You know that crunching numbers from spreadsheets and lack of sleep can trigger your migraine. But are you mindful of the food that you eat? While foods do not necessarily trigger migraine attacks for all sufferers and it is quite possible that certain types of food trigger migraines on some occasions only, it is important that you become your own dietary expert. Keep a journal and track all the food you eat so that you’ll know your reaction to particular food substances.
With that in mind, here are five common food types that you should be especially mindful of since they’re known to trigger migraines among migraine sufferers:
1. Sulfite-rich Foods
Dried fruits, which include apricots, dates, figs, and prunes, contain sulfites, a preservative known to trigger migraines for some sufferers. Other than dried fruits, this preservative is also found in red wines as well as lime, lemon, sauerkraut, and grape juices. Sulfites are sometimes listed on ingredient labels as sodium sulfite, sodium bisulfite, sulfur dioxide, potassium bisulfite, potassium metabisulfite, and sodium metabisulfite.
2. Cold Food
Most sufferers reported that ice cream and other cold foods trigger their migraine attack. The attack mostly happens once they eat cold food right after rigorous exercise or exposure to hot temperature. This is very common as the pain usually starts in the forehead as a result to the sudden change of temperature.
3. Tyramine-rich Foods
Tyramine, which is an amino acid, is one of the products of protein breakdown as food ages. That’s why this substance is found in high amounts in fermented, processed, or aged food types. Examples of food that are rich in tyramine are aged cheese, such as blue, Gorgonzola, Swiss, Stilton, and Canadian cheddar cheese. Cured and processed meat, salted dried fish, alcoholic beverages, fermented or overripe fruits and vegetables contain high amounts of tyramine as well. Generally, the more aged the food substance is, the higher the tyramine content. If you are taking a monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitor as medication, your physician may advise you to avoid food with high contents of tyramine altogether.
4. Aspartame-rich Foods
Artificial sweetener, aspartame, is also known to trigger migraines for most sufferers. In Jean Carper’s book, Food: Your Miracle Medicine, he detailed how 50% of migraine sufferers who participated in his study using aspartame reported increased migraine frequency and duration. In another study, Dr. Mary Eades reports that aspartame triggers migraine attack in 10% of patients. Foods that contain high amounts of aspartame include sugar-free condiments, diet colas, low-calorie desserts, and virtually any food that contains artificial sweetener.
5. Nitrates-Rich Food
Nitrates are another type of food additive found mostly in processed meats, such as bacon, hotdogs, bologna, smoked meats, and sausages. Non-organic vegetables, may also contain high amount of nitrates due to the nitrate-rich fertilizers that are used to grow them. There are also some fruits and vegetables that contain high concentration of nitrates, such as root crops, strawberries, lettuce, beets, and spinach, to name a few. Nitrates are listed as potassium and sodium nitrates, as well as potassium and sodium nitrites on food labels.
In general, processed and leftover foods contain substances that may trigger migraine attacks. Additives commonly found in processed foods, such as yeast extract, monosodium glutamate (MSG), hydrolyzed plant protein (HPP), Hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP), and casseinate are known to increase migraine frequency in some sufferers. Additionally, although caffeinated beverages, such as coffee, tea, chocolate drinks, and sodas are often used to as an additive to make pain relievers more effective, many migraine patients reported that caffeine is a common trigger of their headache.
Aside from this list, you need to be mindful of all the food that you eat. It is entirely possible that the food types mentioned in the list will have no effect on you while lesser known food types can trigger your migraine. If you continuously track your diet, you’ll be able to identify those foods that will most likely provoke your next bouts of headache over time.
Image Credit: Moeshesh