According to an ever-increasing number of studies, food and food additives are the most common trigger for migraine headaches. Some studies put food as the culprit behind kicking off the physiological reaction that causes migraine headaches in as much as seventy percent of cases. Other, however, lay the blame for good at a much lower percentage.
It would be an exercise in futility, or at least an exercise in filling up what precious free (headache-free) time you have to test every single food that is related to triggering migraines. You definitely get ahead in the showdown by becoming aware of what foods you commonly eat that are known to trigger the deathly, pounding pain that drives you mad.
Avoiding a suspected food trigger or group of food triggers entirely, however, is not the answer. Doing this can adversely affect other areas of your health, not to mention that youre just asking for headaches (migraine or otherwise) by skipping meals or not eating enough. Certain foods are almost guaranteed to be at the top of your list when hunting down the triggers of your migraines. For instance, foods that are rich in the amino acid tyramines (aged cheese, red wines) should always be considered. In addition, if you eat a lot of hot dogs and deli foods and notice you have a lot of migraines as well, you should know that certain nitrates used in large amounts in these kinds of food are probably the trigger. Chocolate is often a major suspect in the hunt for the true killers of head peace because of its high content of phenylethylamine, but several studies have questioned the validity of this dichotomy. Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) is probably public enemy number one when it comes to food additives and migraines.
There simply isnt enough space here to provide a comprehensive list of all food and food additives suspect to play a part in triggering migraines, but here a list of the most common.
- peanuts and peanut butter
caffeine in all products, not just coffee
some beans (which includes peanut), as well as broad, lima, Italian, lentil, soy, peas
canned soups and packet soup mixes
soy products as well as the bean itself
sodium nitrate, which is used to preserve hot dogs, bacon and cured meats
the preservative benzoic acid and its associated compounds
MSG, common name for monosodium glutamate, a flavor enhancer which is now in almost universal use in almost all processed foods
cheeses which have been aged, i.e. cheddar
red wines, beer, champagne, vermouth
As alluded to early, going without food or severe curtailing of your diet is nothing but another trigger and should be avoided. Instead, plan regular meals throughout the day. You might want to try to a restrictive diet, in which you limit your food intake for about a month. (Restrictive diets are not recommended if you are pregnant, however, because by avoiding the potential trigger, you could also be upsetting your balance of nutrition.) If you experience no change in your migraine routine, you can probably assume that your trigger is not food-related. On the other hand, should you find that migraine situation improves over the course of this restricted diet, then simply add foods back your daily routine one at a time. If it is a certain kind of food that you are eating turns out to be responsible, the headache should probably trigger within twelve hours of consumption.
Eating a certain food should trigger a headache within 12 hours. Then you can limit those few foods to which you are sensitive. Never restrict all your possible food triggers. For one thing, its probably not going to help you narrow it down and for another avoiding all your favorite foods is just going to make you more stressful which may trigger the headache anyway.
Test yourself with food triggers to determine if food actually is a trigger for you.