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Diet Can Influence Headache

For some people living with headache disease or migraine disorder, dietary choices may cause headache. Certain foods do not necessarily trigger headache, but NHF online survey data suggests that diet causes at least 30 percent of all migraine attacks.

Tyramine, a vaso-active amino acid found in foods, is one of the dietary triggers that has been found to cause headache. Tyramine occurs naturally in certain foods, but increases when they are aged, fermented, stored for long periods of time, or are not fresh.

Some foods that contain high levels of tyramine are:

  • Red wines and most alcoholic beverages
  • Aged cheeses and processed meats (including pizza and hot dogs)
  • Peanuts
  • Chicken livers
  • Pickled foods
  • Sourdough bread
  • Bread and crackers containing cheese
  • Broad beans, peas, lentils.

Sufferers who believe that tyramine triggers their headaches can try a Low Tyramine Diet to determine which foods on the list might be causing their headaches.

Food additives, or substances added to food to preserve flavor or enhance appearance, can also trigger headache. Examples of foods that contain additives:

  • Processed meats
  • Foods that contain yellow (annatto) food coloring,
  • Canned or processed foods
  • Some Chinese foods
  • Tenderizer
  • Soy sauce

The NHF suggests tracking what triggers your headache by keeping a diary of the foods you eat. You should see if eliminating these foods from your diet one at a time reduces the frequency of your headache attacks.

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