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Friday, June 14, 2024

Migraine Triggering Foods: What to Avoid for Better Headache Management


Migraines are a common neurological disorder characterized by intense, throbbing headaches often accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and sound. While the exact cause of migraines remains unclear, certain foods and beverages have been identified as potential triggers. This article will discuss the most common migraine-triggering foods and provide tips for identifying and avoiding them.

  1. Aged Cheese

Aged cheese, such as cheddar, blue cheese, and parmesan, contains tyramine, a compound that may cause migraines in some individuals. Tyramine is formed as a result of the breakdown of the amino acid tyrosine during the aging process.

Tips: Opt for fresh, unaged cheeses like mozzarella, feta, and ricotta to minimize tyramine intake.

  1. Cured Meats

Cured meats, such as salami, pepperoni, and bacon, contain preservatives called nitrates and nitrites, which can dilate blood vessels and trigger migraines in susceptible individuals.

Tips: Choose fresh, unprocessed meats like chicken, turkey, or lean beef instead of cured meats.

  1. Alcohol

Alcohol, particularly red wine, can provoke migraines due to its content of histamines, tannins, and tyramine. Additionally, alcohol can cause dehydration, which may exacerbate headache symptoms.

Tips: Limit alcohol consumption and always drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.

  1. Chocolate

Chocolate is a common migraine trigger, possibly due to its content of phenylethylamine, a compound that can affect blood flow in the brain.

Tips: Replace chocolate with carob-based products or opt for white chocolate, which contains lower levels of phenylethylamine.

  1. Caffeine

Caffeine can have both positive and negative effects on migraines. While it can help alleviate headache pain in some individuals, excessive caffeine intake or withdrawal may trigger migraines in others.

Tips: Monitor your caffeine intake and avoid excessive consumption. Gradually decrease caffeine intake if you suspect it may be contributing to your migraines.

  1. Artificial Sweeteners

Aspartame, an artificial sweetener found in many diet sodas, sugar-free gums, and other low-calorie products, has been linked to migraines in some people.

Tips: Choose natural sweeteners like stevia, honey, or maple syrup, and avoid products containing aspartame.

  1. Food Additives

Food additives like monosodium glutamate (MSG) can trigger migraines in some individuals. MSG is often found in processed foods, canned soups, and snack foods.

Tips: Opt for whole, unprocessed foods and read food labels carefully to avoid additives like MSG.

  1. Citrus Fruits

Citrus fruits, such as oranges, lemons, and grapefruits, contain compounds called amines that may cause migraines in some people.

Tips: Choose low-amine fruits like apples, pears, and bananas if you find citrus fruits problematic.

Identifying and Managing Migraine Triggers

Since individual migraine triggers can vary, it is essential to identify your specific food triggers by keeping a detailed food diary. Record everything you eat and drink, along with the time of consumption and any migraine symptoms you experience. This information will help you identify patterns and potential triggers.


Migraine-triggering foods can vary greatly from person to person. By identifying and avoiding your specific food triggers, you can better manage your migraines and improve your overall quality of life. Always consult with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian for personalized advice on migraine management and dietary modifications.

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