Anyone who has ever felt the excruciating pain of migraines knows they are not like any other headaches. I should know: I battled raging migraines for many years after a serious car accident and the resulting injuries. Nausea, knifing pain in one eye, inability to tolerate light and debilitating pain are just some of the symptoms of migraines.
Researchers of the University of Cincinatti College of Medicine pored through over 180 studies to determine the role that diet plays in migraines. They found that diet definitively affected migraines in numerous ways.
Shun MSG: First, the researchers found that monosodium glutamate (MSG) is a migraine headache trigger, something that holistic nutritionists have been telling their clients for years. MSG is found in many common foods including soup (MSG is found in most soup bases and bouillion powder, even if the cook swears the soup is MSG-free), spice mixes, infant formula, baby food, soy “meat” products, bottled sauces and salad dressings, salad croutons, protein powder and many vaccines.
Nix Nitrites: The researchers also found that nitrites trigger migraine headaches. Nitrites are synthetic preservatives found in most processed meat products, including: bacon, sausage, ham, deli slices, and others. Fortunately, avoiding nitrites is as easy as reading the label and avoiding foods that contain this additive. There are companies that make bacon, sausage, deli meats and other meat products without adding this unnecessary ingredient so it’s easy to make the switch; however processed meats are linked to premature death, so you may want to forego them altogether.
Stick to Your Caffeine Schedule: Researchers found that caffeine withdrawal is a major factor in migraine headaches. Let’s say you drink a cup of coffee first thing in the morning most days but then the weekend comes along and you sleep in and don’t get your coffee until noon. Your body may go into caffeine withdrawal, which often includes a full-blown migraine that might last the whole day or longer. To avoid caffeine withdrawal migraines, try to keep the same schedule from one day to the next. If you are trying to cut back on caffeine, continue to drink a slightly lesser amount at the same time each day rather than cut it out altogether.
Avoid More than 3 Cups of Coffee per Day: Researchers found that large amounts of caffeine is another migraine trigger. In their study, they found that over 400 mg of coffee triggered anxiety, depressive symptoms and migraines. Each coffee typically contains about 125 mg of caffeine, so limit yourself to three per day. Keep in mind that some brands of coffee can contain much more than that so you’ll want to check the amount in the type you drink.
Avoid Alcohol: The researchers also found that alcohol, especially red wine, is a trigger for migraines. While organic vs. non-organic wines were not tested for their effects on migraines, the sad reality is that many vineyards growing grapes for non-organic wines also tend to use chemical pesticides and fertilizers that may play a role. We’ll have to wait for further testing in this area.
Swap Fats for Relief: The researchers also found that when omega-6s were decreased in the diet in favor of increasing Omega-3s, people experienced fewer migraines. Omega-6 fatty acids are prevalent in safflower, canola, corn and sunflower oils and foods made with them. Omega-3s are found in flaxseeds and flaxseed oil, walnuts, walnut oil and hempseed oil.
Of course, there are many other migraine triggers, many of which vary from one individual to another. The ones listed above are the primary, research-identified triggers.
(under the courtesy of care2.com)