will include eating different fruits and vegetables every day because they contain important nutrients which help to maintain general health.

For people who suffer from migraines, eating the wrong foods can be a migraine trigger.

Here are 12 common foods to avoid if you have migraines.

1. Alcohol:

Some people find that drinking alcohol can trigger a migraine. If you have migraines, it’s best to cut out all forms of alcohol for at least one month to see if your symptoms improve. If you do find you have a moderate consumption of alcohol and want to avoid any complications, be sure to drink in moderation.

2. Caffeine:

Caffeine can trigger or worsen a migraine, so it’s best to avoid caffeinated products if you suffer from migraines. If you do consume caffeine, make sure to limit yourself to 200mg per day which is equal to about two cups of coffee.

3. Chocolate:

Chocolate contains caffeine, so eating chocolate can also increase your caffeine intake and cause a migraine. Chocolate also contains a substance called theobromine which can have a “potentiating effect” on caffeine causing an even worse reaction. It’s best to avoid chocolate if you do suffer from migraines.

4. Monosodium glutamate (MSG):

MSG can trigger migraines, especially for people who are sensitive to certain food additives. If you have migraines often, it’s best to avoid foods that contain MSG at all costs.

5. Dairy Products:

Some people find that dairy products can trigger migraine headaches. If you suffer from migraines, it’s best to cut out dairy products for at least one month to see if there is any improvement. If you do want to continue eating dairy products, be sure to eat in moderation.

6. Canned Tuna:

Canned tuna contains high levels of tyramine which can trigger migraines. It’s best to avoid canned tuna entirely if you suffer from migraines.

7. Nuts:

Nuts contain high levels of tyramine which can trigger migraines in some people. It’s best to avoid nuts if you do not want any complications with your migraines.

8. Meat containing nitrates and MSG such as hot dogs, bacon, and pepperoni:

Nitrates found in hot dogs and other processed meats can trigger migraines or make existing migraine symptoms worse. It’s best to avoid nitrate-rich food such as certain types of meat if you want to prevent any complications with your migraines.

9. Cured, dried, and fermented food such as sauerkraut:

Foods such as sauerkraut which is rich in nitrates can trigger migraines if you suffer from food sensitivities. It’s best to avoid high-nitrate foods entirely if you do not want any complications with your migraines.

10. Alcoholic and caffeinated drinks such as beer and coffee:

Both alcoholic and caffeinated drinks can trigger migraines. If you suffer from migraines, it’s best to avoid these types of drinks entirely.

11. Onions:

Onions contain a substance called thiosulphate which can trigger migraines. It’s best to avoid onions if you want to prevent any complications with your migraines.

12. Soy:

Soy contains thickeners that can trigger migraines especially in people who are sensitive to certain food additives. If you want to prevent any complications with your migraines, it’s best to avoid soy products entirely.

Conclusion:

If you suffer from migraines, there are a few things that can trigger your headaches. To help minimize the risk of having one, try avoiding alcohol and caffeine as well as cutting down on chocolate and MSG. You should also avoid dairy products while eating more fish such as tuna or salmon to get some omega-3 fatty acids in your diet. And finally, if possible cut out any foods with nitrates and MSG like hot dogs or pepperoni which could be causing problems for people who have migraine symptoms. Don’t forget about onions either! They often cause issues for those with chronic migraines so it might not be worth trying them just once to see what happens. Finally, soy is linked to increased headache frequency so it’s best to avoid it while you are attempting to get rid of your migraines.

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