Food for Thought: Foods, Ingredients, and Migraines

Dr. Dimitrios Lambrou Sep 25, 2014

If you have ever had a migraine then you probably would do anything you could to prevent getting another one. No one enjoys experiencing light and noise sensitivity and wanting nothing more than to lie down in a dark, cool room until the migraine has dissipated. Did you know that certain foods could trigger migraines in some people? While what triggers a migraine is different for each individual, here are some foods and additives to watch out for and food that can help with migraines.

Migraine Foods to Avoid

Tyramine or Phenylethlamine

These two amino acids are most commonly found in aged cheese (cheddar, blue, Brie), soy foods, nuts, citrus fruits, and vinegar (both red and balsamic).


Be careful while out to dinner or at a social event, especially a cocktail party. Alcohol causes dehydration, which is a major cause of headaches and migraines. Alcohol also contains large amounts of tyramine.

Processed Meats

The preservatives used in processed meats have been linked to triggering migraines.

Bacon, Hot Dogs, and Sausage

These delicious meats are filled with preservatives that can bring on a migraine.


This is a plant compound most notable for giving foods that contain it an astringent taste (dry, puckering sensation in your mouth).  Foods that contain this ingredient include: coffee, tea, chocolate, red wine, and apple juice.

Artificial Sweeteners

Excitotoxins, which cause neurons to fire spasmodically, are thought to be the reason artificial sweeteners can be migraine triggers.

Now that we have quite a few foods and ingredients to avoid, what are some foods you can eat to help with migraines?

Foods that Help Migraines


Lettuce leaves are high in water and fiber, which helps your body feel great and combat dehydration.


In moderation, coffee can be a great quick fix for a pounding headache. Caffeine is a vasoconstrictor; it reduces the size of blood vessels, which can cause headaches. If your headache or migraine is caused by allergies, coffee can reduce the release of histamines in your blood, which can calm allergic reactions and save your head from the pain.


These yellow treats are high in magnesium, which can help relax blood vessels and ease head pain.

Spicy Foods

If you are congested, spicy foods are a great way to clear up your sinuses and reduce pressure, which can cause headaches. Spicy foods also contain vitamin E, which can relax your blood vessels giving relief to headaches and migraines.


The skin of a large potato is full with potassium, which can help ease pain.

Everybody is different; therefore each person reacts to certain foods and ingredients contrarily. Not every migraine sufferer will get relief from their pain by drinking coffee and thus processed meats will not trigger every migraine. At Northeast Spine and Sports Medicine, we understand how migraines work. We offer treatment options to get you relief and help prevent you from getting migraines. Our treatment options include, chiropractic, acupuncture, interventional pain management, and more.

To learn more, contact us for an appointment.