Migraine Triggers?

(A) Migraine Triggers And Rebound Headache

Sometimes, the body’s response to the overuse of a migraine trigger can be more damaging than the migraine itself. If you are taking medications or performing activities that cause rebound headaches, you should stop immediately. These are never good for your overall health and migraines.

Around 40% of people with frequent migraines say that some foods may trigger their headaches. Common food triggers include alcohol, especially red wine; chocolate; aspartame (NutraSweet®); monosodium glutamate (MSG); aged cheeses; pickled products; soy sauce; fermented or marinated foods; sour cream; avocado; caffeinated beverages like coffee, tea, and cola drinks; citrus fruits; dried fruits; nuts, especially peanuts and peanut butter; onions, especially caramelized onions; dairy products, including milk and yogurt.

Aspartame causes more headaches in persons with migraine than placebo. “Of the 49 subjects who experienced headaches during the aspartame phase of the study, 41 reacted with classic migrainous headaches.”

This probably happens because it contains phenylalanine which is a well-documented migraine trigger. MSG is also another reason for causing headaches. Monosodium glutamate can cause an MSG headache, which may begin up to half an hour after eating Chinese food. This headache is usually severe enough to interfere with daily activities or sleep.

Aged cheeses are high in tyramine, a chemical that triggers the release of endorphins and can cause a rebound headache. Tyramine may be found in aged cheeses, especially cheddar; beer; red wine; smoked fish, meat, and other protein-rich foods such as chicken livers and salami, so it is important to avoid these products while you are recovering from a migraine.

Some other food triggers for migraines have been identified, which include Eggplants, potatoes, nuts.

(B) Caffeine And Migraine:

A common beverage linked with headaches is caffeine. Many people drink coffee throughout the day because they enjoy its stimulating effects. However, many caffeine drinkers notice that their daily intake of the drug leaves them with an unwelcome reaction: headaches.

Caffeine is the most frequently encountered drug in the world after alcohol, nicotine, and aspirin. Caffeine-related headache has been proposed as a clinical entity that affects patients who are heavy consumers of caffeine beverages; however, it may also occur in low to moderate amounts.

Coffee intake may be associated with exacerbation or onset of migraine attacks given that some patients seem to be more sensitive than others to the effects of caffeine ingestion. Caffeinated cola drinks have also been reported as triggers, but there is less evidence for this. Generally stopping the intake of caffeinated products can help alleviate them faster.

(C) Alcohol And Migraine:

Alcoholic beverages like red wine, beer, and spirits can irritate certain nerves in the head and neck, which could trigger a headache. Drinking alcohol during a headache may make it worse because of its dehydrating effect; drinking also tends to remove inhibitions and alter mood, both of which may bring about the onset of a migraine attack.

Red wine is one such drink that can trigger headaches in some individuals. Also, called red wines by their color (ie: red wines), these include pinot noir, cabernet sauvignon, malbec, and merlot.

(D) Artificial Sweeteners And Migraines:

Aspartame, an artificial sweetener found in diet sodas contains phenylalanine as one among its ingredients which is a well-documented migraine trigger.

“Of the 49 subjects who experienced headaches during the aspartame phase of the study, 41 reacted with classic migrainous headaches.” “A dietary survey showed that aspartame ingestion among persons suffering from migraine was higher than in controls.” This happens because aspartame is a neurotoxin and can damage the nervous system.

Sucralose is an artificial sweetener as well as a common ingredient in diet soda drinks. Ingesting sucralose has been found to affect gut bacteria, which may have implications for several different obesity-related diseases such as metabolic syndrome. Many people report having a reaction to it including migraines.

(E) Other Food Triggers For Migraines:

There are some other food triggers for migraines too, which include foods containing nitrates, chocolate, MSG, aged cheeses.

Nitrates are chemicals used to cure meats like hot dogs and bacon. Some people report having a reaction to it including migraines.

Chocolate is another common migraine trigger that is well known among sufferers. Chocolate is made from cocoa beans, sugar, milk solids, and vanilla; all these components can cause problems in some individuals. According to the American Headache Society (AHS), up to 40 % of people with migraine or cluster headaches reported chocolate as a headache trigger.

Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is a flavor enhancer used to improve the taste of processed food. It is found in many canned or packaged foods, including soups, chips, frozen meals, and condiments. Some people report having a reaction to it including migraines.

Aged cheese contains tyramine which can trigger migraine attacks for some individuals. Tyramine is naturally produced during the aging process of some cheeses like cheddar, Swiss, Parmesan, and provolone. Other cheeses like goat cheese may not contain as much tyramine as aged cheese can have. Foods containing tyramine should be avoided if you suffer from migraines triggered by hormone fluctuations.

(F) Alcohol And Coffee:

Alcohol and coffee are both known as migraine triggers. Consumption of their withdrawal or abstinence relieves headaches.

As well, caffeine can trigger migraines. Consuming small amounts does not cause headaches, but large amounts may do so. Caffeine is a central nervous stimulant that causes hypertension and tachycardia. It has been found that caffeine causes the release of catecholamines which helps in exerting its action on neurotransmitter receptor sites especially those for serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine.

(G) Sugar And Migraines:

Many people experience migraines after eating foods high in sugar such as candy bars, cake, doughnuts, ice cream, and syrup.

According to the American Headache Society (AHS), “The relationship is so well recognized that most headache experts consider a dietary trigger to be a significant factor only if patients note a consistent pattern of headaches after eating sugar-rich foods.”

In addition to natural sugars from the carbohydrates in the food, there are also refined sugars. These include brown sugar, confectioner’s sugar, granulated sugar, raw sugar, and white sugar. Food with added sugars contains a high amount of fructose corn syrup which is known as a potent trigger for migraine.


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