10 Migraine Causing Foods and Migraine Treatments
One of the most common diseases today is migraine, and unfortunately, many things, including what we eat and drink, can trigger a migraine attack. According to the Migraine Research Foundation, migraine-inducing foods can only trigger migraines when combined with other triggers. But these combinations tend to be very individual, making research difficult. Although there is no universal trigger for migraine, there are several common triggers that can cause or contribute to migraine attacks.
Excessive consumption of caffeine can trigger migraines. However, according to the Migraine Foundation of America, caffeine can actually help stop impending migraine attacks when consumed in very moderate amounts. It can also relieve headaches if used occasionally. Foods and drinks containing caffeine include:
2. Artificial sweeteners
Many processed foods contain artificial sweeteners. These are sugar substitutes added to foods and drinks to add sweetness. But these sweeteners can cause migraines. In particular, aspartame has been observed to trigger migraine attacks.
Alcohol, as we all guessed, is one of the most common migraine-inducing foods. According to one study, over 35% of participants with migraines reported that alcohol was one of their common triggers.
Over 77% of participants who cited alcohol as a trigger, especially red wine, were cited as a trigger. Alcohol can cause dehydration, which plays an important role in the development of headaches.
According to the American Migraine Foundation, chocolate is considered the second most common migraine trigger after alcohol. They say it affects about 22 percent of people who have migraine attacks.
Chocolate contains both caffeine and beta-phenylethylamine, which can cause headaches in some people.
5. Products containing monosodium glutamate
Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is the sodium salt of glutamic acid naturally present in our body. MSG is more commonly found in some foods as a dietary supplement. Its consumption is considered safe, but some researchers have linked it to migraine attacks.
The American Migraine Foundation states that it can cause severe migraine attacks in 10 to 15 percent of people with migraines. Other preservatives can also be triggers for some people.
6. Meat delicacies
All smoked meats, including deli meats, ham, sausages, contain preservatives called nitrates, which retain color and taste. These foods can release nitric oxide into the blood, which is thought to dilate blood vessels in the brain. There is some evidence that nitric oxide may cause or contribute to migraines.
7. Aged cheeses
Aged cheeses contain a substance called tyramine. This occurs when food aging causes proteins to break down.
The longer the cheese is stored and aged, the higher the tyramine content will be. Tyramine is another chemical that is said to cause headaches and migraines. Common cheeses that are high in tyramine include:
- Chees Feta
- Blue cheese
- parmesan cheese
8. Pickled and fermented foods
Like aged cheeses, pickled and fermented foods can be high in tyramine. These products include:
- Kombucha (may also contain alcohol)
- pickled beets
9. Frozen foods
Frozen foods and drinks can cause severe stabbing pain. If you eat cold food quickly, you may experience headaches that turn into migraine attacks after exercise or when you overheat.
10. Salty food
Salty foods, especially salty processed foods that may contain harmful preservatives, can trigger migraines in some people. Consuming large amounts of sodium can increase blood pressure, causing headaches or migraine attacks.
Migraine treatment may involve a combination of prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medications and alternative medications.
For recurring headaches or migraines, you can take over-the-counter medications such as Excedrin Migraine to help relieve pain. Your doctor may also prescribe triptan medications to reduce pain.
If you experience regular migraine attacks, your doctor will likely prescribe preventive medications. These may include beta-blockers, which can lower blood pressure and reduce migraine attacks. Antidepressants are sometimes prescribed to prevent migraine symptoms, even for those who are not depressed.
There is evidence that some alternative medications may help treat migraines. These:
- Massage therapy, which can reduce the frequency of migraine attacks.
- Vitamin B2 (riboflavin), which may help prevent migraine attacks.
- magnesium supplements
Migraine attacks can be painful and seriously disrupt your life. Luckily, there are some lifestyle changes and habits you need to make in order to prevent them. These:
- Regular meals and never skip meals
- limiting caffeine intake
- sleep regularly
- Reduce stress in your life by trying yoga, mindfulness, or meditation.
- Limiting the amount of time you look at bright lights or direct sunlight, both of which can trigger sensory migraines.
- Frequent “screen breaks” from TV, computer, and other screens.
- Try an elimination diet to help identify any food allergies or intolerances that may be causing the headache.
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