FOOD TRIGGERING MIGRAINE-article by Dr Navin Tiwari, Renowned Neurologist , Indore

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Migraine patients need to care of their dietary habits as there are certain food items that may act as triggering agents for migraine.  An eye should be kept on our dietry pattern and try to figure out which food particle is acting as an agent triggering migraine attacks.


The nitrites or nitrates in  aged meats are thought to bring on a migraine. For people who take mono amine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) medications, avoidance of all foods containing tyramine — including aged cheeses, red wine, alcoholic beverages, and some processed meats.

Salty foods

Salty foods — especially salty processed foods that may contain harmful preservatives — may trigger migraines in some people. Consuming high levels of sodium can increase blood pressure, causing headaches or migraines.


It’s not so much the alcohol itself that’s associated with a migraine , it’s the withdrawal from it causes headache . There is no good evidence demonstrating red wine to be more triggering than other alcoholic beverages,. Blood flow to your brain increases when you drink alcohol. Some scientists blame the headache on impurities in alcohol or by-products produced as your body metabolizes alcohol.  Sulfites used as a preservative may also cause headache. The higher the  sulfite content, the greater the chance of developing migraine. Alcohol also causes dehydration, which may also cause migraine. Red wine, beer, whiskey, Scotch, and champagne are the most commonly identified headache triggers.

Food additives

Food preservatives  contained in certain foods mostly trigger headaches. Nitrates and nitrites are additives in various food items like Hot dogs, Ham, Sausage, Bacon,Lunch meats and deli-style meats, Pepperoni, Other cured or processed meats. These substances are vasodilators dilating blood vessels, causing headaches in sensitive peoples.


Foods containing MSG

Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is a glutamic acid that naturally exists in our bodies. It is also in certain foods, and food additive. MSG is one of the active ingredients in soy sauce, meat tenderizer, Asian foods, and a variety of packaged It’s considered safe to eat, but it act as trigger for migraines. Most symptoms begin within 20 to 25 minutes after consuming MSG.Food Triggering Migraine


Caffeine is found in various food items like chocolate and cocoa, beverages such as coffee, tea, and colas. Some caffeine can actually help relieve a headache, but it’s a double-edged sword. Aspartame and other artificial sweeteners are linked to headaches in some people. Small amounts may improve a migraine, but the amount to 200 mg /day or the amount of caffeine in 1 10 oz cup of coffee. Too much caffeine or caffeine withdrawal can also provoke a migraine headache.

Cold foods

Many people develop[ed migraine headache by eating cold ice cream quickly or drinking cold drinks. It’s more likely to occur if you are over-heated from exercise or hot temperatures. Pain, which is felt in and around forehead, peaks 25 to 60 seconds and lasts from several seconds to one or two minutes. About one-third of people experience “head rushes”, or “ice cream headache” and more than 90 percent of migraine sufferers report an increased sensitivity to ice cream.


In a study  chocolate is thought to be the second most common trigger for migraines after alcohol. It affects an estimated 25 percent of people who experience migraines. It contains caffeine and also beta-phenylethylamine, which may trigger headaches in migraineurs.

Pickled and fermented foods

pickled and fermented foods can contain high amounts of tyramine. These foods include,pickles, kimchi, kombucha), pickled okra, pickled ,alapenos.

Other foods

These foods have been identified as triggers by some headache sufferers:

Peanuts, peanut butter, almonds, and other nuts and seeds

Pizza or other tomato-based products

Potato chip products

Chicken livers and other organ meats, pate

Smoked or dried fish

Sourdough bread, fresh baked yeast goods.

Most beans including lima, Italian, pole, broad, fava, navy, pinto, snow peas, garbanzo, lentils, and dried beans and peas



Certain fresh fruits, including ripe bananas, citrus fruits, papaya, red plums, raspberries, kiwi, and pineapple

Dried fruits (figs, raisins, dates)

Soups made from meat extracts or bouillon (not homemade broth)

Cultured dairy products, sour cream, buttermilk, yogurt.


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