At The Brain Charity, we see a number of people with a wide variety of headache disorders such as: headache, cluster headache, hemiplegic migraine and migraine.
For Brain Awareness Week at The Brain Charity this year we are looking at diet, nutrition and healthy lifestyle. Migraines in particular are a condition in which are strongly affected by diet and lifestyle. In fact there are a number of triggers. As well as the more obvious triggers such as stress, fatigue and medication there are a number of triggers that many people are unaware of.
Most of us enjoy a cup of tea or coffee, especially in the morning! That’s because caffeine is a stimulant that increases alertness and energy. Many of us drink it to wake us up but caffeine can also cause insomnia and for many people being tired can induce a migraine or headache. Caffeine can be found in tea, coffee and cola.
Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)
MSG is used in food preservation and flavouring. It is usually used in oriental food, processed meats and canned food. The food enhancer is put on your food to make it nice and tasty but the powerful flavour may be too strong and trigger a headache or migraine.
Who doesn’t like chocolate? Some women turn to it to relieve menstrual cramps and often crave it when it’s that time of the month. However chocolate could actually be the cause of your headache. That’s because it contains the amino acid Tyramine which reduces serotonin levels in the brain and affects the dilation of blood vessels. Tyramine is also found in red wine and some cheeses such as Stilton.
Lack of food/missing meals
Although there are many foods that can trigger a migraine or headache, having nothing to eat at all can also be a trigger due to a drop in blood sugar. Regular snacks & meals could prevent migraines and headaches by avoiding the peak in blood sugar.
If you are experiencing frequent headaches and can’t fathom out what is causing them, try and narrow it down by keeping a headache/migraine diary and get to the root cause.
Here are some that we use:
The Migraine Trust Migraine Diary.
The National Headache Foundation's Headache Diary.