Some migraine suffers get relief from caffeine (such as myself) but for others, it is a trigger. Caffeine has an effect on our blood vessels which potentially impacts our blood flow to the brain. And migraine is a brain disease. Be aware that chocolate also contains caffeine.
Typically, it’s dark alcohol such as red wine, beer and certain spirits that are known migraine triggers. Often, it is not the alcohol in itself that gives you a migraine but the presence of substances such as tyramine, histamine and sulphites. About a third of migraine sufferers find that alcohol can trigger their attacks. It might help to drink water simultaneously as you get dehydrated while consuming alcohol.
Certain types of cheese can also produce a migraine. Aged cheese such as blue cheese, cheddar, parmesan, brie and feta contain high levels of tyramine. Tyramine is a natural chemical that narrows our blood vessels the same way that caffeine does. The longer the cheese has aged, the higher the tyramine content will be.
Aspartame is an artificial sweetener and is believed to reduce the brain’s serotonin and dopamine levels. Medication that increase the brain’s dopamine levels have proven effective in easing a migraine which is why it makes sense that Aspartame’s effect of decreasing the dopamine levels can result in a migraine. Aspartame is present in a tremendous amount of foods such as diet sodas, sugar-free gum, candy, and other sugar free products.
5. Citrus fruits
Citrus fruits such as oranges, lemons, and limes dilate blood vessels in the brain which may trigger a migraine. Citrus fruits is also high-acid foods that are believed to be migraine triggers.
How to identify migraine triggers in foods
In order to identify your migraine triggers, your approach needs to be systematic. To pinpoint triggers is time consuming and can be overwhelming so make sure you have the time and energy for it.
You can either establish an overview of everything you eat in a day and the foods’ potential triggers. If you develop a migraine, then exclude one of the foods from your diet. This approach is a process of elimination – trial and error – but in a matter of roughly 2 weeks, it has given you an indication of your triggers.
A different way of mapping your triggers is to only eat migraine-friendly food for 2 weeks. Migraine-friendly food is:
- Magnesium-rich foods such as leafy greens, nuts, beans and pumpkin seeds
- Omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon, mackerel, chia seeds, walnuts, soybeans
- High fat, low carb foods such as meats, eggs, seafood, butter, nuts and seeds
After 2 weeks, you start introducing foods that are common migraine triggers. When a migraine occurs, you’ll quickly be able to identify the trigger.
Stay tuned for more tips and information on managing migraines effectively!