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
Soy "Nutraceuticals" used instead of estrogen HRT
Soy may hide in ingredients as texturized vegetable protein
Pickled foods, Vinegar: Salad dressings, Ketchup, Relish
These are moderately common triggers:
Wine, Beer, Other alcoholic beverages
*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.
The following foods contain sulfites:
Wine, especially red
Dried apricots, apples
Used as a dough conditioner
Used to bleach food starch
The following foods containe nitrates or nitrites:
Frankfurters/ Hot dogs
These are less common triggers:
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
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: