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Foods that Aggravate Migraines

Migraines are an ordeal, with symptoms ranging from dizziness to nausea to vomiting. These horrible headaches tend to occur unannounced and may last for up to 72 hours in some cases! Other than the less common triggers such as menstruation, dehydration, exhaustion, etc, knowledge of thefoods that aggravate migraines is important in avoiding their onset.

1. Tyramine

This amino acid (building blocks of proteins) is found in a variety of different foods, and is one of the most common yet unseen migraine aggravator. Fermented and processed cheeses, processed meat, bacon, ham, soy products, olives, pickles, dried food, and even fruits which become over ripe have sufficient amounts of tannin to bring about a migraine. An important aspect to remember with proteins is that the more they age or ferment, the higher their amount of tyramine. Thus, it is advisable for people prone to migraines to avoid eating left-overs as well, especially if they are not stored properly.

2. Tannin

Tannins are plant compounds known to give foods their characteristic harsh cutting taste. They are mostly found in cider, apple juice, tea and citrus fruits such as lemons, pears, apricots, oranges and others. Research into the exact feature that makes tannin a migraine aggravator is still going on, but it has been seen time and again to be a crucial trigger, thus ranking among the foods that aggravate migraines.

3. Alcohol

Alcohol is considered to be a migraine aggravator due to three reasons. Beer, red wine, sherry and vermouth are known to contain tyramine, which has already been mentioned as a potent migraine trigger. Secondly, consuming alcohol also causes dehydration, which also brings on the headache in some people. And thirdly, drinking alcohol increased the flow of blood towards the brain, which could also prompt a migraine.

4. Additives and Synthetics

Foods that aggravate migrainesalso include certain common additives. Monosodium glutamate (MSG), Hydrolyzed vegetable and plant protein (HVP and HPP), yeast (extracts and autolyzed), casein extracts, etc, are among the list. Always check the food labels before buying any item you suspect might contain one of these. Besides having no nutritive advantage whatsoever, some people have also reported that artificial sweeteners such as aspartame migraines can also aggravate migraines.

5. Caffeine

Beverages containing caffeine are known to aggravate as well as suppress migraines. It varies from person to person, and should be consumed or avoided accordingly.

6. Sulfites

Sulfites are found in dried fruits, wine and other processed foods. They are also used as preservatives in certain food items, and might be the hidden cause of your aggravated migraines.

7. Nitrites

Mostly added to foods as a preservative or for extra flavor, nitrites are found in many foods, such as hot dogs, sausages (chicken, turkey and soy), beef jerky, turkey jerky, corned beef, etc. They are also present in smoked, cured, pickled or canned foods. Always check for the presence of nitrites on food labels and order your meals wisely when dining out.  There are many other such ingredients, a list of which is giving below:

Capsaicin found in chili peppers

Cistamine present in bananas

Coumarin, a natural compound in yeast

Choline present in sour cream

Phenylethylamine, tannin, and caffeine in chocolate

Excitotoxins in artificial sweeteners, which excite neurons erratically

For those of you who get migraines frequently and can’t seem to figure out the reason, look out for these hidden ingredients in the foods that aggravate migraines. Buy canned goods and natural produce carefully. For the ingredients that you are in doubt about, hit and trial is the only option. But once you’ve quantified your triggers, life will become so much easier.