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Food Triggers and Migraines

There are many different things attributed to causing migraines. Specific foods can trigger or bring on migraines according to many different research studies and articles. Below is a grouping of different kinds of foods that could potentially trigger one to suffer from a migraine. It is not always clear as to why certain foods and not others may be the culprit behind a migraine, but there is an understanding behind others.

Everyone is unique and responds differently to various types of foods and drink each person should keep a journal of which foods they know of that can start or incite a migraine and note potential migraine triggers; alcohol, chocolate, MSG, food dyes, nitrates, sulfites, dairy, sugar substitutes such as aspartame, soy and tyramine 1&2 . Some report caffeine helps while others say it is a potential trigger, again only after recording possible triggers can one say for certain how much of an effect it can have.

Alcohol particularly red wine and beer seem to have more deleterious effects inducing a migraine 1&2 .

MSG is often found in processed foods and some Chinese foods as well. It is important to note what is in the food and to recognize what MSG is. Monosodium Glutamate is what it will usually read as on food labels, at most Chinese restaurants it will say right on the menu if MSG is not used. If you are still not certain ask someone who works there for assistance 1&2 . Soy products including miso soup, bean curd, or tofu. Most soy products are also genetically modified so in order to not consume these make sure to buy Non-GMO labeled soy products. Soy lecithin, found in most ingredients including chocolate is still a soy product- avoid it.

Nitrates and Sulfites are found in processed or cured meats, many times on the food labels such as bacon it will say no nitrates or nitrites. These are important to note even if you don’t suffer from migraines as it is generally healthier 1&2 . Tyramine is found in strong or aged cheeses like blue cheeses or gorgonzola, cured or smoked meats or fish like sausage or salami, some overripe fruit, fava beans or broad beans 3 .

Aspartame is found in Equal and other sugar free food products, which can be found reading the label 1&2 . Often times if the label reads sugar free Aspartame or another sugar substitute is being used instead. Aspartame is a neurotoxin and carcinogen.

Food dyes may include Blue #1, Blue #2, Citrus Red #2, Green #3, Red #3, Red #40, Yellow #5, Yellow #6 and may contribute to triggering migraines 4 .

Keeping track of each possible food trigger item listed above or others specific to you may help to stop a migraine before it starts. Unfortunately life happens and the body may adapt and change as well, if avoiding a certain food used to help prevent a migraine and now no longer does, that can feel like a real setback. Injuries that can occur in a motor vehicle collision or hormonal changes can attribute to some of these setbacks. Social factors or obligations with certain food or drink triggers or not being careful when going out to eat can bring on migraines. Treatment options vary from person to person including but not limited to laying down in a dark quiet place, getting adjusted at the chiropractor or even going to the emergency room at the hospital.

Getting adjusted by a chiropractor can help to reduce migraine intensity and or frequency. The upper cervical spine in the neck is a very unique portion of the body. The skull and brain sit on top of the upper neck. If there is a pressure buildup in the brain, possibly from blood or CSF fluid excess, it can cause headaches. The way the upper neck joints and head connect is through something called the foramen magnum which is latin for “big hole” at the bottom of the skull. When the skull foramen magnum is not perfectly matched up with the upper neck vertebrae known as the atlas, fluid can get backed up into the brain and not fully allow the fluid to move back and forth from the brain to the body.

The atlas vertebra being out of alignment can also cause inflammation into that area which can cause the nerves, muscles and tissues to not work properly. As with inflammation that area of the neck can get red, hot to the touch, swollen and painful. Structural Corrective Chiropractic that we use at Life Force Chiropractic seeks to align the upper neck with the skull, reducing pressure and inflammation being put on the nerves, muscles and tissues of the upper neck. This allows the foramen magnum to have the largest opening available for the brain and body to fully communicate thus giving the best possible chance of helping to reduce intensity, duration or frequency of a migraine.

References:
1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7635722
2. https://americanmigrainefoundation.org/understanding-migraine/diet/
3. http://www.healthline.com/health/tyramine-free-diets
4. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/02/24/are-you-or-your-family-eating-toxic-food-dyes.aspx

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