Top Five Causes of Headaches

Foods that Can Trigger Headache Symptoms

The pain of a typical headache is something most people have experienced at some time in their lives, but the pain associated with a “typical” headache can be anything but typical. Dr. Matthew Milestone of The Migraine Center of NJ in Bergen County, NJ says that a mild sensitivity to bright light might be all the symptom some people experience as opposed to migraine sufferers who may need to retreat into dark silence to ease their pain.

People who suffer from frequent headaches should always and immediately consult with their physician about the physical causes of any pain above the neck, but the casual annoyance of an everyday headache may be avoided simply by avoiding eating certain foods.

Five headache triggers you eat

Cheese—especially aged cheese; the good stuff. Tyramine is the culprit. Dr. Milestone mentions that Tyramine is a naturally occurring compound in cheese that has shown an association with the onset of migraine headaches. WebMD recommends avoiding these specific types of cheeses:

  • Blue cheese
  • Brie
  • Cheddar
  • Stilton
  • Feta
  • Gorgonzola
  • Mozzarella
  • Muenster
  • Parmesan
  • Swiss
  • Processed cheese

Alcohol—the “day after” notwithstanding, alcohol contains chemical compounds that may be a factor in triggering migraine headaches during consumption. Tyramine and sulfites in wine are known migraine triggers. Alcohol also increases blood flow to the brain and causes dehydration, two other common headache causes.

Deli meats—the salami, bologna, sausages, and hot dogs that we love so much are all processed meats. Processed meats are, well, processed with salt, flavorings, and preservatives. One Migraine Center of NJ associate mentions sodium nitrites, a naturally occurring preservative that is added to processed meats, which are suspected to trigger headaches in some people. Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is another suspected headache trigger found in food.

Caffeine—a stimulant that can bring on a headache from overconsumption, or in some cases, after a cessation of consumption. Coffee, tea, and chocolate are commonly known sources of caffeine, but caffeine can sneak into your diet in subtler ways. Most cola-flavored soft drinks contain caffeine, but so do many citrus-flavored pops (we’re looking at you, Mountain Dew). Be sure you know what is in your drink before making it a part of your headache-avoidance strategy.

Ice Cream—ah, the familiar “brain freeze.” A fond memory of refreshing treats on a summer afternoon is now an adult annoyance that needs to avoided at all costs. There are entire theories on the correct way to eat ice cream/water ice/ sno cones which obviates the risk of brain freeze, but for some folks, a silly brain freeze headache can be a migraine trigger that may cause disabling discomfort.

Bonus Headache Trigger

Nothing—well, by definition this is NOT eating something, but not eating something can be a headache trigger. We’ve all felt “hangry” at some time (more so these days, probably, now that we have a word for it) and there’s a reason for this biophysical reaction to a lack of sustenance. According to WebMD:

“Studies show skipping meals and fasting are migraine triggers in about half of the people who have migraines. Skipping meals can cause a drop in blood sugar that may trigger a migraine. Eating balanced meals throughout the day will help keep your blood sugar on an even keel and may help keep migraines at bay. Aim for meals and snacks that pair a protein with a complex carbohydrate (also called low-glycemic index carbohydrates), such as peanut butter on whole-grain bread.”

Remember, the pain of a typical headache is something which most people have experienced at some time in their lives, but the pain associated with a “typical” headache can be anything but typical. If you’re experiencing painful, annoying headaches that hinder your ability to work, sleep, or perform everyday activities, contact Dr. Matthew Milestone and the experts at The Migraine Center of NJ in Bergen County, NJ at 201-845-8411 today!

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