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What to Avoid if You Get Migraines

September 22, 2019

 

Most people know that migraine headaches can be terrible, but for some reason there still seems to be such a stigma around them.  “Becky called in sick because she has a headache?... Really?” But if you suffer from migraines or know someone who does, you know that they are debilitating!  The pain, vision problems, nausea, can leave people curled up in the fetal position praying for the sweet release of death - especially if they stick around for hours or even days.

 

Migraines affect about 15% of adults, so they’re fairly common. And, while the exact cause is not known, there are lots of known triggers.  You may have noticed certain foods, and drinks trigger your migraines. Sometimes the migraine comes on within an hour after eating or drinking a certain food. Other times it may happen several hours, up to a day later. Figuring out your triggers and avoiding them can be life changing!

 

One of the main ways these foods and drinks trigger migraines is by their action on the blood vessels in the brain. When the brain's blood vessels constrict and then dilate (widen), this seems to lead to a migraine. Many of the foods I'm listing below affect the constriction and dilation of blood vessels.

 

If you or someone you care about suffers from migraines, this post is for you!  Share this post, as you have no idea the impact it can have on someone’s life, when they suffer from migraines. Avoiding these can be a great tool to reduce their occurrence.  You may be sensitive to one, or many of these foods/drinks. It is not a one size fits all.  You can find out by going through an elimination period and see if avoidance helps you.

 

You can do this by eliminating all of them at once for 3 weeks and adding them back one at a time, every couple of days to see if you can find the ones that are triggers for you.  

 

FOODS TO AVOID IF YOU GET MIGRAINES

 

  1. Hard cheese like cheddar and Swiss; this is because they contain "tyramine" which is from an amino acid in the protein found in cheese. Other foods high in tyramine include those that are aged, cured, dried, smoked or pickled. These include sauerkraut and tofu.

 

  1. Cured or processed meats. Things like hot dogs, lunch meats, and bacon are in this category; this is because of their nitrates and nitrites that can dilate those blood vessels in the brain. Even if these are not a trigger for you, it's best to eliminate them from your diet because of other health issues they're associated with like colon cancer.  So, NO my keto friends. Bacon is not an acceptable form of fat/protein no matter what diet you are on.  

 

  1. Chocolate (I am so sorry, I know this is hard to hear). The evidence is conflicting, as some studies show a link and others don’t. You may or may not be sensitive to chocolate's effects on the brain; so you have to eliminate it to find out.

 

  1. Artificial flavours like monosodium glutamate (MSG). It is often found in Chinese food. So double check that the kitchen before you order the kung pow chicken.  

 

DRINKS TO AVOID IF YOU GET MIGRAINES

 

  1. Alcohol. Red wine and beer seem to be the most common culprits. We're not sure why, but it may be red wine's compounds such as histamine, sulfites, or flavonoids.

 

  1. Ice and ice-cold water.  Try not to eat or drink things that are too cold.  Room temperature water is better for your digestive system anyways.  

 

  1. Artificial sweeteners like Aspartame. It is in diet sodas and other processed foods to make them taste sweet without adding sugar. 

 

CONCLUSION

 

There are many common food/drink triggers for migraines. Maybe one, or more of these trigger migraines for you. The best way to know is by eliminating them from your diet for a few weeks and see if your symptoms lessen. 

 

The list includes hard cheeses, processed meats, chocolate, alcohol, ice water, and artificial flavours and sweeteners.

 

Do any of these trigger migraines for you (or someone you care about)?  Do you have a different food that triggers migraines for you? I want to know your common triggers.  Post it on the FB page and maybe it will help someone else find theirs! 

 

 

MIGRAINE-CALMING FRESH HERBAL TEA

Serves 1

 

5 washed mint leaves (or a tea bag)

2 cups of boiled water

 

Instructions

Steep mint leaves (or tea bag) for 5-10 minutes.

 

Serve & enjoy!

 

Tip: Let the tea cool down a bit before drinking it.

 

References:

 

https://authoritynutrition.com/9-common-migraine-triggers/

 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27714637

 

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/elimination-diet-infographic

 

https://examine.com/nutrition/scientists-just-found-that-red-meat-causes-cancer--or-did-they/

 

https://examine.com/nutrition/does-aspartame-cause-headaches/

 

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