Food Triggers

Food Triggers in Migraine

Food triggers are those most commonly talked about - everyone has heard about them. But in truth, only about 25% or so of migraine sufferers have any food triggers, perhaps a bit higher for alcohol as a trigger. For most people, migraine food triggers are not food allergies. Migraine sufferers with various food triggers have been tested for allergies to their offending foods, and no markers of allergy (IgE) have been found.

 If you do think you have a food trigger, avoiding that food can reduce the number of headaches you have.

Triggers are additive, so food triggers in addition to other triggers, like sleep deprivation or hormonal changes, can more easily bring on a migraine attack. It is not usually necessary to go on a special migraine trigger elimination diet to discover what your food triggers are. It is usually sufficient to keep a food diary in conjunction with a headache diary.


These are common food triggers:


Aged Cheese, Sour cream, Yogurt, Buttermilk
Citrus
Nuts
Legumes:

        Peas
        Beans
        Soy:
                Soy sauce
                Tofu
                Edamame
                Soy "Nutraceuticals" used instead of estrogen HRT
        Soy may hide in ingredients as texturized vegetable protein

Onions
Garlic
Pickled foods, Vinegar: Salad dressings, Ketchup, Relish

 

These are moderately common triggers:

Aspartame (Nutrasweet®)
Chocolate
Wine, Beer, Other alcoholic beverages
Wheat/gluten*
Caffeine

*This pertains largely to those who have a comorbid condition called gluten insensitivity, or celiac disease.  This condition is a little more common in migraine sufferers than it is in the general population.


Sulfites

The following foods contain sulfites:

Wine, especially red
Dried apricots, apples
Dehydrated potatoes
Shrimp, lobster
Used as a dough conditioner
Used to bleach food starch
Glacéed fruit
Jams
Prepared gravies
Molasses
Soup mixes
Vegetable juices
Fruit juices
Hard cider

Nitrates/Nitrites

The following foods containe nitrates or nitrites:

Smoked fish
Corned beef
Bologna
Pastrami
Pepperoni
Canned ham
Bacon
Sausages
Frankfurters/ Hot dogs
Beef jerky

 

These are less common triggers:

Bananas
Papayas
Pineapples
Figs
Avocados
Olives
Yeasty foods, like freshly baked bread
Intensely sweet foods
Intensely salty foods

MSG  -  this may hide as the following:
                Hydrolyzed vegetable protein
                Hydrolyzed plant protein
                Natural flavoring
                Kombu extract

MSG has been debated as a trigger.  Many people are convinced it is their trigger, even though the scientific basis for this has been questioned, as glutamate is widely distributed throughout the brain as a neurotransmitter.  It may, in fact, be the sodium or impurities in MSG to which migraineurs are reacting.

Here are some links for further information about MSG:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2005/jul/10/foodanddrink.features3

http://www.truthinlabeling.org/manufac.html