Video Q & A:

Triggers

Question:

What foods trigger migraines?

Expert:   Joshua Cohen, M.D., M.P.H. , St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center »

Hate to break it to you, but some of your favorite guilty pleasures could trigger painful migraines. To find out what needs to be taken off your plate, watch this!

Transcript: I hate to break it to you, but some of your favorite guilty pleasures could trigger painful migraines. According to research, 40 percent of migraine patients can suffer from food triggers, which can be anything from chips to cheesecake. Foods naturally rich in tyrosine—an amino acid that affects blood vessels—are a major trigger. Tyrosine and tyramine, which it turns into, are found in most fish, soy products, meats, nuts, or aged cheese. Additional natural triggers can be found in foods containing the amino acid phenylethylamine. That includes baked goods such as cheesecake, as well as yellow cheeses, chocolate, citrus fruit, cocoa, berry-pie fillings or canned berries, and red wine. But the worst offenders are foods containing nitrates and nitrites, preservatives found in bacon, lunch meats and your favorite—pepperoni pizza. Other additives such as monosodium glutamate can also be powerful triggers. Artificial sweeteners including sucralose and aspartame are also thought to trigger migraine in some people. Many of these food triggers seem to cause migraine by altering blood flow to the brain. You’ll know you’re having additive-induced migraine if you begin to experience pain across the front or sides of your head. You may also feel abdominal discomfort and pressure in your chest within 20 minutes of eating. The best way to DISCOVER what your food triggers are is to keep a diary to track what you eat and don’t eat. You’ll be surprised how much you can learn about what causes your headaches by discovering habits and patterns in your diet! More »

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