Migraine and Food Sensitivity
Migraines are painful, uncomfortable and life limiting. For years certain foods have been implicated in migraines and many sufferers have tried, often in desperation, to change their diets with little success. So does food play a role in migraine? The answer has to be a very definite 'yes'. Food, for some people, is the sole cause of their migraines.
Does it play a role in your migraine? It could do. I suspect that if you are reading this then you have tried many different avenues with little or no success and are probably even sceptical that food could be a problem – you may have eliminated all the usual suspects with no improvement.
A quick review of books dealing with migraines shows that food is often mentioned and a few culprits, such as oranges, chocolate, and caffeine, are usually suggested. Yet two key points are often over looked:
- Food intolerance is very individual specific. It is not possible to say that a particular food will cause certain symptoms. Any food, or food chemical, can cause any symptom and that includes migraine.
- The role of food chemicals, despite the fact that lists usually include foods high in certain amines, is rarely mentioned.
It is extremely easy to thoroughly test a whole range of foods and still have your migraines. In respect of food chemicals, let me give you an example.
If you eliminate cheese and, for a time, notice some improvement and then the migraines return you could be forgiven for thinking the problem lies elsewhere than cheese. At this point it is very easy to get into a cycle of identifying and blaming other foods and limiting your diet unnecessarily. Yet what has in fact happened is that your Tyramine intolerance level has been breached. By eliminating the cheese you reduced the amount of Tyramine your body had to deal with but once the level built up again, from other foods, the migraines returned.
The cumulative effect of food chemicals combined with the fact that we all have different tolerance levels means that an intolerance problem is often difficult to identify. These difficulties, combined with scepticism, have resulted in a gross under estimation of the role played by food chemicals in migraines.
Identifying a food chemical sensitivity is not a straightforward process but is definitely worth trying if nothing else has worked for you.
The food chemicals that have been linked with migraine include: Amines --- Aspartame --- Caffeine --- Histamine --- MSG --- Phenylethylamine --- Serotonin --- Tannins --- Tyramine.
You can find out more in the book Migraine and Food Sensitivity.
The list below is from the research summaries in the above book. Each food has been identified as a migraine trigger for some people.
Alcohol, apple, apple juice, apricot, asparagus, avocado, banana, beans (various), beef, beer, broccoli, butter, cabbage, caraway seed, carbohydrate, carob, carrot, cauliflower, celery, cheese, chicken, chocolate, cinnamon, citrus fruit, clam, cocoa, coffee, cola, corn, corn syrup, cow’s milk, cream, cucumber, dairy products, date, durian, egg, endive, fat, fig, fish, fried food, fructose, garlic, gelatin, ginger, gluten, goat’s milk, grape, ham, hazelnut, herring, honey, ice cream, instant noodles, lamb, leek, lemon, lentils, lettuce, lime, malt, mango, melon, molasses, mushroom, mutton, nut, oats, onion, orange, oyster, pea, peanut, pear, perch, pineapple, pistachio, plaice, plum, pork, potato, processed meat, prune, rabbit, raspberry, rhubarb, rice, root beer, runner bean, rye, sago, salami, salt, sausage, shellfish, soya, spicy noodles, spinach, strawberry, sugar, sweet potato, tap water, tea, tomato, turnip, veal, vegetable oil, walnut, watermelon, wheat, wine, wine vinegar, yeast.