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DIET THERAPY FOR MIGRAINE

 

Diet for Headache and Migraine

Migraine headaches are a common neurological disorder, and studies show that their prevalence has increased in the last twenty years, especially in children. The cause of the increase in prevalence is not known. The stress of a more hectic and competitive life-style is postulated as a factor, but changes in dietary habits may be equally responsible. Other factors known to precipitate headaches in migraine-susceptible persons (migraineurs) include fatigue, exercise, sleep deprivation, bright lights, head trauma, infection, menstruation, and oral contraceptives. A predisposition to migraine headaches has a neuro-vascular and neurochemical mechanism, and the disorder is frequently inherited. The dietary factors known to activate the headache mechanism are called "migraine triggers."

If you asked people in the street what they thought caused migraine, they would probably mention chocolate, cheese, stress, anxiety .... some of the things most commonly associated with migraine attacks

The list of foods, food additives, and beverages that can precipitate headaches in migraine-susceptible persons is long and includes the following:

  • Aged or strong cheese
  • Cured meats (hot dogs, bacon, ham, and salami)
  • Citrus fruits
  • Fatty or fried foods
  • Chocolate
  • Food dyes, additives
  • Yogurt, Sour Cream
  • Alcohol, especially red wine, brandy, and whisky
  • Vinegar and pickled foods
  • Smoked foods
  • Meat and vegetable extracts
  • Pork and seafood
  • Canned figs, broad beans, tomatoes
  • Caffeine
Fatty foods

Fatty acids, primarily linoleic and oleic acids, may be involved in the mechanism of migraine vascular headaches. During a migraine attack, researchers have measured a significant rise in the blood levels of free fatty acids, which occurs simultaneously with the release of serotonin from blood platelets, and an abnormal distension of cranial arteries. The initial aura of a migraine attack, characterized by visual scotomata (blind spots), is associated with cranial artery constriction. This is followed by vasodilatation (distention of blood vessels) as the immediate precursor of a migraine headache. Serotonin has variable effects on cerebral blood vessels, but especially vasodilation. It is speculated that free fatty acids are serotonin releasing factors in the blood.

The Role of Diet in Migraine

Twenty-four migraineurs were placed on three diets: A, B, and C for 18 weeks. Diet A foods contained tyramine, exclusive of tyramine-free foodstuff. Diet B patients consumed tyramine-freefoods and excluded those containing tyramine. The Diet C group ate and drank ad-lib. The results showed no significant difference in the severity of migraine in any diet; however, some headaches were time-locked to the ingestion of alcohol, chocolate and fasting. These dietary factors probably do not increase the frequency of headaches but may precipitate them earlier. In general, diet appears to be relatively unimportant in migraine.

The Migraine Elimination Diet

Some people with migraine may be sensitive to certain chemicals that occur naturally in foods. The chemicals that most commonly trigger migraines are tyramine and other amines, including phenylethylamine and histamine. Amines can trigger migraines because they are vasoactive substances that act directly on small blood vessels to expand their capacity.

Foods that contain tannins, compounds that occur naturally in plants, can also trigger migraines. Researchers are not certain what the exact relationship is, but many agree that the neurotransmitter serotonin is involved

Eliminate amine foods

Tyramine is a chemical called a monoamine that is found in higher concentrations in foods that have been fermented, such as aged cheddar, red wines, and blue cheese. American and cottage cheese can be substituted. Foods containing tyramine include:

  • Aged Cheeses
  • Yogurt, buttermilk, sour cream, dried milk
  • Tofu, soy sauce, miso, tempeh
  • Smoked, cured, or pickled fish or meat
  • Beer, wine
  • Lima beans, Italian beans, lentils, navy beans, pinto beans, fava beans, broad beans
  • Snow peas
  • Peanuts
  • Eggplant
  • Sauerkraut
  • Oranges , citrus fruit
  • Cola drinks
  • Banana
  • Grapes, Raisins
  • Plums, Prunes, or Figs
  • Pineapple
  • Avocado
  • Chocolate

Foods that containe histamine or cause the release of histamine should be eliminated. These include:

  • Banana
  • Beef, pork (can eat lamb or chicken instead, these are safe foods for most people)
  • Beer
  • Cheese, especially yellow ripened
  • Chicken liver
  • Egg Plant
  • Fish, shellfish
  • Processed meat, such as salami

 

 

 

       
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