Food and Migraine: What Foods To Avoid?
Certain foods contain compounds that may trigger migraines, while others can aid their prevention. Familiarize yourself with which foods can cause headaches and the appropriate diet to avoid them.
Migraine is more common in women than men. The exact cause of migraine is still unknown, but some support the theory that it is neurological. This theory suggests that the body responds with continuous pain when the brain is hypersensitive to certain stimuli. Migraine attacks can last up to 72 hours.
Patients with migraines have hyperexcitable brains that can react to various stimuli. These stimuli include sudden estrogen drops during menstruation, changes in sleep patterns such as oversleeping on weekends, and sudden stress.
External factors such as weather, alcohol, or bright lights can trigger intense headaches. Diet may also play a role in the origin of headaches, and avoiding certain foods may help prevent them – as long as other factors are controlled.
Foods and drinks that could trigger migraines
The food can be a trigger if it causes a migraine within three hours of consumption.
Consuming certain foods can trigger clinical and electrical events in the brain that result in headaches, sensitivity to light and sounds, or vomiting.
However, individual reactions to the same food can vary, even for the same person in different circumstances. As a result, there is no one-size-fits-all diet for treating these symptoms in all patients.
The American Headache Society has identified common foods that can trigger migraines. These foods include a variety of factors:
- Cheese rich in tyramine can accelerate migraines, especially aged varieties like cured or cheddar cheese. This includes blue, Swiss, mozzarella, Parmesan, feta, and brie.
- Experts suggest that chocolate may not cause migraines, but craving high-calorie foods may be a warning sign of an impending migraine.
- Citrus fruits contain high levels of histamine, an enzyme that can trigger headaches. These fruits include lemon, tangerine, orange, and grapefruit.
- Fish is highly regarded, particularly when smoked, pickled, or marinated.
- Caffeine can assist in controlling migraines when taken in small amounts at the start of an episode. However, excessive intake can have adverse effects. Overconsumption can impact sleep patterns and exacerbate migraines. It is recommended to consume caffeine in moderation, with no more than one cup per day.
- Tomatoes contain biogenic amines, histamine, tyramine, serotonin, and phenylethylamine linked to headaches. As a result, consuming tomatoes can trigger migraines.
- The consumption of onions can increase the risk of migraines due to the presence of histamines. These histamines cause the arteries to dilate, resulting in the onset of migraines.
- Nuts contain unsaturated fats that are good for the heart. However, they can also cause migraines due to the presence of tyramine. This substance causes blood vessels in the brain to dilate.
- Nitrates are present in certain products, including processed meats like bacon, salami, and sausages. These substances can inflame blood vessels, so it’s important to be aware of their presence in your diet.
- It is recommended to avoid alcohol, particularly red wine. This is especially important if it coincides with other predisposing factors, such as menstruation or stress.
7 Advice and healthy habits to prevent migraine
To control headaches, there are habits related to our food intake that can be helpful. These tips can assist in preventing migraines. It is suggested to take note of these tips to help manage the frequency of headaches:
1. Bet on magnesium
Experts do not agree on the specific nutrients or foods that can prevent migraines. However, they commonly recommend maintaining good magnesium levels, which can be obtained from almonds, dried figs, and green leafy vegetables. Another recommended nutrient is coenzyme Q10, an antioxidant in oily fish, flax seeds, and nuts.
2. Rest well
Want better sleep and fewer migraines? Try melatonin! This hormone helps establish a good rest cycle and reduces the risk of migraines. You can get it from your diet by eating many plant-based foods, like olives, tomatoes, barley, nuts, and rice. So indulge in these tasty treats for a well-rested and pain-free life!
3. Food diary
If you get headaches that interfere with your daily life, it’s worth looking at the foods you ate before the attack. You might find a connection and prevent future episodes. Remember that food that causes a headache one day might not cause it another day. So, don’t get discouraged, and keep trying to identify triggers.
4. No restrictions
There isn’t enough scientific evidence to prove that food causes migraines. So, there’s no need to follow a restrictive diet.
5. Balance diet
Experts suggest sticking to regular eating habits, like the Mediterranean diet. This means eating fresh foods, avoiding processed ones, and not overdoing the carbs. Prioritize plant proteins over animal ones, and eat plenty of fruits and veggies. Staying hydrated is also important. These practices may be more helpful in managing migraines than any strict diet or food restrictions.
6. No fasting
Skipping meals or fasting won’t help you avoid headaches. It can make them worse. Try to stick to a regular meal schedule. It’s better to eat small portions of food often, like 5 or 6 meals throughout the day.
7. Control your weight
It’s important to take care of ourselves and stay healthy. to be active to prevent becoming overweight or obese, which can make headaches chronic.