9 Common Trigger Foods for Migraines

For those who have never had the unfortunate luck of experiencing a migraine, it can be hard to understand how they affect people. They are a type of recurring headache, one that causes moderate to severe pain. Migraine sufferers describe the pain as pulsing or throbbing and can experience nausea and weakness during an episode. Migraines can be triggered by certain foods and drinks, and patients are advised to avoid them.

The following foods and drinks are known as common trigger foods for migraines:

1. Alcohol
One of the common trigger foods for migraines is alcohol. It is believed that nearly 25% of migraine attacks occur after a person consumes alcohol, and beer and red wine are common triggers. Alcohol causes dehydration and affects the blood vessels, which could be reasons that trigger an attack.

2. Caffeine
Caffeine, found in coffee and tea, can narrow blood vessels and is believed to interact with nerve cells to reduce pain. In some people, however, this can trigger the symptoms of a migraine. Caffeine has different effects on different people. It causes some people to experience migraines, while there are others who experience migraines if they don’t consume caffeine.

3. MSG
MSG or Monosodium Glutamate is a food additive, typically found in Chinese and other processed foods. MSG is believed to cause constriction of blood vessels, leading to a migraine attack. MSG and other preservatives are common trigger foods for migraines and should be left out of the diet.

4. Cheese
Aged cheese contains tyramine, which can trigger the symptoms of migraine. Feta cheese, parmesan cheese, and blue cheese, when aged, have a high content of tyramine and can be trigger foods for migraines.

5. Processed meats
Meat that is cured or processed, like bacon or ham, contains nitrates, which is a preservative added to the meat to preserve its flavor. Nitrates release nitric oxide, which is believed to cause constriction of blood vessels in the brain, leading to migraine attacks.

6. Chocolate
A surprising statistic is that chocolate is the second most common trigger food for migraines (alcohol being the first). Chocolate contains caffeine, and it also has a substance called beta phenylethylamine that can trigger headaches, causing a migraine attack.

However, it is seen that some people crave chocolate when they are experiencing a migraine attack, as the caffeine can alleviate the symptoms. Trigger foods work differently, and it is important to know how a particular food affects you before you decide to stop eating it.

7. Chilis
Spicy food that contains chili peppers is believed to affect certain pain receptors in the brain, triggering off migraine symptoms. This means that the trigger foods for migraines that need to be avoided include hot and spicy food.

8. Frozen foods
Frozen foods like ice cream and other desserts cause sudden and severe headaches in some people. These headaches are generally observed when you quickly gulp down frozen food after being overheated, like after exercising or being out in the sun.

9. Artificial sweeteners
Those who wish to reduce blood sugar levels use artificial sweeteners like aspartame in their food, and it is believed that aspartame interacts with serotonin and causes migraines.