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The Impact Of Diet On Migraine And Headaches

The Impact Of Diet On Migraine And Headaches

Headaches are a common occurrence that makes you feel restless, uncomfortable, stressed, and tired. The situation becomes worse when it is a migraine. Headaches and migraines are often characterized by a throbbing and banging pain in the head region.

Different factors bring about headaches and migraines such as stress, exposure to bright lights, loud noise, and strong smells such as harsh perfumes, and smoke. Factors causing headaches and migraine may differ from one person to another as it depends on the person’s intolerance.

Apart from these factors, researchers have brought to light that some diets can be a factor or trigger for headaches and migraines. Interestingly, this same diet can also prevent and cure migraines and headaches. In a lame man’s understanding, it is said some foods help headaches and some foods trigger headaches.

Sometimes, migraines and headaches are used interchangeably. Some people think they are synonymous with each other. Migraine is a higher form of headache as it comes with a lot of pain and distress. It can also be said that headache is just one of the numerous symptoms of migraines. Migraines are often characterized by nausea, hypersensitivity, dizziness, and extreme fatigue.

Foods that trigger migraine and headache

As earlier said, diet is one of the numerous factors that cause or trigger headaches and migraines. Below are some foods researchers have found that belong to this class. 

Coffee: over the years, coffee drinks have grown to be a stress reliever and body energizer, with this advent, it is known as the world’s most popular beverage. Caffeine is a major constituent in coffee and has been researched to trigger headaches and migraines. Caffeine can also be found in soda, tea, and energy drinks. The major ways caffeine triggers headaches and migraines are;

High intake of caffeine: consuming too much caffeine consistently can trigger headaches and migraine.

Caffeine withdrawal: Trying to withdraw from a habitual coffee intake can cause withdrawal headaches. It may present symptoms like nausea, and constant throbbing that may last for days as in migraines.

The amount of caffeine consumed is directly proportional to the degree and duration of the headache.

If you suffer a headache as a result of caffeine, try to limit your caffeine consumption or stop altogether. In the case of caffeine withdrawal, gradually lower your caffeine intake over a few weeks to prevent headache withdrawal.

Aged Cheese

Another diet that can trigger headaches and migraine is Aged cheese. This is because aged cheeses contain a compound known as Tyramine. This compound is formed when bacteria break down the amino acids tyrosine during the aging process. Studies have shown that the level of tyramine is higher in people with chronic migraine than in healthy people. Tyramine can also be found in chocolate, wine, and yeast but its richest source is aged cheese.

Another culprit that could cause aged cheese to trigger headaches and migraine is histamine.

Alcoholic Beverages

It is no longer news that 3 hours of a heavy dose of alcohol leads to headaches known as hangovers.

However, not all alcoholic beverages cause migraine after consumption. Some studies found that red wine is more likely to trigger a migraine attack than any other alcoholic beverage. This is because red wine contains histamine. Processed meat, fish, and fermented foods also contain histamine.

Also, the Reduced activity of DAO ( diamine oxidase enzymes) is said to be common in people with migraines. DAO is an enzyme responsible for breaking histamine in the digestive system. When this occurs, it can lead to a health disorder known as Dietary histamine intolerance, characterized by migraines, sneezing, wheezing, skin rashes, and fatigue.

To minimize or prevent the risk of migraines and headaches, antihistamines should be taken before the consumption of red wine.

Processed Meat

As earlier said, processed meat such as sausages, bacon, and ham contains histamine which causes migraines and headaches. This type of headache is known as a Hot dog headache.  Also, processed meat is known to contain a preservative known as nitrites. These nitrites consist of sodium nitrite and potassium nitrite, and they are known to be migraine and headache triggers.

If you suffer from migraines and headaches after consuming processed meat, you should consider eliminating them from your diet. There are better choices like poultry meats. 

Other foods that may trigger headaches and migraine.

From personal experiences and evidence, these foods are known to trigger migraines and headaches. The reactions they caused are dependent on the individuals as they may be either allergic or intolerant. 

Aspartame and sucralose: Studies have linked these artificial sweeteners to headache and migraine triggers.

Citrus fruits: Fruits such as oranges, lime, and tangerines can trigger headaches.

Chocolate: Some individuals are sensitive to chocolates and these may trigger headaches and migraine.

Gluten: Folks that are gluten intolerant may suffer migraine when they consume Gluten. Wheat, barley, and rye contain gluten.

Foods that can alleviate headaches and migraines

Suffering from migraine and headaches have us scampering to find relief. Apart from the medications that may be prescribed by your doctor, some foods can help prevent and relieve headaches and migraine pains

Water: This may not be food but it is the first on the list when looking to prevent or relieve headaches and migraine. This way, the body is hydrated and homeostasis is achieved. Mild dehydration can lead to headaches, so you should try to be hydrated at all times.

Fruits and vegetables

Fruits and veggies are always among the life-saving food for almost all ailments and migraines and headaches are not left out. Fruits and veggies contain antioxidants that help to combat oxidative stress and free radicals in the body. Oxidative stress causes migraines and headaches and antioxidants help to prevent or relieve them. Nutritious vegetables include spinach, carrot, and kale. Nutritious fruits include raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries. Spicy peppers like ginger, turmeric, and ginger can also help.

Herbal tea

Just like water, herbal teas are hydrating plus they are medicinal too. Research has it that simple ginger tea is more effective than most migraine-relieving drugs and an added benefit is that it causes no side effects. Other herbal teas like chamomile and peppermint tea help with anxiety issues and relieve sinus headaches respectively.

Caffeinated foods

It is still a mystery how caffeine can be a trigger for headaches and migraine and also helps for their relief. A small amount of caffeine can help headaches by constricting blood vessels in the head region leading to the relief of headaches. Drinks that contain caffeine include coffee, soda, black tea, green tea, energy drink, and sports drink. As much caffeine can relieve headaches, it is not advisable to consume it in large amounts as this may trigger headaches and migraines.

Supplements that can alleviate headaches and migraine.

Sometimes supplements are preferred over diets because it comes in handy and is almost readily available. Below are supplements you can take to prevent and relieve your headaches and migraines on the go.


This is an herbal supplement that helps to relieve migraines. It can be taken by adults, adolescents, and even children.  The amount of dose taken is directly proportional to its effect. As much as butterbur is a headache reliever, it can cause cancer and liver damage when taken in its unprocessed form.

Coenzyme Q10

This is an antioxidant that helps in the body’s energy metabolism. It is produced by the body and is found in various foods. Several studies have shown that coenzyme Q10 helps to reduce migraine frequency.

Folate, magnesium, Riboflavin, vitamins a, and minerals

All these supplements have been researched to reduce and prevent the frequency of migraines. 


Headaches and migraine are common occurrences as a result of stress and most times underlying illness. Before adhering to diets and supplements, you should ensure from your health provider that your migraines and headaches are not caused by an underlying condition. The food you eat can either trigger or prevent headaches and migraines, make sure you are making the right choices. Foods like coffee, processed meat, fermented cheese, and alcoholic beverages can trigger headaches and migraines.

While drinks and foods like water, herbal tea, coffee fruit, and vegetables can help with migraines and headaches attacks. Alternatively, supplements like folate, riboflavin, vitamins, minerals, coenzyme Q10 a, and butterbur can be taken to prevent and relieve headaches and migraines. In cases of headaches and migraines with prolonged time and high intensity, health professionals should be consulted. Seeks advice from health professionals before taking supplements and medicine that relieve and prevent headaches.

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