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Are you a migraine sufferer? So am I. Read my migraine story and tips here

Do you suffer from migraines?

I have been talking about migraines a lot. My first migraine attack started just months after my first husband passed away.  Coming back from work on a very sunny day I felt like puking. I had no one to share or to care for me at that time. Or perhaps I thought I didn’t.

 

I came home took a few pain killers and a nap. Hours later the headache was still there but I had a task to make dinner for my inlaws who I was living with back then. Yes, even if their son died I still lived with them in the same house since the day I got married. It’s nothing new, the culture is different.

My Story with migraines

Then I moved to Ireland. I can’t remember having it as regular but it was there. I thoughts it was because of the heating system in the workplace.

A few years later when I was pregnant with my fourth child it just became a weekly thing and it would last 3 to hours day.

I had a scan was done which shows all if ”fine”.  Doctors kept prescribing me pain killers to manage the pain but no one suggested anything else. I was frustrated with ”managing the pain” I wanted to be in no pain. I was controlling everyone around me with my pain.

My husband and I would go out on a date but within an hour we had to get back home because of my migraine.

He would go to work in the morning with a goodbye and these words ” let me know if you are ok during the day’. Most days he would come home and mind the kids while I take a rest in the dark room. No screens, no books, just close your eyes with excruciating pain!

I went on to study Health and Nutrition

Not everyone gets migraines, but you probably know someone who does. It’s estimated that 15% of adults get these debilitating headaches.

Thankfully I was bold enough to go and study about health and nutrition to figure out what exactly was happening with me. I met a good old friend through college who helped me with my health.

Few things we worked on pointed was:

  • Stress and other emotions
  •  hormonal health:  histamine, oestrogen, Serotonin, dopamine
  • My sleep
  • Nutrient deficiency
  • Climate/weather
  • Certain foods and drinks

It took time and effort to work on different areas of my life to really get to the root cause of my migraines. It’s a work in progress and as much as I would love to never have it again, it does come every few months especially if I am under stress and lack of sleep. So I do make sure to manage these two.

 

What to Avoid if You Get Migraines

 

Migraine headaches can be terrible. The pain, vision problems, nausea, etc. can be debilitating; especially if they stick around for hours or even days like in my case.

And, while the exact cause is not known, there are lots of known triggers. Many foods and drinks are common triggers of migraines. You may have noticed certain foods, and drinks trigger your migraines.

 

Unfortunately, the obvious one for me was red wine.  Sometimes the migraine comes on within an hour of the food/drink. Other times it may happen several hours, up to a day later.

Avoiding these triggers can help:

 

One of the main ways these foods and drinks trigger migraines is by their action on the blood vessels in the brain. When the brain’s blood vessels constrict and then dilate (widen), this seems to cause migraines.

Many of the foods I’m listing below affect the constriction and dilation of blood vessels during a migraine

 

If you suffer from migraines, this post lists common triggers. Avoiding these can be a great tool to reduce these uber-painful headaches. You may be sensitive to one, or many of these foods and drinks. They act as migraine triggers in some people, but not all. You can find out by eliminating them and see if avoidance helps you.

 

Foods to avoid if you get migraines

The first food that commonly triggers migraines is hard cheese like cheddar and Swiss; this is because they contain “tyramine” which is from an amino acid in the protein found in cheese. Other foods high in tyramine include those that are aged, cured, dried, smoked or pickled. These include sauerkraut and tofu.

 

The second common migraine-triggering foods are cured or processed meats. Things like hot dogs, lunch meats, and bacon are in this category; this is because of their nitrates and nitrites that can dilate those blood vessels in the brain. Even if these are not a trigger for you, it’s best to eliminate them from your diet because of other health issues they’re associated with like colon cancer.

 

I wish I had better news, but the third common migraine triggering food is chocolate. The evidence is conflicting, as some studies show a link and others don’t. You may or may not be sensitive to chocolate’s effects on the brain; you have to eliminate it to find out.

Some say eat real as in dark chocolate as it’s loaded with magnesium and it’s one of the many nutrients keys to a pain-free life.  As magnesium relaxes the muscles and aids with stress and tension.

As we know that everybody physiological needs are different, I would suggest experimenting with chocolate and see if this is a trigger for you.

Artificial flavours like monosodium glutamate (MSG) also trigger migraines. MSG is often found in Chinese food and is a common migraine trigger. There is not a lot of research on this, but it’s something to consider eliminating from your diet to see if it makes a difference.

Drinks to avoid if you get migraines

Alcohol is a common trigger for headaches and migraines. Red wine and beer seem to be the most common culprits. We’re not sure why, but it may be red wine’s compounds such as histamine, sulfites, or flavonoids.

 

Did you know that there are now making sulfite-free wine? Yay!!

 

Artificial sweeteners like Aspartame are another common trigger. Aspartame is in fizzy drinks and other processed foods to make them taste sweet without adding sugar.

Conclusion

There is much common food and drink triggers for migraines. Maybe one, or more of these trigger migraines for you. The best way to know is by eliminating them from your diet for a few weeks and see how that works.

 

The list includes hard cheeses, processed meats, chocolate, alcohol, ice water, and artificial flavours and sweeteners.

 

Do any of these trigger migraines for you (or someone you care about)? Let me know in the comments below.

 

References:

https://authoritynutrition.com/9-common-migraine-triggers

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27714637

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/elimination-diet-infographic

https://examine.com/nutrition/scientists-just-found-that-red-meat-causes-cancer–or-did-they/

https://examine.com/nutrition/does-aspartame-cause-headaches/

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