Headaches and the Food Connection -- with Elaine Magee, MPH, RD
You mention aspartame; were any other artificial sweeteners implicated as
Not that I saw in the research. And only some people mention NutraSweet as a
trigger, not a large amount. Keep in mind that stress is the number one
migraine trigger. So one of the best things you can do is to work on the stress
in your life and how you manage that stress. And eating a healthy diet and not
skipping meals helps a lot of people sort of de-stress their diet. Our tendency
when we're stressed is to eat junk food, and that's exactly the wrong thing to
do, in terms of migraines.
In what foods is tyramine present?
Food sources are all over the map. There isn't a lot of concrete data on
tyramine content in foods. Basically researchers have found larger amounts in
aged cheeses, red wine, alcoholic beverages, such as beer, some processed
meats, avocados, overripe bananas (some experts say it's the peel that causes
the problem and as long as you shave the outside of the banana to make sure no
inside peel is being eaten, you won't have a problem), chocolate, nuts, seeds,
pork, venison, and soy-based foods.
How much do wheat and gluten, as well as dairy products, play a part in
contributing to migraines?
Not the wheat gluten, to my knowledge, unless it happens to be one of the
symptoms of the wheat allergy. But it did not come up in the common types of
headaches that I researched for the book.
In terms of dairy, there is a connection between the fat, and I'm listing a
specific fat, trans oleic acid. This type of fat is found mainly in meat,
butter, milk and cheese. Some new research has shown that people who take in
higher amounts of this type of fat were almost three times more likely to have
hay fever, compared to people who ate the least. The cheese could be linked to
the hay fever type of headaches.
Also, cheese comes up as one of our major tyramine sources. So if someone is
sensitive to tyramine-containing foods, they may have problems with certain
types of cheeses. There are so many cheeses listed in the "avoid"
column that it's easier to list the cheeses that may not cause you problems,
and they are:
- cottage cheese
- cream cheese
- Monterey jack (thought to be OK for many)
- mozzarella (also thought to be OK for many)
Many of the recipes in this book use the Monterey jack or mozzarella cheese
for this reason.
Assuming a migraine is triggered by food or drink, what is the typical or
average time span between consumption and onset of headache?