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Foods That Trigger Migraine Attacks

Foods That Trigger Migraine Attacks Foods That Trigger Migraine Attacks

Migraines are characterized by chronic headaches and significant pain that can last for hours or days. Migraine headaches have many causes, including foods. Trigger foods may cause migraines in some individuals, but not in everyone. In addition, trigger foods can cause migraines one day and none the next day. The National Pain Foundation reports that triggers, such as food, may combine to cause migraines during uncomfortable times of stress and menstruation. Individuals who suffer from chronic headaches should research and test certain foods to help find potential migraines triggers, suggests the National Headache Foundation.

Food Additives

Different types of food additives can trigger migraines. Nitrites and nitrates are preservatives used to add flavor and prevent food poisoning. Processed and cured meats, including hot dogs, sausage, ham, bacon, salami, pepperoni, pastrami and corned beef often contain nitrites. According to the National Headache Foundation, individuals affected by nitrites often exhibit symptoms within minutes or hours after food consumption. People who suspect that nitrate or nitrite foods trigger their migraines should avoid or watch out for foods with ingredients such as sodium nitrate, sodium nitrite, potassium nitrate or potassium nitrite.


Alcohol can sometimes trigger migraines in certain individuals. Although any type of alcohol can trigger migraines, red wine is the most common alcoholic beverage trigger. Although research is inconclusive, suspected wine substances that can possibly trigger migraines include histamine, tyramine and sulfites. The National Headache Foundation recommends limiting alcohol consumption to minimize the onset of migraine headaches. Consume no more than two drinks daily for men and one drink daily for women, according to the United States Dietary Guidelines for Americans.


Caffeine can be used to treat migraines in some people, but may trigger a migraine in others. Caffeine is included in many liquids, such as coffee, tea, energy drinks and sodas. Caffeine is also present in other foods, such as chocolate, prescription medications and over-the-counter medications. Caffeine goes to the brain quickly and assists the body in absorbing certain medications. If you suspect that caffeine may trigger migraine episode, limit your daily intake. According to the National Headache Foundation, daily caffeine intake of 300 mg is safe for regular users. Migraine sufferers should consult with a doctor to receive proper diagnosis and treatment.

Tyramine-Containing Foods

Migraines can often be triggered by high levels of tyramine, which is produced when the amino acid tyrosine breaks down. Tyramine increases when foods ferment, age or are stored for a time. Examples of tyramine containing foods include aged cheese, cured meats like liverwurst and salami, sauerkraut, fermented soy products like miso and soy sauce, beer, yeast and fava beans.

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