In spite of the fact that migraines are considered a neurological disorder, often inherited, there are many external factors that can play a role in your chances of experiencing them. If you are prone to migraines, you've probably identified certain elements that can acts as triggers for setting them off, like bright lights and loud noises, for example. However, there are many other aspects of your lifestyle that can affect the severity and frequency of your migraines, your diet being one such factor. Certain foods can either benefit your migraines, and even help to improve them, or do the opposite by making them worse. Although severe migraines often require medication and other forms of treatment, making little changes may have a positive effect as well. Here are several changes you may want to consider implementing if you are concerned about setting off a migraine through your diet.
Foods and Drinks That Can Trigger Migraines
The amino acid
tyramine is found in several types of aged cheeses—like Swiss, Parmesan and cheddar—and it is a prominent migraine-triggering ingredient, known for reducing serotonin levels and negatively impacting blood vessel dilation
in the brain.
Problem Ingredients: Tyramine, Phenylethylamine
In addition to the problems caused by tyramine, the amine phenylethylamine can constrict blood vessels and then dilate them, potentially causing a migraine.
Problem IngredientsProblem Ingredients
: Tyramine, Histamines, Synephrine
While histamines play a major role in allergies
, they are also involved with digestion and can be found in dietary sources, possibly causing migraines. Synephrine is also a triggering ingredient found in citrus fruits like oranges, lemons and grapefruit.
: Tyramine, Sulfites, Histamines
Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol, particularly red wine, is another significant contributor to migraines. Alcohol can dehydrate your body and increase blood flow to your brain, which can cause pain
: Tyramine, Nitrates
Hot dogs, salami, pepperoni and other packaged meats or lunch meats often contain nitrates, as well as tyramine, which are preservatives that can contribute to causing migraines.
Foods and Drinks That Can Improve Migraines
Beneficial IngredientsBeneficial Ingredients
: B Vitamins, Folic Acid, Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Fish like salmon, mackerel and herring may provide anti-inflammatory support with the omega-3s EPA and DHA. In addition, research suggests that the B vitamins
and folic acid
found in these fish may play a part in lowering the number of migraines
that you suffer from.
While too much caffeine can make migraines worse, a moderate amount of caffeine can help shrink swollen blood vessels
in your brain and possibly reduce pain. Beneficial Ingredients
: Anthocyanins, Bioflavonoids
The phytonutrients in cherries can contribute antioxidant effects, reduce inflammation and block the production of enzymes
that are associated with pain. Additionally, cherries may help reduce nitric oxide, which may stimulate nerve pathways
in your brain and increase pain.
The mineral and electrolyte potassium is necessary for many body functions, and being deficient in this nutrient can mean you're dehydrated and make migraines worse. A medium baked potato with its skin can provide more than one-quarter of the daily recommended intake of potassium
: Magnesium, Riboflavin
The riboflavin found in spinach may be able to help reduce the amount
of migraines you experience if you are prone to them. Additionally, since migraine sufferers often have lower levels of magnesium
than those who don't experience migraines, the magnesium content in spinach may be beneficial in helping to lower migraine frequency
Severe migraines can be a sign of a serious neurological condition or underlying health problem, so it's important to inform your doctor if you are experiencing them. Making changes to your diet is just one of the factors to take into account when attempting to relieve your migraines, and it is unlikely to totally alleviate them. Also, the aforementioned dietary migraine triggers will not contribute to migraines 100 percent of the time, but they are more likely to cause problems when another trigger is present simultaneously.
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