Food is one of the biggest triggers of migraine. Food intake is another pattern that often can be discerned with a carefully maintained migraine food triggers diary. Given that so many foods and food additives can lead to migraine, it is not surprising that a person can eat many foods that are triggers without realising it.
One of the biggest migraine food triggers is caffeine. Caffeine is found in foods, soft drinks, coffee and tea. With the proliferation of espresso shops, we are now drinking more coffee and tea than ever before. In women, as little as two cups of coffee can be too much caffeine from a headache perspective.
Caffeine is a potent constrictor of blood vessels, which allows it to serve as a painkiller. This explains why many over-the-counter migraine medications contain caffeine. When you stop the caffeine, however, the vessels dilate which often results in a pounding headache. The caffeine in many prescription medications is believed the culprit in medication overuse headaches. Therefore it is critical that you keep track of all of your caffeine intake and replace as much as possible with noncaffeinated beverages.
Beware though, that you do not stop your caffeine intake abruptly or you will experience a rebound headache. Reduce your caffeine slowly. Be sure to carefully check labels of all soft drinks, sports drinks, and even herbal supplements.
The next most commonly cited food triggers of migraine are chocolate and aged cheeses. Both contain amines. The amines in many foods come together to make proteins, but those found in chocolate and cheeses are particularly problematic.
Tyramine is the amine in aged cheeses, of which blue cheese and cheddar cheese are the biggest offenders. It is very important that you keep track of the cheeses that you eat and record whether you have a headache afterward.
Chocolate is usually a more obvious food trigger of migraines. Many sufferers of migraine have discovered that if they eat a single bar of chocolate, they will develop a migraine of distressing proportions.
Totally eliminating chocolate from your diet may be very difficult. The best solution may be to monitor your cravings and avoid consumption in settings with other migraine food triggers. You may also try different brands of chocolates. Not all chocolates are equal, one type or brand may be better tolerated than another.
Many women crave chocolate around the type of their periods. The consumption of chocolate and the changes in hormones could be a disastrous combination if you are prone to menstrual migraines. Strict avoidance of chocolate perimenstrually (around the time of your period) may be the only solution in these cases.
Another class of foods that cause migraine is processed or preserved foods, which often contain nitrites. Nitrites are chemicals that dilate blood vessels, which can lead to a painful throbbing headache. Foods such as hot dogs, cold cuts, salami, pastrami, sausages, and smoked meats and fish all contain nitrites. Processed and packaged foods are prevalent in our society. Be sure to read all food labels and scout out nitrites among the list of ingredients on all packaged food that you eat.
Citrus fruits have been implicated as a migraine food trigger. It is not known why citrus fruits trigger migraines, but it has been postulated that food sensitivity or allergy could be the cause.
Alcohol is another food trigger of migraine. Red wines, dark beers, brandy and champagne are the most likely to trigger a migraine. Interestingly, vodka and other clear alcoholic spirits are believed to have the lowest potential for triggering migraines. Although you may not get a headache every time you have a drink, it is best to avoid alcohol altogether if you do not want to suffer from an alcohol-induced migraine.
When you suffer from a migraine headache, be sure to record what foods you ate during the 48 hours before the headache.Constantly updating your migraine triggers diary will allow you to better identify migraine food triggers and curtail your intake of these foods.