Headaches and the Food Connection -- with Elaine Magee, MPH, RD
I have a 15-year-old daughter who has been suffering with migraines for two
years now. They put her down for a week at a time. None of the medications seem
to help as she wakes up with many of the headaches. Can blood tests detect if
there is any allergy to food and if so, how accurate are they?
Not to my knowledge is there a test you can take to understand if your
migraines are being triggered by your diet. That's why the migraine diet diary
becomes so helpful. We have one in the book you can use, just make copies for
each day. There is a high degree of genetic influence, too, on migraine
sufferers, so note that her children will also have a higher tendency toward
it. My best advice is to get as much information as possible for her and work
closely with a headache clinic or headache expert in your area, someone who can
help her find the right medication and dose as she finishes growing.
Why, when I eat some sugar -- like candy, jam etc. -- does it give me a
I vaguely remember seeing jam on one of the food lists, but sugar doesn't
really specifically come into play with headaches and migraines, only in that
you don't want to cause spikes in blood sugar and then quick drops, which is
why you want to avoid the caffeine and junk- food quick fixes. Your body may
crave sugar when you're stressed because it wants the quick calming effect of
carbohydrates, but try to give it carbohydrates that will be long lasting, like
whole grains, al dente pasta, beans, rather than the sugar fix.
I often find that with Chinese food as well as other foods containing soy sauce
or other "natural flavors," that I'm fine when I first eat the food,
but if I put it in the refrigerator overnight, the next day, it will cause a
migraine? Is it fermentation?
It's possible that you're reacting to the chicken having higher levels of
tyramine. The soy sauce itself and the MSG itself does not increase over time,
to my knowledge, but it's also possible you have a one-day reaction time to the
MSG that you consumed the day before. Generally people react within one to two
hours to MSG, but it's possible you have a reaction time that's longer. It's
also possible you're reacting to higher levels of the tyramine in the meat in
the Chinese food or you're reacting to the soy sauce in the Chinese food and
that's giving you a 24-hour reaction time.
We are almost out of time. Before we wrap things up for today, do you have any
final words for us?