Migraine pain was interrupting Kelly’s workday again. One side of her head was pounding, and a sense of nausea was building. Wincing her way out the door into her car, she couldn’t wait to hole up in her bedroom.
Kelly remembered that when she had recently been on vacation, she had for some reason not had any head pain at all. She wondered if it might make sense to discuss the migraine-free trip and adjust her eating habits with a professional.
Writing about this story in Today’s Dietitian, Karen Appold notes that Kelly was correct that what she was eating was contributing to her condition: the fresh produce and meat she ate on vacation allowed her to avoid the food triggers of the neurological disease.
What triggers migraine headaches?
Many different types of food and beverage can trigger a migraine attack.
“For instance, many foods precipitate neurovascular and neurochemical effects in susceptible individuals,” explains Appold, “either through the direct effect of endogenous or artificial chemicals or by causing a release of immune mediators such as inflammatory cytokines.”
One endogenous chemical (those originating within an organism, tissue, or cell – in this case food) is tyramine. Tyramine occurs in such items as lunchmeat; moldy cheeses such as brie and camembert; and certain legumes such as fava beans. It is generated during the aging process of items that are high in protein.
Along with those naturally occurring chemicals, synthetic nitrates – found in bacon, beef jerky, lunchmeat, etc. – are also frequently associated with migraine pain. Monosodium glutamate (MSG) serves as a trigger too.
No company will advertise the inclusion of either of those additives, so if you have not yet started reading the ingredient lists on your food packaging, now is a good time to start. You may find that information is the best way to stop your head pain. In the case of MSG, Google “processed free glutamic acid” or visit truthinlabeling.org for a list of ingredients that contain the MSG compound – such as whey protein, soy protein, hydrolyzed protein, and yeast extract.
Methods to fight back against migraine
One tactic that can be incredibly helpful to determine exactly what foods might be triggering your migraine headaches is a food/headache diary, in which you carefully log the times when you eat anything or experience the onset of pain. Many people also find that elimination diets are helpful.
Food is, of course, just one element of migraine headaches. If you are suffering, we offer a treatment system that integrates an FDA-approved nasal applicator and biomechanical therapies for immediate and long-term relief: MiRx Protocol.