My sister has suffered with migraines for most of her life. It is such a frustrating and at times, debilitating condition. Most people have certain migraine triggers, that if known, can be avoided and help decrease the frequency of headaches. However, trying to identify your migraine triggers can feel like finding a needle in a hay stack! Migraines are multi-factorial; it will rarely be just one trigger. We do know that something you are eating could be contributing, and the culprits are sneaky.
Here are some foods known to trigger migraines:
#1 Tyramine or phenylethylamine, amino acids (which are proteins) found in chocolate, aged cheeses (cheddar, blu, Bre, and hard moldy cheeses), soy, nuts, citrus fruits, and vinegar (red and balsalmic). Also, watch out for happy hour! Alcohol contains Tyramine in high quantities. Red wine, sherry, and beer contain the highest levels.
#2 Buffets and Leftovers
Tyramine increases in foods over time. Therefore, the longer a food is left out or improperly stored, the higher the Tyramine content. If you need to eat left overs or store your lunch, make sure to use air tight containers.
Nitrates are used to preserve foods but can be a fast migraine trigger for some. You will find nitrates in hotdogs, deli meat, sausages, and other cured foods. You can purchase nitrite free products or just avoid these foods all together.
These can be found in dried fruit and wine. Sulfites are used to preserve food so any packaged food needs an ingredient list check.
Monosodium glutamate (MSG), yeast extract, hydrolyzed or autolyzed yeast, hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP), hydrolyzed plant protein (HPP), sodium caseinate, and kombu extract (often used in Japanese foods).
#8 Aspartame (aka Equal)
This is an artificial sweetener added to beverages and foods which can trigger migraines. The ingredient list on the nutrition label will list it. This is a sneaky trigger you may not even realize you are consuming.
For additional food and disease related articles, check out Joy Bauer's Food Cures.
Nutrition from the dietitian
Blog of Abrea Nutrition.