• 17 DEC 15
    • 0

    Migraine Food Triggers

    Migraines affect an estimated 12-15% of Australians, so if you’ve never had one, the odds are you know someone who has. If you do suffer from migraines, you’ll be thrilled to learn that there are a few simple dietary changes you can make to reduce   the frequency and severity of your attacks. Although stress is the most common migraine trigger, as many as a third of migraines are connected to diet, perhaps more. In a study, migraine patients were given a one hour session with a dietary counselor regarding triggers and reading labels. These patients reported eating fewer triggering foods and a correlated decrease in the frequency of their migraines.

    So what are the most common triggering foods?  Every migraine sufferer has different triggers, but the most common food triggers are:

    Tyramine and Phenylethylamine

    These amino acids are found in chocolate, aged cheeses (such as cheddar), fermented cheeses (such as bleu), soy foods, some nuts, citrus fruits, and many vinegars (particularly red and balsamic).  Be especially careful with leftovers, as tyramine rises over time, especially when food is not stored properly.


    Depending on what you drink, alcohol can be a migraine nightmare.  Any type of alcohol can cause you to become dehydrated, which is a common migraine trigger by itself.  Many types of alcohol, such as beer and red wine, are high in tyramine.  If you want to drink, steer clear of those drinks that are high in tyramine and alternate alcohol with water, seltzer, or other clear fluid.


    Heavily processed, smoked, pickled, or canned meats, such as jerky, deli meat, bacon, sausage, pepperoni, and hot dogs are all high in nitrites.  Nitrites are used as a preservative and to add flavor.  If you enjoy these foods, check labels for nitrite free versions, and avoid them when eating out.


    Tannins are plant compounds found in tea, red apples (as well as juice and cider made from red apples), and red wine.  Tannins give these foods an astringent, or somewhat dry, taste.


    Sulfites are another common preservative, often found in dried fruits, wines, and processed foods.  If you’ve had trouble identifying whether foods may be triggering your migraines, try checking labels and avoiding foods containing sulfites.

    Other common additives

    Other food additives, including MSG (monosodium glutamate), yeast and yeast extract, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, sodium caseinate, and kombu extract (most often found in Japanese foods) can all increase your chances of suffering a migraine.


    Aspartame is a sweetener often found in diet foods, usually under the name Nutrasweet or Equal, is a common migraine trigger.


    The relationship between caffeine and migraines is a complicated one.  Some people find it to be a major trigger, while others experience a migraine without it.  Caffeine is also found in many over the counter migraine medications because it can help stop, or reduce the severity of, a migraine that it just getting started.


    According to a study conducted at the University of California, migraine sufferers who reduced the fat in their diets to no more than 20g/day suffered fewer migraines than they had previously.

    Preventing migraines with diet isn’t just about avoiding foods, however.  A study conducted in Iran found that supplementing with vitamin D may help reduce the frequency of migraines.  It is unclear exactly how vitamin D helps reduce the number of headaches a sufferer experiences, but vitamin D increases absorption of magnesium, which has also been shown to reduce headaches in migraine sufferers.

    Migraines are a complicated condition and diet is just one factor.  If you suffer from migraines, family chiropractic may be able to help.  For more information on migraine triggers, how to avoid them, and how to manage them when they strike, call Eastland Chiropractic on 03 9095 7990 to schedule an appointment with one of our chiropractors to help you determine your triggers.

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