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Identifying Food Triggers for Migraines

Experts explain the link between diet and migraines.

Minimize Migraines With a Healthy Lifestyle

Regular meals and snacks help to minimize migraines. Loder notes that in studies of large groups of migraine patients, half said that going long periods without food, sometimes as little as five hours, triggered headaches.

Body weight plays a role in the frequency and severity of headaches, too.

There's no evidence that being overweight causes migraine headaches. But overweight and obese people have more frequent migraines that are more painful than migraines in people whose weight is in the healthy range.

It's a good idea for migraine patients to not smoke and not drink alcohol -- or drink alcohol in moderation. It's also important to get regular physical activity, follow a balanced diet, and achieve and maintain a healthy weight. That's because people with migraine have a higher risk for other health problems.

Migraine with aura approximately doubles the risk for stroke in women as compared to aura-free migraines and having no migraine at all.

Migraine minus the aura carries some health risk, too. Men who get migraines -- with or without aura -- are more likely to have heart attack and stroke. But it's not clear that migraine causes heart disease.

It's important to put risk into perspective. "You can't change the fact that you have migraine with aura. So it doesn't pay to worry about it," Loder says.

Instead, work with your doctor and other health professionals to focus on risk factors for heart disease and stroke that are under your control, including blood cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes, and body weight. Your head, and the rest of your body, will thank you.

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Reviewed on March 11, 2014

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