The Painful World of Migraines! Do You Know Your Triggers?
Migraine headaches can be terrible. The pain, vision problems (including aura), nausea, etc. can be debilitating; especially if they stick around for hours or even days.
Migraines affect about 15% of adults, so they’re unfortunately quite common. And, while the exact cause is not always identifiable, there are lots of foods and drinks that are known to be common triggers. Sometimes the migraine comes on within an hour of consuming a common food or drink trigger whereas other times it may be several hours or even a day later before the migraine commences.
One factor that has been evidenced in causing the onset of migraines is the constriction and dilation of blood vessels in the brain. If a food or drink triggers the constriction and/or dilation movement then it has a high probability of being a migraine trigger as well. I am going to go over some of the most common food and drink triggers below.
Remember, not everyone will react in the same way to the same triggers however if in doubt, it might be best to try and avoid as many of these as possible and see if you notice a reduction in your migraine regularity.
If you think you might struggle in giving up some of these common migraine trigger foods/drinks, I would recommend a short-term detox. Once you start to notice your natural energy levels increasing as your body weans off of these troublesome foods, you will be more likely to stick to your new eating habits long-term.
The first food that commonly triggers migraines is cheese; specifically hard cheeses such as cheddar or swiss cheese which contains an amino acid called tyramine. Foods that are aged, dried, smoked or pickled all tend t have high levels of tyramine so they are also best avoided. Other foods high in tyramine include sauerkraut, tofu and smoked meats.
The second common migraine-triggering foods are cured or processed meats often used in sandwiches. Hot dogs and bacon are also in this category because of the nitrates and nitrites that are used as preservatives in these foods. Nitrates and nitrates can dilate the blood vessels in the brain and we now know what happens when these blood vessels constrict and dilate right?
Even if these foods are not migraine triggers for you, I would still recommend you eliminate processed meats from your diet because the artificial preservatives they are packaged in have been linked to numerous other health issues including colon cancer.
Now unfortunately, the third most common migraine triggering food in a lot of people (but not all) is .... don't hate me!......chocolate! Although this doesn't seem fair, I strongly recommend you try eliminating chocolate to see if it is a culprit because if it is, it is better to know now. (Keep your fingers crossed, you are one of the lucky ones ;))
Other very common migraine triggers tend to fall within the "convenience food" category. This is because of the artificial flavours, colours and preservatives that are often lurking in these processed problem foods. One of the most common artificial ingredients used in processed/packaged foods is monosodium glutamate (MSG). MSG has been linked to numerous health issues and yes, you guessed it, one of them is triggering migraines. Unfortunately, MSG is also often found in Chinese food so you might want to reconsider next time you reach for the takeaway menu! Again, perhaps this isn't a specific problem for you, but it's in your best interests to give it a miss for a while and see if your migraines improve.
Now moving onto the most common drinks that tend to trigger migraines......
Alcohol is a common trigger for headaches and migraines. And yes, unfortunately, my favourite tipple of choice, red wine is at the top of the trigger list for many people :(. This is suspected because off the sulfites often used in wine making as well as their flavonoid and histamine content. Beer also tends to be a common trigger for some people so again, give it a miss for a while and see how you feel.
Coffee and tea (or any drink with caffeine for that matter) are also known migraine triggers. Likely because of caffeine's stimulating effect on the nervous system which would then lead to constriction and dilation of blood vessels. So you might be wondering what CAN you drink? Well I am sharing one of my favourite migraine-friendly hot-drink alternative recipes below so check it out and see what you think :)
Surprisingly, it is not always the typical foods and drink you would expect to see on the culprit list. Believe it or not, ice and ice-cold water have also been shown to trigger headaches and migraines. So try not to eat or drink things that are too cold. Instead try to drink room temperature water. Another bonus to this is it is easier on your digestive system.
High-sugar foods can also bring on migraines for some, but unfortunately it is not as easy as switching to a diet drink or artificial sweetener because artificial sweeteners are another common trigger. Aspartame is in diet sodas and other processed foods to make them taste sweet without adding sugar but that unfortunately doesn't make it a friendly alternative. There is a lot of evidence stacking up that artificial sweeteners are damaging to the liver and also wreak havoc with your blood-sugar so even if this isn't a migraine trigger for you, this is another one I would suggest you eliminate as soon as possible.
In summary, there are many common food/drink triggers for migraines. Maybe one, or more of these trigger migraines for you. The best way to know is by eliminating them from your diet for a few weeks and see how that works.
You might have noticed that the list of typical foods and drinks that are common triggers are unhealthy foods in other ways also so this might be the push you needed to finally eliminate them from your diet. Processed, packaged foods loaded with artificial ingredients are burdening your body with toxins that overwhelm your body in so many different ways. Once you eliminate these foods/drinks from your lifestyle, I think you will be surprised how more energetic and healthier you feel overall.
If you are struggling to get to the bottom of your health woes or chronic symptoms, CLICK HERE TO SCHEDULE YOUR FREE STRATEGY SESSION and let's have an informal chat to see where I might be able to help you :)
Do any of these trigger migraines for you (or someone you care about)? Let me know in the comments below.
Ready for that migraine-friendly hot-drink recipe I told you about? Here you go.....I told you it was simple!
Fresh & Calm Herbal Tea:
5 washed mint leaves (or a tea bag)
2 cups of boiled water
Steep mint leaves (or tea bag) for 5-10 minutes.
Serve & enjoy!
Tip: Let the tea cool down a bit before drinking it.