One of the frequent causes of migraine is food. (See: causes of migraine.) Determine food allergies by fasting for a week, then adding one food at a time to your diet. Reactions can occur from twenty minutes to two weeks after ingesting the irritating food. The most common allergens associated with migraines are cow's milk, wheat (gluten), chocolate, eggs, oranges and the additive MSG. Avoid aged protein foods, such as hot dogs, cheese, sausages, cold cuts and smoked or pickled fish, as they contain tyramine, a vasoactive amine, which has been shown to trigger migraine attacks. Tyramine is also found in alcoholic beverages. Red wine should be avoided not only because of its tyramine content but also because it contains flavonoids which inhibit the activity of the enzyme which normally breaks down tyramine and other vasoactive amines in the body.
Reduce the intake of animal fats. The arachidonic acid they contain tends to increase blood clotting, which is associated with migraines. Instead, eat foods which tend to inhibit blood clotting, such as fish, unrefined flax, walnut or pumpkin seed oil, garlic and onion. A predominantly vegetarian diet will keep acid-forming foods to a minimum. Raw wheat germ provides vitamins B3 and B6 which help balance serotonin levels, a hormone affecting constriction of blood vessels. Green, leafy vegetables and beets provide iron.
Foods to Eat
Foods to Avoid
Try limiting or eliminating the following foods and see if it reduces the frequency or intensity of your headaches.
Meat and Fish
Fruits and vegetables
Avocados, bananas, beans (garbanzo, lima, navy, pinto), citrus fruits (grapefruit, oranges) and their juice, nuts (and nut butters), onions, papayas, pea pods, raisins, sauerkraut, seeds (pumpkin, sesame, sunflower)
Yeast breads and cake (including raised doughnuts)
Alcohol (especially beer, bourbon, red wine, and sherry), coffee, tea, chocolate, caffeinated sodas
MSG (frequently present in Chinese foods, canned and processed foods), soy sauce, vinegar
See Also: Causes of Migraine For a description of role played by food in migraine.
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