Table of Contents
What causes migraine?
Researchers have yet to identify exactly what causes migraines. Many believe you’re more likely to get migraines if it’s part of your family history.
In particular, many researchers believe that a possible cause of migraine pain is related to a protein called calcitonin. Gene-related peptide (CGRP). When CGRP is released from the brain, it attaches to receptors and causes neuritis that triggers a migraine attack.
How do eating habits affect migraine?
Many things can trigger a migraine attack, including what we eat and drink. According to the Migraine Research Foundation, foods that trigger migraines can only do so when combined with other triggers. But this combination, and each trigger in general, is highly individual, making research difficult.
There is no universal migraine trigger. But there are some common triggers that can cause or contribute to migraines in some people:-
Too much caffeine and caffeine withdrawal can cause migraines or headaches.
The claim about caffeine is quite contradictory as caffeine can actually help stop migraine attacks according to the American Migraine Foundation. It can also relieve headaches with occasional use.
Foods and drinks with caffeine include:
Alcohol is one of the most common products thought to trigger migraines. According to one study, more than 35% of migraine sufferers cited alcohol as one of their most common triggers.
ed wine in particular was cited as a trigger, with over 77% of participants citing alcohol as the trigger. Alcohol can cause dehydration, which is a major contributor to headaches.
According to researchers from a renowned medical association, chocolate is the second most common trigger of migraines after alcohol. They say it affects around 22% of people who have migraines.
Chocolate contains caffeine and beta-phenylethylamine, which may cause headaches in some people.
4. Foods containing (MSG) Monosodium glutamate
Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is a sodium salt of glutamic acid, which occurs naturally in our body. MSG is found in certain foods and is found in many foods as a food additive. It’s considered safe to eat, but some researchers link it to migraine attacks.
The American Migraine Foundation notes that it can trigger severe migraine attacks in 10 to 15 percent of people with migraines. Other preservatives can also be a trigger in some people.
5. Artificial sweeteners
Many processed foods contain artificial sweeteners. These are sugar alternatives that are added to foods and drinks to give them sweetness. But these sweeteners can cause migraines. Aspartame in particular is said to trigger migraine attacks.
6. Cured meats
Curned meats, including cold cuts, ham, hot dogs, and hot dogs, contain preservatives called nitrates, which preserve color and flavor. These foods can release nitric oxide into the blood, which is thought to dilate blood vessels in the brain. There is some reliable evidence that nitric oxide can cause or contribute to migraines.
7. Pickled and fermented foods
Like aged cheeses, pickled and fermented foods can contain high amounts of tyramine. These foods include:
- kombucha (which can also have alcoholic content)
- pickled okra
- pickled jalapeños
8. Frozen foods
Eating frozen foods and drinks like ice cream or slushies can trigger severe, stabbing pains in the head.
You’re most likely to experience headaches that become migraine attacks if you’re eating cold food quickly, after exercising, or when overheated.
Salty foods — especially salty processed foods that may contain harmful preservatives — may trigger migraine in some people.
Consuming high levels of sodium can increase blood pressure, causing headaches or migraine attacks.
7. Aged cheeses
Aged cheeses contain a substance called tyramine. It forms when a food’s aging causes the breakdown of proteins.
The longer the cheese has aged, the higher the tyramine content will be.
Tyramine is another chemical that has been said to trigger headaches and migraine. Common cheeses that are high in tyramine include:
- blue cheese
Treatment for migraine can involve a combination of prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medications and alternative remedies.
For occasional headache or migraine pain, you can take OTC medications like Excedrin Migraine to relieve pain. Your doctor may also prescribe triptan medications to relieve pain.
If you experience regular migraine episodes, your doctor will likely prescribe preventive medications. These may include beta-blockers, which can lower blood pressure and reduce migraine attacks.
Antidepressants are also sometimes prescribed to prevent migraine symptoms, even in those without depression.
There’s evidence that some alternative remedies can help treat migraine. These include:
Migraine episodes can be painful and interrupt your life. Fortunately, there are some lifestyle changes you can make and habits to adopt that can help you prevent them.
- eating regularly and never skipping meals
- limiting your caffeine intake
- getting plenty of sleep
- reducing the stress in your life by trying yoga, mindfulness, or meditation
- limiting the amount of time you’re looking at bright lights, or are in direct sunlight, which can both cause sensory migraine
- taking frequent “screen breaks” from television, the computer, and other screens
- trying an elimination diet to help you identify any food allergies or intolerances that may be headache triggers