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Got A Migraine? These 10 Foods May Be The Actual Cause.

10 ways to literally starve a migraine.

Food & Drink

I've never had a migraine before. From what one of my closest friends has said, it looks like I need to thank my lucky stars on the daily because she describes them as being pure hell on earth. While oftentimes they're simply described as being an absolutely awful headache, migraines are actually a type of neurological condition that can come with many more symptoms than just a throbbing headache. Some people end up with dizziness, nausea, vomiting and/or extreme sensitivity to light. Not only that but some folks actually receive physical indicators, alerting them that a migraine is on the way too. Some of those signs include food cravings, fatigue, irritability, neck stiffness and even depression.


Even though most migraines "only" last for around 4-5 hours, there are instances when they can go on for as long as a week. The really sucky part, though, is there currently isn't a cure for migraines. Treatment is all about getting properly diagnosed by your healthcare provider, considering the medications or other forms of therapy that they might recommend—oh, and doing all that you can to prevent them from happening in the first place.

That's what this article is going to touch on because, believe it or not, there are certain kinds of foods that can either trigger a migraine or make one so much worse for you. If you're someone who suffers with migraines, you might want to adjust your grocery list from now on. Some stuff may taste really great; yet, without you even realizing it, they are making you feel so much worse.

watermelon-slices-blue-background

Somrudee Doikaewkhao / EyeEm / Getty Images

1. Watermelon

I know, right? How in the world can some watermelon trigger a migraine? Well, the deal is that, if you get one when it's perfectly ripe, you might be OK. The challenge is, that's a hit-or-miss endeavor and if you do end up with one that is not ripe enough, the acid that it produces could give you a migraine. Not only that but if the watermelon is too ripe, that can produce the biogenic amine called tyramine—which can give you one of the worst migraines you've ever had!

You can reduce the chances of encountering either issue by cutting up your watermelon as soon as you get home and putting what you don't plan on eating over the next day or so in the freezer. Also, do not leave a watermelon sitting out for more than a couple of days if you do suffer from migraines. Leaving one out only increases your chances of the watermelon becoming too ripe and giving you all sorts of headaches. Literally.

2. Caffeine

Caffeine is a weird one. It is a diuretic and dehydration definitely doesn't help to prevent a migraine; however, research hasn't been able to find the exact reason for why it's best to consume as little of it as possible if you don't want to bring a migraine on.

Long story short, if you have one serving of say, coffee a day, you should be fine. Three or more cups of java, Pepsi or whatever your caffeine fix may be could cause you to have a migraine for the rest of the day. If that ain't a good enough reason to cut back, I don't know what is.

3. Chocolate

I don't know too many people who don't enjoy chocolate. That's why, if you're a migraine sufferer, I really do hate to be the bearer of bad news. Still, it must be said that if you're all about getting some chocolate in and it also seems like migraines come out of nowhere, chocolate could be an underlying culprit.

The problem is it's full of caffeine and an organic compound known as beta-phenylethylamine. Matter of fact, I actually read that when it comes to foods that do trigger migraines, chocolate is second on the list. Sorry, sis.

4. Aged Cheese

I touched on tyramine when I was talking about watermelon. When it comes to aged cheeses, let me break it down a little more.

Long story short, tyramine is a natural compound that is found in animals and plants. More specifically, it's an amino acid that can help to regulate your blood pressure. The challenge is, too much of it in your system can actually lead to side effects that can make you miserable. Some of those include high blood pressure and yep, you guessed it—migraines.

As it relates to aged cheese specifically, the "older" it is, the more tyramine that's in it. This means that blue cheese, feta, Parmesan, gouda, aged cheddar and Brie are all the kinds of cheese that may taste good but aren't great for you in the not-having-a-headache department.

5. Soy

Because soy contains a high amount of phytoestrogens, it's best to consume it in moderation. Another reason why this is such a good idea is because soy also has tyramine in it as well as MSG (monosodium glutamate) which is an additive that gives flavor to things like soy sauce, soups, condiments, chips and instant noodles.

Unfortunately, MSG is oftentimes linked to cramps and headaches. That, along with the tyramine and high amounts of sodium which can drain water from your system, if anything creates the perfect storm for a migraine, soy would be it.

soybeans-bowl-yellow-background

Sarah Saratonina / EyeEm / Getty Images

6. Alcohol

For those of you who like nothing more than a glass of red wine at the end of the day, I don't know what to tell you. Well, other than the truth. The bottom line here is alcohol is a diuretic and when you're dehydrated, that can definitely either bring on a headache or make one that you've already got a whole lot worse. One study I read said that 35 percent of the people who participated in it admitted that alcohol was a top migraine trigger.

If you're like, "IDC, IDC" on this, at least drink a glass of water before and after any kind of alcohol consumption. Otherwise, you could end up having a migraine from hell. And now, you'll know exactly why.

7. Pineapple

Pineapples are a bit of a wild card. The reason why I say that is because if you have headaches that you know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, are allergy-induced, a couple of slices of fresh pineapple may help you out. The backstory is bromelain is an enzyme that provides an anti-inflammatory and antihistamine effect.

On the flip side, it's not the best thing for you if you suffer with migraines because they're highly acidic and the acid could do more harm than good. Proceed with caution.

8. Processed Meats

I said processed meats but honestly, any kind of salty foods can go into this category. The reason why these can trigger migraines is again, sodium has a way of increasing one's blood pressure while dehydrating them at the same time. That combo is a migraine just waiting to happen.

So, if eating bacon is how you typically start your morning, you might wanna go with something else and see if you have less migraines once you do.

9. Bananas

Guess what else has its fair share of tyramine in it?

Before you throw your monitor, the good news is banana peels have around 10 times more of the compound in it than the actual pulp of the fruit does. So, if you limit yourself to about half of a banana a day, you should be OK. Only, make sure that you remove all of the strings from it because, technically, those are considered to be a part of the peel not the pulp.

The more you know.

10. Ice Cream

Although I put ice cream here, the reality is anything that's super cold could qualify. And just why are cold foods a migraine-triggering issue? Whenever we eat things that are really cold in temperature, that coldness can trigger the local pain receptors in our sinuses. Also, when we take something cold into our system, the blood vessels at the roof and back of our mouths end up relaxing which can cause the cold to go straight to our head which can cause pain too.

There isn't too much that can be done to avoid this. What I will say is not having ice cream or choosing not to suck on an ice cube right after you've exercised (because your body will be overheated) and not consuming these things too quickly can certainly help.

I know this was hard to take but something tells me that eating these less is certainly better than enduring another migraine. Hey, at least give it a try. This simple "food hack" could do a world of difference in the earth-shattering-headache-known-as-a-migraine department. Let us know.

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Featured image by Shutterstock

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