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lizcommotion: four different colored panels of the MRI image of a brain (brain)
[personal profile] lizcommotion posting in [community profile] headache
Note: some of the following links (such as the one to a low-tyramine diet) have rather blindingly white backgrounds, which is somewhat ironic since it's the website of the National Headache Foundation. If such things bother you, you may want to visit the site on a day when you aren't suffering from a number of triggers.

I'm finally trying this whole low-tyramine diet thing my neurologist recommended to help prevent migraines (the effects of tyramine on migraines have been debated/studied with various results). For those who are interested, tyramine is a byproduct of the amino-acid tyrosine produced when certain foods are aged. Things include: aged cheese, deli meats, fermented soy products, etc.

In addition, some people blame foods with tannins (including many legumes, a category that includes peanuts) on the list.

I'm generally trying to follow the broad outlines my neurologist gave me. However, there are so many websites out there about how this and that food cause migraines. I don't want to jump on a nut-free bandwagon without checking things scientifically first. It's also worthwhile to note that not every food is a trigger for everyone.

I've also noticed that many of the foods on the maybe-don't-eat-this list contain protein, and are in fact my go-to sources of protein (e.g. hummus, beans/legumes, peanut butter, deli meat, aged cheese, etc.). I guess I'm going to be eating fresh meat for awhile, which is not exactly my favorite thing to do. (I was a vegetarian for many years, and I still prefer many vegetarian things.)

How have other folks handled food-related migraine triggers? What about types of protein?

Date: 2011-10-23 03:32 pm (UTC)
the_rck: (Default)
From: [personal profile] the_rck
The only food I'm certain is a migraine trigger for me is eggs. I can handle some egg in other things, and I suspect that it's the yolk rather than the white that's the problem (I have eaten nougat which is largely egg white without any problems). I've been dealing with the dietary restriction for so long that I barely even notice it any more.

Of course, it's possible that I've grown out of the problem. It was last tested when I was eleven. We did a diet elimination test, looking for allergies. When we reintroduced eggs, I got so sick and connected it so strongly to eggs that I couldn't tolerate the smell of them for many years.

Date: 2011-10-24 02:25 pm (UTC)
the_rck: (Default)
From: [personal profile] the_rck
I've never had any problems with chocolate. I'm glad of that because chocolate helps when I have a mild exhaustion headache. Now that I'm not working, those are rare, but I used to get them a lot.

These days, most of my migraines are menstrual, but I still get them from other types of headaches, too. That is, a stress, exhaustion or sinus headache will often trigger a migraine.

So far as I know, eggs are my only food trigger.

Date: 2011-10-23 04:32 pm (UTC)
kaiz: (divas: shirley bassey)
From: [personal profile] kaiz
How have other folks handled food-related migraine triggers?

I don't have any specific food triggers, as in "If I eat X I get an instant migraine". However, all my food triggers are of the "push me over the edge" variety. So, if I haven't been sleeping + a weather front is moving in + I've been in bad pain for a few days, then certain foods will most definitely kick me over the edge an into a full-blown migraine. Those include soy, vinegar, lime and lemon, most alcohol (esp. wine), chocolate, and sharp cheeses. Any foods with nitrates will usually give me a dull, precursor headache no matter what, so I tend to avoid those anyway.

I've never heard of the low tyramine diet; definitely going to be looking into that, thanks for the heads' up!

Date: 2011-10-23 11:57 pm (UTC)
luthien: (Default)
From: [personal profile] luthien
Sorry. This got long. *g*

Foods that I routinely avoid because they always trigger a headache: peanut butter, bananas, dark chocolate. Foods I usually avoid because they frequently (but not always) trigger a headache: brewed coffee, citrus (primarily lime and lemon but also orange), wine. Foods that sometimes trigger a headache but which I still eat from time to time anyway: cheese, milk chocolate.

Coffee: I really like coffee and used to drink it regularly throughout the day, but eventually I reached the point where I couldn't ignore the fact that it was contributing to my Chronic Daily Headache. I've been prescribed caffeine-based migraine medications in the past, so I wondered what was going on there. I researched it and found that the crucial aspect seems to be in the concentration of the caffeine. Up to a certain concentration, caffeine can be beneficial for dealing with a migraine (because it counteracts the physical effect of the migraine on the vascular system) but after it reaches a certain concentration, it can become a migraine trigger. Typically, brewed coffee has the highest concentration of caffeine of any common beverage, and is therefore more likely to trigger a migraine. So... I stopped drinking coffee almost completely, although I still drink diet coke and also various teas frequently so my diet is not at all caffeine-free. I do drink coffee occasionally, usually when I'm out somewhere. I usually order a cafe latte to keep the caffeine concentration down as much as possible, since most cafes just don't understand the concept of a coffee that isn't as strong as possible, and mostly I don't end up with much extra head pain.

Wine: I pretty much gave up wine years ago because of the headache issue. However, I do drink spirits (mostly Scotch) and generally don't have the same problem there.

I also have a couple of foods in the opposite group - ie. the ones that help with the symptoms of headache or, may stop me falling over the edge into a headache. White tea, particularly pai mutan, always helps take the edge off migraine pain, and migraine-suffering friends have also found the same. I know I've seen at least one study which supported this, but I don't think it determined exactly what it was about white tea that causes that effect. White tea is the least processed of all the main categories of tea and is extremely high in anti-oxidants though, so that's probably got something to do with it.

The other food that helps with headache, particularly if I'm teetering on the edge, is steak. A big hit of protein seems to be the way to go there, at least for me.

One other food-related point: A few years ago, I was on Topamax. It's not an experience that I care to repeat because the side-effects were severe to the point of completely incapacitating me, but it did have two interesting effects. The first effect was that it actually did completely stop my migraines (shocking, after twenty years of medications that didn't help). The second, accompanying effect was that all of my food sensitivities vanished. It was amazing. I could eat all those foods I mentioned above without the slightest problem. I couldn't continue with Topamax, so the food sensitivities returned along with the headaches after I stopped taking it, though neither was as severe as before. I keep wondering about it, though, and exactly what the neurological link is between food sensitivities and migraine.

Date: 2011-10-24 02:58 pm (UTC)
mme_hardy: White rose (Default)
From: [personal profile] mme_hardy
It is worth trying anything -- says one desperate woman -- but it's worth working from an accurate list. The Wikipedia one looks pretty good to me.

My best help with food triggers was to keep a diary. I was surprised to find that the fermented-foods thing was totally true for me except for cucumber pickles, but that pork was totally not a problem. The way of diarying that worked best for me was somewhat retrospective; get a bad migraine, then list all the triggers I could find in the previous day.

Basically, don't drive yourself insane, but do eliminate some foods, reintroduce, and see what happens.

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