Years ago, I suffered from seriously awful migraines. (Is there any other kind?)
I became aware of the cause and effect that food can have. After I eliminated the foods that triggered my migraines, they became much less severe and much less frequent. Over the years since, I have continued to eliminate more “trigger” foods as I suspected them.
So, how do foods cause migraines and other pain?
Some foods can cause inflammation (irritation and swelling.) Inflammation in your tissues causes muscle aches and pains. In your blood vessels, inflammation can cause a migraine.
Food can also cause an allergic reaction. Some of us have serious allergic reactions which can put us in danger. When we discover such an allergy, for instance to peanuts, of course we stay away from peanuts.
We must also stay away from the foods that “trigger” our headaches or migraines.
Sometimes we can identify a “trigger” food. If a food causes a symptom like a stuffy nose, or headache, or lots of mucus (causing throat clearing,) that’s a clue. The reaction might occur very soon after eating something, but sometimes the head pain won’t come for a while. That makes it harder to figure out.
You might have a lot of food triggers or you might only have some of the more common ones.
Sometimes it isn’t actually the food–it is chemicals and other ingredients that are added to the food. MSG is a common additive which causes stuffy noses, migraines and headaches. Artificial sweeteners also are common migraine triggers.
You might not realize that what you are eating is actually causing a large part of your head pain. It helps to keep a log and look for tie-ins.
For instance, I had a friend who would always get a migraine within about half an hour of eating an orange. After she saw the connection, she stopped eating oranges. It was easy for her to know the cause of her migraine, because it came so quickly after the orange.
A few of the more common food triggers are:
- aged cheese
- citrus fruit
- nuts, especially pistachios
There are lots more than this. And, not everyone gets a headache from the same foods. I’ve seen fruits on lists of migraine triggers that I ate frequently which never caused a migraine for me.
Sometimes you can get away with eating small amounts of a food, like nuts, as long as you don’t do it too often. Sometimes, you won’t be able to eat any at all.
You might remember the good old days when sugar was in your soda pop, gum, cereals and ice cream. Read the labels now, and chances are really good you will find high fructose corn syrup and artificial sweeteners, instead.
You have to read labels to find out what ingredients besides the ones you expected are being fed to you.
There are many causes for migraines and headaches. Muscles and soft tissues are related to most headaches but food, food additives, hormones, posture, sleeping and work habits also play a part.
And, as you see, lots of times your headache or migraine starts with what you put in your mouth.