Does diet play a role in getting a migraine? Are there certain triggers which bring one on? Is it the food or a chemical within the food? The relationship between nutrition and migraines is mostly anecdotal, but more clinical studies are being done right now. Let’s review the facts we do know.
Characteristics Of A Migraine
A migraine is distinguishable from a simple headache by a number of factors.
- Pain can be only on one side of the head
- Sensitivity to light (photophobia), sounds, and smells
- Visible disturbance prior to and during the headache, known as auras
- More women than men are susceptible
- Can last for 72 hours or more
Facts About Migraines
Women are three times more likely to have migraine headaches, and they run in families. (50%)
A few studies have shown that obesity is linked to the severity and frequency of the attacks, but there is no conclusive result.
Migraine attacks are related to estrogen during menstrual cycles and menopause when estrogen levels drop or when anything affects estrogen.
Most Common Migraine Triggers
Top foods which seem to trigger migraines include cheeses with tyramine, monosodium glutamate (MSG) found in soy sauce and meat tenderizers, aspartame, nitrates and nitrites found in processed meats, caffeine, and chocolate. In addition, alcohol, red wine, coffee, and tea can instigate a migraine.
Other factors found in studies include noise as a trigger, changes in the weather, plus insufficient or excessive sleep. Some studies show the medicines you take, lack of sleep, not eating/ skipping meals, and not hydrating sufficiently are all contributing factors.
In addition, family history, environmental factors, personal problems, lifestyle, food and nutrition.
You can’t control any family history of migraines, but you can do the following:
- Eat mini meals rather than large ones
- Manage stress
- Don’t skip meals or fast
- Hydrate sufficiently
- Don’t stop caffeine cold turkey
- Get enough sleep
- Talk with Palm Beach Pain Institute about the medicines you take and how they may affect your migraines.
Evaluate and consider all these variables in determining your triggers. It may not be only nutrition or food.