7 Everyday Foods That Can Cause Painful Migraines


A migraine is a neurological condition that is usually genetic in nature and can affect people at any age, though it most commonly begins to occur during childhood.

While most people associate migraines with intense throbbing headaches, other migraine symptoms include nausea, vomiting, numbness or tingling, trouble speaking, and sensitivity to light and sound.

For people who suffer from or have a family history of migraines, these symptoms can potentially be triggered by a number of different factors; perhaps unsurprisingly, one of these potential migraine triggers is what types of food you include in your diet.

If you’re someone who struggles with migraines on a regular basis, you may want to be mindful of some of the foods on this list.

1. Coffee


Coffee, as well as too much caffeine in general, can potentially have a highly debilitating effect on your worst migraine symptoms. To make matters worse, you can also experience migraines as a result of caffeine withdrawal, meaning that you’re can just as easily experience a migraine from having not enough coffee as well!

For those of you who can’t imagine going a whole day without your cuppa joe, you should know it’s not all bad news: according to the American Migraine Foundation, caffeine can actually relieve the symptoms of migraines when ingested in the right doses.

I guess you could see this as just another example of that old adage: “everything in moderation”.

2. Alcohol


The idea that alcoholic beverages may lead to headaches probably isn’t going to come as a shock to a lot of people, especially the ones who have had first-hand experience with alcohol-induced hangovers.

What may surprise you, however, is the fact that according to the migraine information website aptly named Migraine, alcoholic drinks such as red wine and beer are believed to be common triggers among 25 percent of all people who experience migraines on a regular basis.

Additionally, nutrition specialist Atli Arnarson of Healthline notes that alcoholic beverages can trigger a migraine as quickly as within three hours of the drink’s consumption.

The reason alcohol and migraines refuse to play nice is that alcohol causes dehydration in your body, which in turn is a significant factor in causing headaches to develop.

Also, certain types of alcohol such as red wine contain a high concentration of histamine, which can also serve as a contributor to migraine symptoms.

3. Processed Meat


For at least 5 percent of people who suffer from migraines, painful and debilitating symptoms can be triggered as the result of consuming processed or cured meat products, sometimes as quickly as within minutes of consumption.

This sudden onset of migraine symptoms as the result of eating certain meats is what some researchers refer to as the “hot dog headache”. As for what causes these headaches to occur, researchers believe that one possible factor is the presence of a group of preservatives known as nitrates, which are commonly found in processed meats used to prevent the meats from spoiling and enhance flavor.

Additionally, certain types of cured and processed meat may also contain histamines, which as we said before can potentially trigger symptoms in people with a case of histamine intolerance.

4. Aged Cheese


According to studies conducted on the effects of diet-induced migraines, it was reported that somewhere between 9 to 10 percent of people living with migraines have a sensitivity to aged cheeses such as blue cheese, feta, and parmesan.

This is because aged cheeses contain a substance known as tyramine: tyramine is a compound that forms during the aging process of the food as a result of bacteria breaking down proteins and amino acids such as tyrosine. The longer a cheese has been aged, the higher concentration of tyramine it contains.

According to the National Headache Foundation, people who struggle with migraines should try to stick to a low-tyramine diet in order to reduce possible symptoms; other foods that contain lesser amounts of tyramine include wine, chocolate, processed meat, and yeast extract.

5. Chocolate


Sorry, chocoholics, but if you struggle with migraines frequently, it might be time to slow your roll on the candy bars.

According to the American Migraine Foundation, chocolate may in fact be the second most common trigger for people with migraines, coming in second place directly behind alcohol.

This is because chocolate contains caffeine, as well as other ingredients that can potentially trigger headaches, such as beta-phenylethylamine.

6. Frozen Foods


Even if you don’t personally suffer from migraines, chances are you’re probably still familiar with the concept of brain freeze. Cold or frozen foods and beverages can potentially trigger sharp stabbing pains in the head, which can only serve to further compound the painful symptoms of migraine sufferers.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, these headaches are most likely to occur as a result of eating or drinking these frigid foods too quickly, immediately after exercise, or when you’re feeling overheated.

Interestingly enough, research conducted in 2017 seems to indicate that intentionally giving yourself a brain freeze may also be a useful technique in order to lessen the effects of a migraine headache as well.

7. Salty Foods


Before you ask someone to pass the salt at the dinner table, you might want to stop and make sure you’re keeping your sodium intake in check. Salty foods, especially processed foods with added salt, can potentially trigger migraines and related symptoms in certain people.

This is because high levels of sodium consumption lead to increased blood pressure, which can trigger the effects of headaches and migraines as a result. If you suffer from migraines on a frequent basis, it can sometimes be difficult to determine the triggers behind your symptoms.

Hopefully, this list provides you with a clearer idea of some of the things that can potentially activate the symptoms of a migraine, so that you can take steps to reduce these foods and beverages from your diet, and by extension lessen the difficulties of living with migraine pains as well.

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