Migraine? Avoid chocolate, cheese and red wine and you’ll be fine.
How often have you heard those words from a well intentioned friend or relative? If only it were that simple!! Migraine triggers are numerous and varied and occur in combinations almost peculiar to each individual.
Identifying your personal trigger factors can require some detective work and experimentation on your part but the rewards can make it well worth the effort. You may find that minor changes to your diet and/or lifestyle will bring a dramatic improvement to the frequency and severity of your attacks.
The chocolate, cheese and red wine advice is not, however, without foundation. Research has shown that some migraine sufferers have a biochemical defect which affects their body’s final handling of food containing amines, for example tyramine, which is found in cheese, wine and citrus fruits, and phenylethylamine, which is found in chocolate and alcohol. In a survey of over 2,000 sufferers, over three quarters of them had eaten at least one amine-containing food in the 24 hours before an attack.
This defect is probably inherited, as migraine often runs in families. However, it becomes prominent at certain stressful phases of life and, in women, is especially common at menstruation, after childbirth, at the menopause and when taking the contraceptive pill.
Amines are also absorbed more readily when fat is present, which may explain why chocolate and cheese are considered to be such villains and why fried foods and dairy products are so often implicated in migraine attacks.
Common migraine trigger foods include: