Diet Headache Migraine. You know there's a connection, but where do you go from here? Let's start with the diet basics. There are two types of food when it comes to migraines and other headaches:
1. Headache trigger foods
These are the foods that can start the migraine reaction. Though not technically an allergy, these foods can cause something like an allergic reaction when it comes to migraines. Diet requirements are different in everyone, but there are some common foods to avoid.
2. Headache fighting foods
These foods put your body in optimal migraine-fighting shape, and can either relieve migraine or help you cope. These are the diet headache migraine winners!
A good nutritious diet in general will help fight migraine. More and more research is being done into the connection between diet, digestion and migraine. For one take on the issue, and a product being used to promote good digestive health, read about the gut brain connection here.
Before you get overwhelmed, here's an excellent tip from Agnes Peg Hartnell, EdD RD and G Scott Tyler, MD. They suggest you start out by avoiding any food that may cause headache for the length of time that you would normally get 3 headaches, then re-introduce foods 1 or 2 at a time:
"In general, allow three days between headaches before introducing a new ingredient (agent) for testing. And read labels no matter how many times you buy a food product. Manufacturers sometimes change ingredients without warning". (From Migraine Headaches and the Foods You Eat: 200 recipes for relief)
First, headache trigger foods...
Cheese (except cottage, farmer's, ricotta and cream), Alcohol (red wine is the worst. Watch out for flavourings (ie vanilla) which may contain alcohol), Caffeine (especially suddenly raising or lowering your intake), Chocolate, Aged and non-fresh meats and liver (ie cold cuts), -(also watch out for products with meat and hydrolyzed protein, such as gravy and soup mixes), Soy beans, Italian green beans, broad bean pods, MSG, Nuts (especially peanuts), Yeast (especially in homemade bread and sourdough), Sauerkraut (and other aged foods)
A big problem for migraine sufferers is food with tyramine, so there is now a page dedicated to cutting down on foods with tyramine.
Another theory is that tannins are diet headache migraine link. Find out what tannins are and where you find them.
Salad Dressing, Rennet tablets, Dried fruits (including raisins), Imitation crab, Licorice, Mushrooms, Snails, Salty foods, Rhubarb, Citrus fruits, Ripe avocado, Ripe banana, Yogurt and buttermilk, Fresh raspberries, Red plums, Onions, Worcestershire or teriyaki sauce. Wheat is a trigger for some as well.
Especially avoid sudden drastic changes in your diet, such as suddenly cutting out all caffeine or suddenly eating large amounts of peppermint. Whatever it may be, ease into it and eat a well balanced diet!
In the world of diet-headache-migraine cures, the best advice is simply to eat a well balanced diet with plenty of fresh, non-processed foods. That includes a variety of grains, fruits and vegetables. But here are a few specific foods that you may want to introduce into your diet. These are believed by many to have the diet headache migraine connection, and may cut down on your pain:
Peppermint, Cayenne pepper, Ginger (more on ginger here), Fish and fish oil, Foods rich in calcium (such as spinach, broccoli and kale), Foods rich in magnesium, such as spinach (maybe Popeye was right! -read this article for more on the magnesium migraines connection), Oatmeal, Wheat, Garlic
For more on the diet headache migraine connection, visit our herb for headache page. Another excellent all around reference for healing foods (special thanks for their ideas on headache fighting foods) is Food--Your Miracle Medicine by Jean Carper.
There are also foods that may help raise your serotonin levels. Dropping serotonin levels may be a major part of the migraine pain process. Read more about serotonin and foods here.
Remember, eat a balanced diet and also try to eat small amounts throughout the day. Skipping meals and fasting are surefire triggers for many people, possibly because dropping blood sugar levels may contribute to migraine symptoms and other headaches.
All the best on your search to find YOUR diet headache migraine connection!
For more information on headache natural remedies, try our overview of what's available... The diet headache migraine connection is a good starting point, but you may want to delve a little deeper. Start with a generally healthy diet and work from there.
And, is there such a thing as a migraine diet?
Special thanks to Dr. Seymour Diamond and his book
Conquering Your Migraine: The Essential Guide to Understanding and Treating Migraines for All Sufferers and Their Families, which has a wealth of excellent information about migraine and food. This, in addition to some of the sources mentioned above, helped provide this information.
Ready to start feeling better? Now online are quick reviews of three excellent cookbooks designed to get you started. Read more about making your diet head-friendly here!