Back to Back Issues Page
HeadWay, Issue #124 -- Increase Your Food Trigger IQ
November 21, 2014

*Please note: URLs may wrap onto the next line. To visit the website, cut and paste the entire URL into your address bar on your browser*

In this issue:

Increase Your Food Trigger IQ

Don't-Miss Articles at Headache and Migraine News

Say what?!  Gluten

Increase Your Food Trigger IQ

The internet is swarming with so-called "migraine diets", eating plans that are supposed to lead to fewer migraine attacks.  And the truth is - many of the diets work for some people, even though some of the diets are drastically different.

One reason could be that many foods that seem to trigger migraine have certain things in common (for example, you'll see processed meats in more than one category below).  For more discussion, see Do "Migraine Diets" have this in Common?

Today we're just going to look at a few of the types of foods that may be triggers for some people - getting beyond bananas, chocolate and caffeine.


One of the oldest and most common migraine-fighting diets is the low-tyramine diet.  Tyramine is a compound known as an amine which is found in many foods.  Tyramine is commonly in foods which are preserved or aged.  It also shows up in leftovers, which is why people prone to migraine should be especially cautious of leftover meals that have been in the fridge for more than two days.  (See Warning: Leftovers may Trigger Migraine Attacks)

Other examples of foods high in tyramine would be soy sauce, aged meats and cheeses, pickles, nuts, and alcoholic beverages such as beer.

Read more at Should you avoid food with tyramine?


It has been estimated that 6-30% of the population may be sensitive to monosodium glutamate (MSG) and related chemicals.  The trick is that there are so many different names in ingredient lists which could be related.  For example, watch out for words like autolized, hydrolized, malt extract, and spices.  For a quick overview, see The 12 Top MSG Offenders.

Sugar Substitutes

Sweeteners such as Splenda, aspartame, stevia and sorbitol will be topics of controversy for a very long time.  They are all different, with different histories and varied amounts of research have been done.  For most of us, eating all things in moderation and choosing natural alternatives seems to be the best advice.  Search here for more on many of these products.


Histamine is another reason why migraineurs may need to avoid fermented foods.  But there could be other reasons why your histamine levels are too high.  For an overview of histamine and migraine, see Migraine and Histamine: Part 1 and Migraine and Histamine: Part 2.

Nitrates and Nitrites

Common in processed meats (such as hot dogs), but found in many other places, nitrates and nitrites have been blamed for many migraine attacks.


There are concerns that even if you have tested negative for celiac disease (coeliac disease), you may still be sensitive to gluten.  This is known as "Gluten Syndrome".  Many migraine patients have found that their health has significantly improved when they try a strict gluten-free diet.  That means not just avoiding bread, but carefully reading labels and avoiding regular oats, many soups and gravies, certain seasonings, certain vitamins, and the list goes on.

Although it may sound overwhelming at first, we once again get back to the value of natural, whole foods.  Most vegetables, meats, and fruits are fine, and you can have a wonderful variety of the greatest food on earth if you aren't addicted to eating out of a can.


This is only a short list - there are many other diets we could mention.  But now you have a little more knowledge about some of the key diets and food avoidances that are actually helping migraine patients.  Remember, learning to cook easy, simple recipes that don't rely on canned, processed, and pre-seasoned foods can make a big difference in your health.  For more, see our Migraine diet page.

Don't-Miss Articles at Headache and Migraine News

Here are a few recent articles that you won't want to miss...

Say what?!  Gluten

It's become a bit of a running joke that many people who are avoiding gluten don't actually know what gluten is!  So let's see if we can explain it in plain language.

Gluten is a combination of proteins found naturally in wheat, rye, barley, and crossbreeds of these grains such as triticale.  Gluten, related to the word glue, helps things stick together in your baking recipes.  Gluten is actually composed of two types of proteins called prolamins and glutelins.

That's probably more than your friend wants to know already, but for more information check out What Is Gluten?

Thanks for reading!  Remember, if you have feedback or ideas for future issues, visit the HeadWay MailRoom.  Your password is nomoache.
Back to Back Issues Page