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Pain – What are the Common Foods that Can Start Migraine Attacks?


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Migraine headaches do not just drop out of the sky on some poor person. If you are suffering from migraine headaches, there are probably physical causes behind your condition, and there are steps you can take avoid the frequent recurrence of the headaches. Some of the food that you are eating may in fact be the “trigger” that sets off your migraine attack, and it is helpful to know which common foods are known to start migraine headaches.

Before I go into a discussion about the kinds of foods that often cause migraine headaches, it is important to understand that food alone is not the only factor associated with migraine attacks. Other contributors include stress, hormones, emotional factors and even some medications. In addition, some foods that trigger migraines in one person, may not affect another person. That said let’s take a look at the commonest kinds of food associated with the onset of migraine attacks.

The foods which can cause difficulty include the following:

  • peanuts and peanut butter
  • caffeine in all products, not just coffee
  • dairy products
  • yeast
  • some beans (which includes peanut), as well as broad, lima, Italian, lentil, soy, peas
  • avocados
  • dried meats
  • sauerkraut
  • pickled herrings
  • canned soups and packet soup mixes
  • chicken livers
  • ripe banana
  • soy products as well as the bean itself
  • sodium nitrate, which is used to preserve hot dogs, bacon and cured meats
  • the preservative benzoic acid and its associated compounds
  • MSG, common name for monosodium glutamate, a flavor enhancer which is now in used in almost all processed foods
  • nuts
  • sourdough breads
  • cheeses which have been aged
  • red wines, beer, champagne, vermouth
  • chocolate
  • anchovies

    If the list above seems depressingly long, the good news is that most of the items in this list come from highly processed and manufactured food products. These foods aren't too difficult to identify, test, and eliminate from your diet. You just have to pay attention when shopping, when preparing food and when sitting down to take your meal.

    Hold the Cheese Please!

    If you are a cheese lover, and you also are susceptible to migraines, then you have to pay attention to what kinds of cheese you eat. Aged cheeses are high in tyramine, a substance that forms during the breakdown of protein. The longer cheese ages, the greater the tyramine content becomes. If you sensitive to tyramine then these are the cheeses that you should avoid:

  • Blue cheeses
  • Brie
  • Cheddar
  • Stilton
  • Feta
  • Gorgonzola
  • Mozzarella
  • Muenster
  • Parmesan
  • Swiss
  • Processed cheese

    Cheese is not the only food that has high tyramine levels. Other foods high in tyramine include processed meats, pickles, onions, olives, certain types of beans, raisins, nuts, avocados, canned soups, and red wine.

    Doctors concede it can be difficult to avoid all of these foods. Nestor Galvez-Jimenez, MD, a neurologist with The Cleveland Clinic in Florida, says some of his tyramine-sensitive patients find it difficult to avoid foods that are on the “stop list, ” especially wine.

    "They want to drink wine even if they know it will give them a headache. In that case, I recommend a preventive dose of medication before dinner. " He adds that patients should discuss this idea with their doctors before trying it.

    Avoid Additives

    Whenever you buy processed foods it is important to read the labels carefully because several food additives, such as nitrites, food colorings and artificial sweeteners, are also common headache triggers. Doctors are not 100% sure why these additives can trigger migraines but suspect that they increase the flow of blood to the brain and bring about changes in blood vessels.

    Unlike other migraines which are triggered by a food substance and are felt on one side of the head, headaches induced by additives or other substances are usually sensed on both sides of the head. In addition, additive-triggered migraines usually occur within a specific time after taking the additive and they disappear when the additive is eliminated or within a specific time thereafter.

    Monosodium glutamate-induced headaches, sometimes known as Chinese restaurant syndrome, occur within an hour after ingestion of MSG and can cause at least two of the following symptoms:

  • Pressure in the chest or face
  • Burning sensation in the chest, neck, or shoulders
  • Dizziness
  • Abdominal discomfort

    MSG is not only found in Chinese food but is used as a flavor enhancer in a wide variety of snacks and other manufactured foods, so once again it is important to read the labels carefully when shopping for your household groceries or even when grabbing a quick snack.

    As I mentioned in the beginning, the ingestion of specific foods is not the only cause of migraine attacks, and the foods that trigger these attacks vary from person to person. However, if you are suffering from frequent migraine headaches then it makes sense to consult your physician and to do your best to eliminate the foods that may be contributing to your discomfort. Click here. . .

    Migraine Headaches

    Ray Attebery is the Managing Director for Daily Health Updates, a breaking health news national service for TV and Radio broadcast stations in the United States and also President for The Centre for Pain Relief in New York City.

    Centre for Pain Relief

    The Centre for Pain Relief
    for Headache pain relief

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