Foods That Cause Migraines

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Many foods can be linked to triggering headaches and migraines. Foods associated with migraines contain a natural substance or food additives--sometimes a combination of both--that contribute to the onset of migraines. Knowing which foods contain ingredients that are migraine triggers can be the first step to reducing the occurrence of migraines.

Natural Migraine Contributing Substance

  • Tyramine is a natural substance found in protein-based foods. Tyramine forms from the breakdown of protein, and can trigger severe hypertension resulting in migraines.

Foods Containing Tyramine

  • The following foods contain high levels of tyramine and should be avoided by migraine sufferers:

    Avocados
    Bananas
    Beef liver
    Blue cheese
    Bologna
    Canned soup
    Camembert cheese
    Cheddar cheese
    Chicken liver
    Dates
    Dried figs
    Fava beans
    Garbanzo beans
    Kiwi
    Lima beans
    Nuts
    Olives
    Onions
    Papaya
    Peanut butter
    Pepperoni
    Pineapple
    Pinto beans
    Raisins
    Raspberries
    Red plums
    Roquefort cheese
    Salami
    Sauerkraut
    Soy sauce
    Spinach
    Stilton cheese
    Summer sausage
    Swiss cheese
    Teriyaki
    Tofu
    Tomatoes
    Yeast
    Yeast extracts

Food Additives Proven to Contribute to Migraines

  • Nitrates, nitrites, monosodium glutamate (MSG), salt, aspartame, meat tenderizer and soy sauce are food preservatives that have the ability to dilate blood vessels and cause migraines. Most processed foods contain additives; while some contain minuscule amounts, others contain as many additives as the original product.

Foods Containing Food Additives

  • The following foods typically are abundant in food additives and should be avoided by people who suffer from frequent migraines:

    Bacon
    Cured meat
    Deli meat
    Hot dogs
    Ham
    Luncheon meat
    Oriental foods
    Pepperoni
    Pickles
    Processed meat
    Red wine
    Sausage
    Whiskey

Dairy Products Can Trigger Migraines

  • The protein found in milk is a known allergenic for many people. This protein--casein--creates histamines, which in turn are responsible for the production of mucus. Excessive mucus puts pressure on brain membranes, which can trigger migraines.

Dairy Products to Avoid

  • Dairy products may contribute to migraines for many people. To see if dairy products trigger migraines, avoid the following:

    Cheese (all types)
    Ice cream
    Milk
    Sour cream
    Yogurt

Considerations

  • Every person who experiences migraines may have different triggers; therefore, avoiding all foods listed may not be entirely necessary. For this reason, it is recommended to determine triggers through an elimination process. Eliminate all foods listed for four to six weeks, then add one food each week. Any unpleasant side effects noticed upon reintroducing a food would indicate a food to avoid.

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