6 Foods That Can Trigger Migraines

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Updated: September 05, 2023
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6 Foods That Can Trigger Migraines


Migraine is a primary headache disorder causing recurrent headaches ranging in intensity from moderate to severe. Migraines usually cause a throbbing pain lasting from four hours to three days and typically start on one side of the head. Sometimes, they remain on one side; other times, they spread to both sides. This headache disorder is often accompanied by nausea, sensitivity to light and sound, and vomiting.


Migraines can affect many areas of a person's life and day-to-day activities. As mentioned earlier, migraines can cause you to become sensitive to light and noise. This symptom may hinder you from carrying out activities during the day. Sometimes, the pain can be so severe that you cannot do anything, making you unable to work.


Migraines also affect how you feel about people and interact with them. The most important people in your life may become significantly impacted by the behavioral changes triggered by this headache disorder. For instance, if you have migraines, you may miss hanging out or partaking in family and social activities, affecting your relationship with loved ones. It would be best if you avoided the below triggers for migraine relief.


The causes of migraines are unknown, as scientists are still trying to figure them out. Therefore, there isn't a cure for the disorder. This means that people who suffer from this disorder may have to deal with it for a lifetime. However, some medications can help you with migraine relief. In addition to medication, you may also have to avoid some foods as they may trigger migraines. Below is a list of foods you must avoid if you suffer from migraines.





Wine is among the most popular drinks and a choice after a long day. However, wine, particularly red wine, is one of the triggers of migraines. According to scientists, wine and alcohol play a role in about 30 percent of migraine attacks. The reason why this is the case is yet to be determined. However, Experts at Mount Sinai Hospital in the US wrote a paper suggesting that the compounds found in wine, like flavonoids and tannins, may trigger this kind of headache. Therefore, the wiser thing to do is to avoid wine and possibly other alcoholic drinks if you suffer from migraines.




Researchers have found that reducing your coffee consumption can improve migraine treatment. This happens because caffeine in coffee activates certain receptors in the brain that cause migraine attacks. Additionally, coffee tends to dehydrate the body. By doing so, it contributes to the onset of migraines. Note that this does not mean you must stop taking caffeine entirely. You can reduce your intake by taking less than two cups per day. However, if you still experience headaches, it would help to stop taking coffee completely.


Processed Meat


Processed meat is one of the most popular types in the market. It is used in popular meals like hot dogs and burgers. However, if you suffer from migraines, you may want to avoid these meats. They usually contain excess calories, fat, and sodium. Scientific evidence shows that these components found in processed meats can trigger migraine headaches.


Aged Cheese


Cheese is a popular food, especially among Americans. While it is delicious, especially when added to other foods, it is not a wise choice for migraines. Aged cheeses like cheddar are directly linked to the onset of migraine headaches, although the reason behind this is yet to be determined. However, a few researchers believe that a compound in aged cheese known as tyramine interacts with neurotransmitters in the brain, causing migraines.


Citrus Fruits


Eating fresh fruits is an excellent help for avoiding migraines and improving your overall health. However, this differs with citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruits. These fruits can promote the onset of migraines. A study showed that one out of five people got migraines after eating excessive citrus fruits. The reason is yet to be determined.


Artificial Sweeteners


Artificial sweeteners like aspartame, found in sodas, also trigger migraines. Artificial sweeteners are usually found in breakfast cereals, puddings, gelatins, packaged foods, and a wide range of drinks. Researchers have yet to pinpoint the link between these sweeteners and migraines. Regardless, if you suffer from migraines, the wisest thing to do is avoid foods with artificial sweeteners, especially aspartame.




Several other foods have been linked to the onset of migraines. These foods include chocolate, tomatoes, foods with yeast, baking powder or soda, dairy products, and nuts. Therefore, if you have a history of migraines, the best thing to do is contact a healthcare professional for advice. The professional will help you find medical ways to relieve the headaches and advise you on the foods to avoid. While avoiding these foods may not cure the condition, it may help keep the attacks minimal.