There's nothing that can make you more miserable than when you start to see lights flashing in front of your eyes, feel lightheaded, and get a funny feeling creeping up from your neck to your entire head. It's a terrible migraine, a condition that affects millions of people, but occurs 3 times more frequently in women, according to the National Headache Foundation (NHF).
Although there are no accurate estimates on the percentage of headaches caused by diet, there is a link between migraines and certain foods, such as cured cheeses, alcoholic beverages (especially red wine ), and pickled foods.
There are also studies that indicate a certain increase in pain when avocados, raspberries and bananas are consumed. Unfortunately, avoiding these foods doesn't cure migraines, which are often the result of a complex combination of risk factors.
The American Academy of Family Physicians presents an extensive list of foods that can trigger migraines. They are:
- Red meats, pepperoni, sausages, mortadella and herring
- Matured cheeses
- Red wine
- Avocados, nuts, peanut butter
- Legumes such as green beans, broad beans, beans, white beans, pinto beans and garbanzos.
- Donuts and sourdough bread
- Excessive caffeine
- Large quantities of onion
- Passion fruit
- Red plums
- Soy sauce
- Chicken liver
The NHF emphasizes that trigger foods don't necessarily cause headaches in all patients, but that some foods occasionally cause attacks in some individuals.
Migraines are related to the presence of certain amines that naturally occur in food. These substances contain nitrogen and are generally found in animals, plants and bacteria, and many of them contribute the characteristic flavor and aroma of foods.
Among the amines found in food, thyramine, phenethylamine and histamine are known for their effects on migraines. Apparently, people who develop migraines can't metabolize these substances fast enough; therefore, they stay in the body longer, provoking migranes.
If you suffer from frequent and severe migraines, it is a good idea to keep a journal for a few months logging everything you ate, what you were doing, and where you were when your migraine occurred.
This could help you determine what types of activities, sensations, situations and foods seem to be linked as triggers to your migraines. And of course, limit the use of products that you relate with migraines.
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