Food-Induced Migraines

Migraines and other headaches are another ailment that can be triggered by the foods we eat.  In some cases, migraines can actually be associated with a food intolerance.  In other instances, there are certain foods that trigger headaches.

Food categories that can trigger migraines include:

  • aged cheese and other tyramine-containing foods
  • alcohol
  • food additives
  • cold foods


Other foods that have been reported as headache triggers are:

  • peanuts, nuts, seeds
  • aspartame and other artificial sweeteners
  • caffeine
  • potato chips
  • chicken liver
  • some fresh & dried fruit
  • pizza
  • sourdough bread and other baked goods
  • smoked or dried fish
  • cultured dairy products

Tyramine is a substance that naturally occurrs in some foods as the protein of the food is broken down during the aging process.  The amount of tyramine varies depending upon the fermentation process, aging, bacteria content, and more.  People who suffer from migraines and take a MAO inhibitor medication should avoid all tyramine-containing foods (red wine, alcohol, aged cheese, processed meat) as the foods can trigger severe high blood pressure.  Other tyramine-containing foods include certain beans (fava, broad, garbanzo, pinto, lima), onions, olives, pickles, avocados, raisins, canned soups, canned/cured/processed meats, and nuts.

Alcohol: Blood flow to your brain increases when you drink alcohol.  Researchers believe that impurities in alcohol or your bodies metabolism process cause headaches (and not from drinking too much).  The most common offenders are red wine, champagne, beer, and whiskey.

Food Additives, such as nitrates, dilate blood vessels, potentially causing headaches in some people.  Food additives or preservatives are found in many processed foods on the market, especially meat products.

As a final note, you must also check medications for any of the above additives or possible triggers as they are sometimes contained in the ingredients (particularly aspartame and caffeine).

Although food is only one possible trigger to migraines, it is a good place to start.  I’ll discuss other triggers in a couple of weeks.  Come back on Wednesday as I share my Christmas miracle from last year that continues to bring me joy and comfort this Christmas.  Hint: It has to do with migraines.

Do you suffer from migraines? Is there are particular food or foods that seem to trigger your headaches?

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8 Responses to Food-Induced Migraines

  1. Jennifer says:

    Having had migraines for 40 years, I finally was able to narrow some of the triggers down to food. The worst offenders are: gluten, sugar, red dye in foods, and additives in lots of others. The sugar trigger is not just sugar, it can also be honey, agave nectar, or dried fruit. Additives include those found in flavored coffee. I’ve also been off caffeine for several years.

  2. Jennifer says:

    I have never seen this site before. Thanks so much for pointing me in this direction. I am looking forward to perusing.

  3. Pingback: Migraines & ER Visits | The Willing Cook

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