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Last Updated: Jan 10, 2023

All The Foods That Trigger Or Alleviate Migraine!

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Dt. Neha NandwaniDietitian/Nutritionist • 5 Years Exp.Diploma In Dietetics, Health & Nutrition (DDHN), ISSA - Sports Nutritionist, Diabetic counselor
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Migraine, the extreme headache that comes back to haunt its victims every chance it gets, can actually be managed with a controlled diet. Of course, medication is the solution, and so is surgery with botulinum toxin in extreme chronic cases. But let’s try lifestyle changes before going for any of that.

Symptoms of Migraine:

Pain on the sides of the head is the characteristic symptoms of migraine, but there are others:

  1. A throbbing sensation in the head.

  2. Nausea from constant pain.

  3. Photosensitivity.

  4. More than the usual aversion to loud noises.

Sweating, stomachache, and diarrhea rarely come with the more common symptoms of migraines, as stated above.

Causes of Migraine:

Migraine is often genetic. Pain triggers include:

  1. Hormonal changes, as in during menstruation or pregnancy or puberty.

  2. Emotional disturbances like anxiety, depression, shock, or even excitement.

  3. Poor posture that puts stress on the neck or head.

  4. Tiredness or lack of sleep.

  5. Side-effects of medication such as sleeping pills, some contraceptive pills, and medication for hormone replacement therapy.

  6. External triggers like second-hand smoke, loud noises, very bright lights, lack of oxygen in a poorly ventilated room, dust, any strong smell.

Food Triggers -

Foods that trigger migraines include:

  1. Aged cheese with high tyramine: Blue cheese, cheddar, feta, mozzarella, brie, parmesan, gorgonzola, English stilton, Swiss cheese,

  2. Alcohol: Red wine, scotch, champagne, beer, and vodka trigger migraine by dehydrating the body and/or due to the sulfite preservative in them.

  3. Food preservatives: Nitrite or nitrate compounds in preserved foods like ham, sausages, hotdogs, bacon, pepperoni, and deli meat.

  4. MSG: Monosodium glutamate in soy sauce or anything labeled “hydrolyzed” is a trigger.

  5. Sourdough: Baked yeast products like bread, rolls, donuts, and cakes.

  6. Nuts: Peanuts, peanut butter, dried fruits, and some seeds and nuts trigger migraine in not all but some people.

  7. Smoked or Dried Fish

  8. Tomatoes

  9. Onions

  10. Citrus Fruits: Like lemon, orange, grapefruit, Greek citron, etc.

  11. Beans: Like lima, fava, pinto, snow peas, lentils, pole, and broad beans.

  12. Caffeine: Anything more than 200mg of caffeine can trigger migraines.

  13. Artificial sweeteners: Due to aspartame or sucralose content.

  14. Chocolate: Due to beta-phenylethylamine

Avoiding these food items can alleviate symptoms of migraine. This is why one should avoid these foods in their diet. However, it is advisable to consult a Dietician or Nutritionist before avoiding or taking any food item.

Foods Which Help to Cure Migraine -

The elimination of diet tactics is not enough to manage migraines. There are foods that must be included in the diet. They are:

  1. Salmon: For the vitamins, and omega 3 fatty acids that reduce inflammation and blood pressure.

  2. Dark chocolate: Due to the magnesium content.

  3. Fresh figs: Due to potassium and electrolytes. Avoid dried figs as they contain tyramine.

  4. Shrimp: Due to astaxanthin and vitamins and minerals to help with inflammation.

  5. Carrots: Beta-carotene helps.

  6. Sweet potatoes: Vitamin C, niacin, pantothenic acid, phosphorus, Vitamin B group, manganese, copper, and potassium to the rescue.

  7. Collard Greens

  8. Kale

  9. Quinoa

  10. Ginger

  11. Fresh fruits: Like bananas and apples.

  12. Herbs: Like feverfew, butterbur.


Avoiding trigger foods, having migraines relieving foods, and having plenty of water along with enough sleep and some exercise can manage migraines well enough to not need medication.

In case you have a concern or query you can always consult a specialist & get answers to your questions!

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