You may be surprised to learn that in addition to anatomical triggers, there are many foods that you may be exposed to every day that have been shown to trigger migraines and migraine-like symptoms. It may be a good idea to experiment with exposing yourself to these types of foods to see if they put you at risk for migraines. These foods include:
- Aspartame: Aspartame is found in many “junk” foods such as sugary breakfast cereals and diet sodas. It is used as a sugar substitute because it contains fewer calories.
- Monosodium Glutamate (MSG): This product is a flavor-enhancer that is known for its presence in Chinese food, but is also commonly found in processed meat and canned soups and vegetables.
- Sulfites: Sulfites are used as a way to preserve many different types of foods, and can be found in such things as dried fruit and red wine.
- Caffeine: This is a tricky one because caffeine (found in coffee, tea, energy drinks, and other beverages) has been shown to both activate and help prevent migraines, depending on the amount and the person.
- Alcohol: Many studies have shown that there is a strong correlation between alcohol consumption and migraines.
- Tannins: Found in the skin of many fruits, such as apples and pears, tannins provide a recognizable astringent taste.
- Nitrites: Nitrites are primarily utilized as preservatives, and are found in preserved and heavily-processed meats such as beef jerky, hot dogs, and summer sausage.
- Aged Cheeses: Aged cheeses often contain tyramine, a naturally-occurring amino acid that has been linked to migraines.
- Leftovers: Tyramine is contained in many foods and tyramine production increases over time, especially if food is left unrefrigerated for many hours. Therefore, make sure you always place leftover food promptly into the refrigerator!
- Dehydration: Lack of proper fluids leads to dehydration, which studies have linked to migraine symptoms.
Though it can be helpful to experiment with these types of environmental triggers, migraine sufferers should only do this with the proper medical guidance. Please take note that elimination of environmental triggers does not necessarily mean that migraine symptoms will cease entirely, though it is certainly an important step in the recovery process.
Please visit The Migraine Institute to learn more about migraine treatment options and strategies.