Society

Certain foods may trigger migraines

Headaches remain a mystery to sufferers and professionals alike

Ma ny fac tors, includ ing food, can contribute to the onset of migraine headaches.

However, migraine headaches remain a myster y to migraine sufferers and medical professionals alike.

Researchers have studied t he ef fect of foods on t he genesis of a migraine, and some foods have proven to be repeat offenders when it comes to triggering the headaches.

Chemical components of certain foods may play a role in why they cause headaches to occur. The effect certain foods have on the body may also be instrumental.

For example, alcohol tends to thin the blood, which can increase blood f low to the brain. Furthermore, alcohol is a diuretic and can dehydrate the body, another headache trigger. A lthough ever yone reacts differently to alcohol, whiskey, red w ine, champagne, and beer are the most common alcoholic migraine triggers.

TYRAMINE—Foods that contain tyramine may also trigger migraines.

Tyramine is a naturallyoccurring compound of ten present in many plants and animals. It can also form from tyrosine — an amino acid found in a var iet y of foods — when those foods are fermented, or start to decay.

Tyramine can have effects on the adrenal gland, which triggers the “fight or flight” reaction in the body. This elevates the heart rate, increases blood pressure and increases the amount of adrenaline and other substances in the blood. All of these factors may trigger a migraine.

Aged cheese, preserved meats and other items that have been fermented are prime sources of tyramine. They can be reduced or avoided if it seems these foods play a role in migraines.

ADDITIVES—Chemical additives may be used in foods to preserve freshness or modify f lavor. Some people report headaches from monosodium glutamate (MSG), but there is no definitive research linking MSG to headaches.

However, heavily processed foods may affect people who suffer from migraines in different ways.

Cured and processed meats, such as hot dogs and sausage, will contain additives. Additives are present in many convenience foods, such as frozen and packaged dinners, as well.

Processed cheese may have additives as well as high levels oftyramine,makingthema double threat.

Whenever possible, migraine sufferers should limit processed foods and choose fresh foods to minimize exposure to chemical additives.

OTHER TRIGGERS—There are other foods beyond those with tyramine or additives that may trigger headaches as well.

Dairy may contribute to the overproduction of mucous in the sinuses, which can create pressure and lead to migraines.

Published surveys have found that af ter cheese, chocolate, alcohol, bananas and citrus fruit are the most common triggers of migraines.


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2011-08-04 digital edition



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