Migraine headaches are extremely painful, and it’s often difficult to determine the trigger of the pain.
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Stress could be a contributing factor, but migraines can also be brought on or made worse by what you eat. If you are prone to migraines, these five easy changes in your diet just might save you a lot of headaches.
1. Limit Alcohol Consumption
Alcohol opens up your capillaries and increases blood flow throughout the body, which is why it can leave you with a warm feeling. However, it also increases blood flow to your brain, and that can cause migraines.
Although there hasn’t been much in-depth research on dietary causes of headaches, the amount of anecdotal evidence in the case of alcohol is overwhelming enough to convince most medical professionals. If you often experience migraines when drinking alcohol, reduce the amount you drink until you find that the headaches are no longer a problem.
2. Be Careful With Cold Foods
Most people have experienced a brain freeze or ice cream headache at some point in their lives, but the pain can be far worse for those who suffer from migraines. Cold food is more likely to cause a painful reaction when you have an elevated body temperature, such as from a fever, vigorous exercise or high ambient temperature.
Although these headaches usually last only a few minutes, they can often be easily avoided. Just give yourself some time to cool off before digging into that frozen treat.
3. Monitor Your Reaction To Caffeine
For some people, caffeine can help mitigate the pain of a migraine by improving the body’s ability to absorb pain medication. However, excessive caffeine intake can actually cause headaches.
Pay close attention to your daily caffeine consumption and see if your migraines often occur on days when you’ve had a few extra cups of coffee. If you do spot a correlation, try reducing your caffeine intake, ideally to around 200 milligrams a day, which is roughly four cans of soda or one cup of coffee.
However, be aware that caffeine is mildly addictive, so quitting cold turkey can cause symptoms such as irritability, fatigue and what’s known as a rebound headache.
4. Avoid Tyramine
Tyramine is formed when the protein in food breaks down over time, and it may be a contributing factor in developing a migraine. Experts disagree on how tyramine causes headaches, or if it does at all, but there is some evidence to support the theory.
It may be beneficial to limit your consumption of foods high in tyramine, which include aged cheese, pork, avocados, dried fruit, nuts and beans. Tyramine is also found in red wine, which, combined with its alcohol content, makes it a commonly cited source of migraines.
5. Eat And Drink Regularly
One of the most common causes of headaches is dehydration, so make sure to drink plenty of fluids throughout the day. The Institute of Medicine recommends three liters per day for men and 2.2 liters per day for women.
Skipping meals or otherwise going long periods without food can also trigger headaches. If you know you’ll be going five hours or more between meals, bring along a healthy snack to help limit your risk of developing a migraine.
These methods can help prevent migraines and there are other risks of which you should be aware. People who experience frequent migraines are more likely to suffer from a heart attack or stroke. Although migraines may not cause these problems, you should focus on mitigating other risk factors, such as cholesterol, blood pressure and body weight.
You may not be able to cure your migraines, but by watching what you eat and drink, you can minimize the impact they have on your life.