I have had a hard go, of it, with certain foods, and migraines. I had my first migraine in First Grade, but after a full year of migraines, tonsil and adenoidectomy, allergy testing and three different eye exams, they finally figured out I needed glasses, which I got in Second Grade. I was amazed that I could actually see every leaf on the trees! The migraines did get better after that.
Then I started having debilitating migraines, in 1983. At that time I was puzzled about where they were coming from, and my doctor was no help, with finding a cause. Years later, I figured out that they were from several things . . . toxic furniture refinishing chemicals, household cleaning supplies, perfumes, MSG (Monosodium Glutamate) and artificial sweeteners. I stopped using all artificial sweeteners, and as I became more acutely aware, of how many foods contained MSG, I began to check labels more diligently, and realized that I was inadvertently getting foods with MSG. Autolyzed yeast extract is another name for MSG, as is disodium inosinate and disodium guanylate.
I used to feel safe with Campbell’s cream soups, as I had checked the labels. However, one day I had a severe migraine and went to check labels of everything I had eaten, and there it was in the Cream of Mushroom soup. I was shocked, then checked all Campbell’s soups and it was in ALL of them. Aarrggghhh!!! “New and Improved” . . . to save money!!! Not Nice!!! Now they have the “Healthy Request” and another one, which cost more and don’t have MSG, but have other chemicals that aren’t really safe. So, I don’t use them anymore. I make my own gravies and sauces. I have pretty much gone to cooking from scratch, and I have had a lot fewer migraines.
Some of the foods, that I have eliminated from my diet, because they cause migraines as well as joint and muscle aches, are: all wines (natural sulfites), alcohol (including beer), nitrates, nitrites (found in deli meats and most sauerkraut), MSG (of course), all “night shade vegetables (which are notorious for causing migraines, as well as joint and muscle aches). The four night shade vegetables are: potatoes, tomatoes, peppers and eggplant. As I have already mentioned, all artificial sweeteners can cause migraines, as well. It took me three years to convince my son-in-law to cut out his diet tea, because he was having severe migraines. He finally agreed to a two week trial and was surprised to see that the migraines disappeared. Now he is a total advocate against artificial sweeteners.
In addition to all those foods, people may or may not suffer from Celiacs Disease, and find that they have body aches, fatigue and migraines caused by gluten, which can include wheat (including varieties like spelt, kamut, farro and durum; and products like bulgur and semolina), barley and rye. Generally speaking the gluten in rice and corn do not cause problems.
Grains that are considered “Gluten Free”, and therefore generally considered safe for those sensitive to gluten, are: Amaranth, Buckwheat, Corn, Millet, Quinoa, Rice, Sorghum, Teff and Wild Rice.
Some other foods, that can trigger migraines contain Tyramines:
Avocados, bananas, beef liver, blue cheese, cold cuts, canned soups, cheddar cheese, chicken livers, dates, dried figs, Fava beans, Garbanzo beans, Lima beans, nuts, olives, onions peanut butter, pinto beans, raisins, raspberries, red plums, sauerkraut, soy sauce tofu, soy beans, fermented foods like beer, yeast and yeast extracts.
And if that isn’t enough, dairy products (some of which have already been mentioned), can trigger migraines. I have learned, that for me, “raw/organic” dairy products don’t cause a problem. However, if I eat yellow and/or molded cheeses (like blue cheese), I get a migraine the next day. So I avoid those. The list of dairy foods to avoid, include: Milk, ice cream, yogurt, sour cream and cheese.
A good course, of action, for someone who suffers from migraines, for which they do not know the cause, is to eliminate the above listed foods, from your diet, for a period of time, and then slowly add them back one at a time, while eating foods in the same food group, and then not eating these foods for four days. A program, for doing this is called a “Rotation Diet”. This diet will help to rule out food allergens, and also help you to add them back into the diet (on a limited basis), over an extended period of time.
This is by no means a definitive list. And another cause, of migraines to consider, is Lyme Disease. About twenty six years ago, I was repeatedly bit by mosquitos, when camping in the Pocono Mountains, in Pennsylvania. This is an area, of the Mid Atlantic States, where Lyme Disease is endemic. Not a lot was known about Lyme Disease, at that time. But, I believe, at that time I contracted Lyme Disease. However, I was young and healthy and my immune system was strong, back in the mid 80’s. So, the Lyme remained dormant.
Around the year 2000, my migraines started getting a lot worse. Around that same time, my immune system was weakened, and I became sick, with several different infections, one of which was Lyme Disease. I believe the Lyme had remained dormant, and when my immune system became weak, the Lyme began to cause health issues. One of the many symptoms, of Lyme Disease is migraines, which is why Lyme is something to consider with migraines.
To learn more about Lyme Disease you can check out my blog post, on Lyme Disease at: http://www.blueprintforholistichealth.com/category/lyme-disease/
Some other causes of migraines, not addressed here, could be: stress/tension, head trauma, neck strain, sleeping on the wrong pillow, hormone changes, eye strain, airborne allergies, mold, candida infection, sinus infection, chemical exposure, MCS or Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (which is sensitivity to toxic, carbon based chemicals, including fragrances, cleaning chemicals, pesticides, herbicides, formaldehyde, paint, wet cement, sheet rock and other construction materials, scented laundry products and personal care products, like hair spray, deodorant, lotion, etc.), and withdrawal from painkillers, caffein or nicotine or other drugs. The list, of causes, is very long, and I am sure that this list is not complete, but should give you an idea, of other places, that you can start looking for causes of your migraines.
Worthy of note, here, is the debate, that migraines can cause seizures and/or seizures can cause migraines. I believe there is valid discussion on both sides, of the coin. If there is any suspicion that seizures are involved, the patient should be examined by a Neurologist, to rule out dangerous brain wave activity.
The information, herein, has not been evaluated by the United States Food and Drug Administration and is not approved to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease. The information, posted here, is the opinion of the author, is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for advice from your physician or other health care professional. You should not use the information on this site for diagnosis or treatment of any health problem or for prescription of any medication or other treatment. You should consult with a health care professional before starting any diet, exercise or supplementation program, before taking any medication, or if you have or suspect you might have a health problem.