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7 Foods That Trigger Headaches and Migraine

Some people experience headaches, but you might not be aware of the foods to watch out for. The World Health Organization says “almost half of adults have experienced a headache within the last year” and they list 10 possible causes including what one would never suspect: food! If your head has been hurting too often lately or it has been over six months since your last pain-free day, keep reading to know what foods trigger headaches and migraines.


Too much caffeine can trigger a headache according to the American Migraine Foundation. Some of the most common reasons people experience headaches are drinking excess caffeine and experiencing withdrawal from it. A healthy amount, though, is said by experts to be able to treat oncoming migraines.


Alcohol is a common trigger for migraine and headache sufferers. The two chemicals, tyramine, and histamine found in alcohol can lead to headaches or migraines as well as other health problems such as stomach ulcers when consumed over long periods of time. Studies have shown that about 1/3 of people who suffer from occasional migraines reported being triggered by drinking red wine, while less than 5% said they experienced triggers with white wines according to the American Migraine Foundation (AMF).

Studies show that 2 chemical compounds called tyramine and histamine are present in alcoholic beverages like beer and especially red wine which may cause some individuals’ frequent bouts of pain. According to AMF research on those who experience regular head-killing.

Artificial sweeteners

Artificial sweeteners are found in many calorie-free drinks. They can trigger migraines by being 200 times sweeter than natural sugar, but aspartame is the most popular artificial sweetener and it’s been shown to increase your risk of headaches if you’re a regular drinker.


Even if you don’t have a migraine, chocolate can be a trigger. Chocolate contains both caffeine and beta-phenylethylamine which may cause headaches in some people according to the American Migraine Foundation. They say it affects an estimated 22% of people who experience migraines after alcohol.

Food has MSG

Monosodium glutamate is a salt that occurs naturally in our bodies, and can also be found in food. It’s considered to be safe for consumption by most people–except those with migraines! In fact, it has been linked as the cause of 18% of all migraine headaches. You might want to consider cutting out MSG from your diet just to make sure you’re not one of them!

Aged cheese

Aged cheese is an interesting, yet risky food. The longer it’s aged, the higher its tyramine content will be. This molecule forms when proteins break down due to aging—and this can lead to a dangerous condition called hypertensive crisis (also known as ‘cheese stroke’). A person with hypertension who eats enough high-tyramin foods might experience symptoms like chest pain and headaches that are very similar in nature to those of a heart attack.

Cured meats

Cured meats like bacon, pepperoni, and deli meat are all high in preservatives. These nitrites can cause headaches by releasing the gas nitric oxide into your blood vessels which causes them to dilate; this release has been shown to trigger a headache for some people when they eat or drink too much of these processed foods.


Headaches and migraines are significant health problems. More than eight in 10 Americans suffer from headaches or migraines at some point in their lifetime, with the most common culprits being stress and tension. The good news is that there are many lifestyle changes you can make to reduce your risk of these painful episodes. Eating healthier foods, getting enough sleep, limiting caffeine intake, managing emotional triggers such as anger or anxiety, practicing relaxation techniques like meditation may all help lessen pain frequency and severity for those who experience chronic headaches or migraines. For more information about mental health and health tips visit our blog posts today!

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