Migraines are debilitating for many sufferers. While the exact causes of migraines remain uncertain, certain foods and beverages have a connection to triggering the onset of these painful headaches. Here are some of the most common migraine-triggering foods to be aware of and avoid for a migraine-free life.
Caffeine is a common cause when it comes to migraine triggers. Caffeine can alleviate headaches by narrowing blood vessels and reducing inflammation, which is why it’s an ingredient in over-the-counter migraine medications like Excedrin®. However, consuming too much of this migraine-triggering food or having sudden withdrawal from it may trigger migraines as well.
Caffeine is a diuretic that causes dehydration in large amounts and eventually leads to blood vessels constricting in parts of the body, such as the brain, resulting in the intense pressure of a migraine. Regularly consuming caffeinated beverages, such as coffee, tea, and energy drinks, may sensitize you to the effects of caffeine and put you at a higher risk of suffering a migraine.
Aged cheeses such as blue cheese, cheddar, and parmesan contain a naturally-occurring compound called tyramine. Tyramine forms as proteins break down over time, making it more abundant in aged products.
Studies show that tyramine may trigger migraines in some individuals. While not everyone will react negatively to tyramine, migraine sufferers should consider their cheese consumption and opt for fresher, less-aged cheeses when possible.
Alcohol, especially red wine, is a well-known and documented migraine trigger. The presence of histamines, sulfites, and tannins in red wine seems to be the main culprit. Histamines cause blood vessels to dilate, whereas sulfites cause inflammation and constriction of the blood vessels—both implicated in triggering migraines.
The best strategy is to monitor your alcohol consumption and pay attention to the types of alcoholic beverages you consume. Additionally, staying hydrated and consuming alcohol in moderation reduces the likelihood of a migraine episode.
While this list isn’t exhaustive, it highlights the foods migraine sufferers should avoid. Additionally, consider effective ways to treat migraine symptoms, such as IV therapy that delivers a mixture of vitamins and minerals to help you feel stronger and counteract the effects. Keep in mind that everyone is different, and personal migraine triggers may vary.