10 foods that can trigger migraines
Migraines can be absolutely awful and sometimes it can be difficult to find out exactly what triggers them. Bright lights, lack of sleep, stress, and hunger, are just a few of things that can trigger migraines and certain foods can bring on a migraine in some people too.
Unfortunately, the only way to work out what food is triggering your migraines is through experience, but there are some foods that are known to be triggers that you might want to avoid.
Here are ten of those foods that people report do frequently trigger migraines.
1. Mature cheeses
Unfortunately, it is the tastiest, mature cheeses, like aged cheddar, camembert, and gorgonzola that are quite likely to trigger migraines. Experts are not 100% sure what it is in aged cheeses that cause migraines, but it is thought that it may be connected to compounds called tyramines, which can interfere with the neurotransmitters in the brain, that are to blame.
Alcohol is often cited as a trigger of migraines, but wine seems to be the biggest culprit. Drinking any alcohol will dehydrate you and that can bring on migraines. Wine though, especially red wine also contains tannins and flavonoids, which are thought to trigger migraines. Red wines are thought to be worse than white, because they contain higher concentrations of these compounds.
While legumes are not as commonly associated with migraines as some other food, they are still also a suspected migraine trigger. Foods such as beans, peas and lentils, all seem to be a trigger for migraines in some people; even though experts have no idea why. On the other hand, research has also shown that plant based food can help to reduce the pain of migraines, so trial and error will be the only way to find out if legumes are a trigger for you, or a help.
Coffee, or more accurately, the caffeine in coffee, is quite often a trigger of migraines. If you think that caffeine might be what is causing your migraines you will need to switch to decaffeinated coffee and watch out for caffeinated soda drinks too. Alternatively, try just reducing your intake of caffeine and see that if that helps.
5. Hot, spicy foods
The capsicum in chilies and hot peppers, which is what creates the heat, is also a known trigger for migraines, so foods like curry and other hot and spicy dishes could also be what set of your migraine headaches. In fact, chili peppers are so well known as a trigger for migraines that they are often used in research into the causes and effects of the condition.
6. Citrus fruits
While some people do say that citrus fruits, such as oranges, limes and lemons trigger their migraines, research has yet to prove beyond doubt that this is the case. Although it’s not a very common cause of migraines, it is still worth considering if it could be the cause of your own. The best way to find out for sure is to keep a migraine journal. Keep a note what you eat and when you suffer a migraine attack, and then you may be able to tie down exactly what is triggering your migraines.
7. Processed meats
Proceeds and preserved meats such as hotdogs, bacon, and sausages, can contain a preservative called sodium nitrate, which research has shown may cause migraines. The ingredient is thought to cause changes in the chemistry of the brain, which can trigger migraines.
8. Monosodium glutamate (MSG)
Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is well-known as a potential cause of obesity and it’s commonly found in pre-packed foods and fast foods such as Chinese food. It is now thought that MSG could be a trigger for migraines too and one study suggested that 2.5% of attacks may be being caused by MSG. Monosodium glutamate is also found naturally in cheese and tomatoes, so it’s not just processed food that could be a problem.
Chocolate as a migraine trigger may actually be just a myth, but it is still worth a mention. While many people report that it is chocolate that triggers a migraine attack, it could be that the migraine attack is triggering a craving for chocolate. In a study conducted in Brazil, researchers found that people in the early stages of a migraine attack craved chocolate. Nothing has been proven for certain, though, so chocolate should stay on your list of possible migraine triggers.
The artificial sweetener aspartame, which is found in low calorie drinks and packaged foods, has been linked to a number of health issues, so its ability to trigger migraines is just one of many concerns about the additive. Although research into the possibility that aspartame can cause migrates is limited, there is certainly enough evidence to suggest a connection to make it worth avoiding.
Stay happy and healthy!