Any number of triggers can bring on a migraine, including such different factors as drinking alcohol, experiencing a change in the weather, and not getting enough sleep. Now one researcher has determined that these common migraine triggers and a host of others can produce oxidative stress in the brain. Such stress is marked by a build-up of damaging molecules called free radicals and can lead to pain. In a study published recently in Headache, Jonathan Borkum, PhD, of the University of Maine’s Department of Psychology, evaluated 2,000 studies about migraine triggers published between 1990 and 2014 and found that nearly all common migraine triggers are capable of generating oxidative stress. Based on those findings, he stated he believes oxidative stress can be a unifying principle behind the types of triggers countless migraineurs experience.

A new study indicates being overweight may increase the risk of episodic migraine in many individuals. In this study about weight and migraine, B. Lee Peterlin, DO, of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, led a cross-sectional analysis of almost 4,000 participants in the National Comorbidity Survey Replicated. They found that obesity increased the odds of developing episodic migraine (migraine 14 or fewer days per month) by 81 %, and increased the odds of lower frequency episodic migraine by 83 to 89%.  Additionally, they found the link between obesity and episodic migraine was highest in those under 50, white individuals and women.

The first step in the nutritional management of diet-triggered headaches is eating a well-balanced diet. It is especially important to eat three meals a day with a snack at night or 6 small meals spread through out the day.  You should include a good protein source at each meal/snack (i.e. milk, meat, fish) and should avoid eating high sugar foods by themselves, especially when excessively hungry. These actions will help to prevent the "hunger headache." If you are taking an MAOI drug (i.e Nardil, Parmate) you need to follow a low-tyramine diet.

Caffeine and anti-inflammatories may be the best cure for a hangover-induced headache, particularly for migraineurs whose headaches are triggered by low doses of alcohol. Professor Michael Oshinsky, of the Jefferson Headache Center at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, induced headaches in rodents by injecting them with small doses of ethanol (about the equivalent of one alcoholic drink in humans). Like alcoholic drinks, ethanol produces acetate in the body when it is metabolized.

Drinking alcohol or caffeine, smoking and a lack of exercise are bad for adolescents for yet another reason—they're all implicated in higher rates of migraine and tension-type headache. According to a German study of 1,260 high school students, the prevalence of any type of headache increased in those who drank cocktails or coffee or were less physically active. High consumption of cocktails increased the odds the most—by three and a half times—while increasing intake of fluids did not lessen the impact. Surprisingly, neither skipping meals nor dehydration were associated with headache.

While a headache after a night of drinking may be fairly common for the general public, new studies indicate that hangovers may be more prevalent in migraine sufferers. Researchers at the Jefferson Headache Center developed a model to study the effects of alcohol on rats who suffer recurrent migraines, compared to rats that do not get headaches. The results, which were presented at Neuroscience 2009, the Annual Meeting of the Society for Neuroscience, in Chicago, are quite fascinating.