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Food and Other Factors That May Trigger Migraine Headaches

Many studies have linked migraines to magnesium deficiency. Not surprisingly, many of the common triggers listed below are also factors that are known to lower magnesium levels.

Mold - I've noticed with my son who gets headaches from mold allergies that many of the same foods people are told to avoid because of mold are many of the same foods that trigger migraine headaches.

Nitrites - My son used to get bad headaches mostly on Mondays, and we eventually realized it was because we would usually go out for brunch on Sunday and he would order bacon that in all probability was preserved with nitrites. For meals at home now I buy nitrite free bacon, which I can find at Safeway, Trader Joe's, and Whole Foods). Now when we go out to eat, he skips the bacon and sausage. For his lunches at school he takes a sack lunch with peanut butter and jelly, cream cheese or nitrite free lunch meat from Whole Foods. Beside helping his headaches, it also helped with his chemical sensitivity.

Food - Some common food triggers for people seem to be:

  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Nitrites - most lunch meat, hot dogs, corn dogs, sausage and bacon.
  • Red wine
  • Monosodium glutamate
  • Cheese
  • Products containing yeast such as bread and rolls

Caffeine - A couple of the people I know who suffer from migraines drink a lot of beverages with caffeine during the day, especially coffee, tea or Coke, and I suspect that is a major trigger for their headaches. Caffeine is known for depleting magnesium levels. Coffee and tea also can give people an acid stomach, another condition that may be linked to migraine headaches.

Stress - Migraines often happen to people whenever they are under a lot of stress.

Menstruation - Many women report migraines right before they get their period.

Loud Noises - My father-in law got a migraine headache when we took him to a crowded children's museum with lots of hands on exhibits. There was a general din that was quite loud everywhere we went. I've had other family members and even a pet guinea pig recover from noise sensitivity just by eating foods high in magnesium. One of my children used to get episodes of noise sensitivity, especially when we were on vacation and he wasn't eating as many fruits and vegetables as he normally does at home. When we were on vacation and loud noises would start to bother him, we would go out to a Mexican restaurant and have him eat a magnesium rich bean burrito and this would help his hearing return to normal.

Allergic Reactions - I've only had one "white out" migraine headache in my life, and that occurred when I used a new shampoo my hair dresser recommended. My vision returned to normal as soon as I washed my hair with a different shampoo.

Caffeine withdrawals - Some people report getting headaches when they stop drinking coffee or other beverages with caffeine.

Insufficient Helpful Bacteria in Your Gut - read an interesting article from Aetna's InteliHealth Inc. site - "...friendly bacteria Lactobacillus seemed to work even better, leaving most people migraine-free for a year and lessening the intensity and frequency of recurring headaches in the others, the lead researcher said."

Family History - While migraine headaches do tend to run in families, I think a part of this may be because families tend to eat similar food. In my experience migraines can be mitigated quite a bit by diet and alternative treatments such as trigger point therapy. My husband's parents both suffer from migraine headaches, and he used to get them when he was younger. But he has not had any in over 20 years. I think this is because he eats a very different diet now that he is married to me than he ate when he was younger. We make it a point to eat a lot of magnesium rich foods, especially a lot of vegetables. He also does take probiotics as needed for optimum intestinal bacteria, as noted below.




Related sections of interest:

Magnesium's Link to Migraine Headaches

What Really Causes Migraines? What Ties Seemingly Unrelated Symptoms?

Treatment of Menstrual Migraine Headaches

Food and Other Migraine Triggers

Overlooked Headache Causes and Treatments

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