15 foods that may trigger migraines

What is a Migraine?  

A migraine is not just a headache but also accompanied by sensitivity to light and sound, nausea or vomiting, or visual disturbances like seeing zigzag lines. The most common type of migraines is called vascular headaches which are thought to be caused by changes in the brain’s blood vessels. These migraines can range from a mild pain that lasts for hours to severe headaches lasting for days. There are rare types of migraines called ophthalmoplegic migraine which affects one eye muscle on each side at once and hemiplegic migraine which causes numbness on one side of the body.

Migraines are a debilitating and often chronic condition that can affect anyone. They’re not just headaches, but they’re also accompanied by the symptoms of sensitivity to light and sound, nausea and vomiting, or visual disturbances like seeing zigzag lines or bright flashes. And they can be so bad as to make you vomit, drool uncontrollably, become unresponsive for hours at a time, or even lose consciousness. But migraines aren’t caused by anything obvious such as dirt in your eye or too much caffeine; rather what triggers them is still something of a mystery. That’s because there are no substances that have been proven scientifically to cause migraines with certainty although some people do experience relief from their symptoms when avoiding certain foods.

Here are 15 foods that may trigger migraines.

1. Bacon:

Notorious for its high sodium content, bacon is best avoided if you’re at risk of getting migraines or have already been diagnosed with them since foods high in salt can bring on debilitating headaches. Bacon also contains several naturally occurring chemicals which can give rise to migraines.

2. Processed foods:

Sugar or foods that have been processed can trigger migraines for some people, so it’s important to keep track of what you’re eating and how it affects you especially if you’ve experienced migraines regularly since childhood.

3. Cured meats:

Just like bacon, foods high in salt such as cured meats like ham, salami and chorizo can trigger migraines in susceptible people.

4. MSG:

Monosodium glutamate is an additive used to enhance the flavor of foods, but it’s also a common migraine trigger that you may want to avoid if you’re not feeling up to eating out at restaurants.

5. Alcohol:

Although there isn’t scientific evidence to prove that drinking alcohol triggers migraines in people who don’t usually get them, some sufferers report experiencing debilitating headaches when they drink too much or eat foods that have been marinated in wine or beer. And foods with caffeine such as coffee and tea can also trigger a migraine.

7. Caffeine:

This stimulant causes a rush of adrenaline, which can trigger the release of migraine-causing chemicals in your brain—and foods with caffeine such as coffee and tea can also trigger a migraine. Coffee drinkers often find that they experience more migraines when they skip their morning cup too.

8. Cheese:

There’s no proof that foods like cheese can trigger migraine symptoms, but it does contain high levels of tyramine which is a common culprit in rousing migraines. Cheese also contains other ingredients such as glutamate or nitrates that can cause problems for some people.

9. Citrus foods:

Thanks to the large quantities of the amino acid tyramine they contain, foods like oranges are another common trigger of migraines.

10. Onions:

Migraine sufferers may want to stay away from foods high in tyramine such as onions since it can trigger or worsen their migraine symptoms.

11. Chocolate:

The sweet treat contains caffeine and substances that resemble the neurotransmitters serotonin and anandamide which trigger migraine symptoms in some people especially if they’ve been excluded from your diet for several days.

12. Tuna:

This popular fish contains high levels of tyramine and is another food to avoid if you’re susceptible to migraines.

13. Salt foods:

Salty foods such as processed meats, bacon, ham, and canned foods are all potential triggers of migraines since they contain both sodium and tyramine which can rouse them.

15. Wine and beer foods:

Foods that have been marinated or cooked in wine or beer can contain tyramine which is a potent trigger of migraines, so you’re better off avoiding foods like chicken livers, sauerkraut, and pickled herring if you want to reduce your chances of experiencing one.


With so many triggers, it’s no wonder why people with migraines have a hard time pinpointing what is triggering their headaches. The best way to identify your personal migraine trigger(s) is by keeping a food journal where you track the foods and drinks that are consumed daily for at least 3-4 weeks. If there are certain items in the list of 15 most common triggers that keep appearing more often than others, then these should be avoided or eliminated from your diet as much as possible. It may also help to consult with a doctor who specializes in headache disorders if you can’t figure out which specific food or drink item might be inflaming your pain. We hope this blog post has helped point you in the right direction!

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