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How Your Diet Can Contribute to Migraines

Many factors can contribute to migraines, your diet being one of them. Read on to find out some of the foods that can have positive and negative impacts on your head pain if you are prone to migraines.

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

  • Aged Cheese
Problem Ingredients: Tyramine
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.

  • Chocolate
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.

  • Citrus Fruits
Problem 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.

  • Alcohol
Problem Ingredients: 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.

  • Meat
Problem Ingredients: 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

  • Fatty Fish
Beneficial 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.

  • Coffee
Beneficial Ingredients: Caffeine
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. 

  • Cherries
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.

  • Baked Potato
Beneficial Ingredients: Potassium
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.
  • Spinach
Beneficial Ingredients: 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.

Thanks for reading, and come back next time for more health news at eVitamins!

Legal Disclaimer:
eVitamins recommends that you do not rely on the information presented in this article as diagnosis for treatment to any health claim. Content and information on this site is for reference purposes and is not intended to substitute for advice given by a physician, pharmacist, or other licensed health-care professional. You should not use this information as self-diagnosis or for treating a health problem or disease. Contact your health-care provider immediately if you suspect that you have a medical problem. The information and statements in this article have not been evaluated by the US Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or health condition. eVitamins assumes no liability for inaccuracies or misstatements.
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