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Are These 7 Foods Really Causing Your Migraine?

If you are prone to migraines you may already know what causes them, but it isn’t always as easy to identify as you may think.


There are so many theories about what causes migraine, but food often is linked to an attack. But is it really?

1. Chocolate

It’s often thought of as a trigger, but studies show chocolate probably doesn’t cause migraines and may help prevent them.

It might be that people crave chocolate just before getting a migraine, and that’s what gives it a bad reputation.

2. Coffee

This can be both good and bad. An occasional cup, once or twice a week, may help prevent migraines. But if you have a daily caffeine habit, it may not be as helpful.

In fact, skipping your morning coffee could become a trigger.

3. MSG: Monosodium Glutamate

MSG is added to many foods to enhance flavour and is commonly found in canned foods, soups, fast foods, and processed foods.

MSG has been said to cause a number of minor health symptoms you should be aware of, and some people blame it for their migraines, but additional research is needed to support direct links.

4. Beer

f you like your beer straight from the pump then generally that has about 25 times the migraine-inducing amino acid tyramine as beer in bottles.

Try switching to bottled beer or low alcohol for a change and see if it helps.

5. Red Wine

Red wine can cause a rise in the level of serotonin (5-HT) in the blood which has been linked to migraine headaches.

Sulphites are often blamed for causing headaches too, although in fact, white wine contains higher levels of sulphites than red wine.

6. Cheese

Do you like strong tasting Cheddar or an almost liquid aged brie? Unfortunately both are likely to have high levels of tyramine, a substance linked to migraines.

Milder cheeses, like mozzarella and ricotta, are fine, though.

7. Salami

Cured meats are also high in migraine-linked tyramine, but not everyone is sensitive to it, so if you know it doesn’t affect you, go ahead.

If you are sensitive then stay away from cured meats.

Hormonal migraines

There is no doubt food is certainly one important factor, but it’s no surprise to learn that your hormones may also be involved.

Menopause and perimenopause are when many women may first experience migraine related to fluctuating hormone levels and lack of hormone balance.

Headaches are usually caused when the blood vessels are dilated which is often a feature of oestrogen dominance, but progesterone does restore normal vascular tone to counteract the dilation in a safe and natural way.

Dr John Lee – the pioneer of natural progesterone usage – stated that women who regularly experience migraines find they are often linked to oestrogen dominance so that progesterone helps by rebalancing your hormones so this is less likely to occur.

However there is an exception to this rule for women who are still menstruating regularly. If the Migraine headaches tend to recur 4 to 5 days before the end of the menstrual cycle, this is called a Pre-Menstrual Migraine and is caused by rapidly dropping oestrogen levels.

What many women find effective is to use Serenity from days 14-23 of their cycle and then 20-1 with its combined progesterone and oestrogen content from days 24-28.

Migraines can also be associated with low thyroid function. Even low blood sugar can be a causative factor as well as investigating your own personal triggers.

The food factor

There’s a long list of foods known to trigger a migraine attack, the most common ones being foods that contain histamine and MSG, chocolate, cheese and other dairy products, artificial sweeteners (e.g. aspartame), caffeine, cured meats, and anything with a strong smell.

Keeping a food diary is the best way to figure out what foods cause your migraines, just log down every single thing for a week or so and then look for a pattern relating to a subsequent migraine attack.

Just because you eat a food right before a migraine doesn’t necessarily mean it was the cause. It’s important to see patterns and that can really only be seen over time.