Migraines And Diet

In some people, migrainesand diet are linked; some foods and beverages seem to have a strong effect on the frequency and severity of migraine headaches. Though the exact medical connection between these foods and potential migraines isn’t clear, evidence suggests that avoiding some foods may help reduce the frequency or severity of migraines.

A Healthy Diet for Migraine Sufferers

In your quest to become migraine free, it may be important to limit intake of certain foods. Diet restrictions fall into two food categories:

  • Migraine triggers, which should be avoided or eaten sparingly
  • Headache-fighting foods that reduce the frequency or severity of migraines.

The Migraine Free Diet: Foods to Avoid

Several studies have linked migraine incidence to consumption of certain cheeses, particularly aged cheeses that contain compounds that are believed to cause migraines. In some study participants, cottage cheese, cream cheese, ricotta and fresh curds were less likely to result in a migraine than sharp, aged cheeses such as cheddar and parmesan. However, research is still being conducted on this link.

Steering clear of the following may reduce migraine occurrence: alcohol, especially red wine, and aged or processed meats like cold cuts, nuts, broad bean pods and foods with high levels of MSG.

Caffeine may trigger migraines. Avoid sudden fluctuations in your caffeine intake. Quitting caffeine “cold turkey” may cause head pain and discomfort. Foods with high concentrations of tyramine or tannins salty food and dried fruits can also be triggers.

As you adjust your diet for migraine prevention, keep in mind that sudden additions or subtractions of anything can trigger a migraine response. Make dietary changes gradually and keep your expectations reasonable.

The Migraine Free Diet: Foods That Help

A healthy diet for migraine sufferers closely resembles a healthy diet for anyone: green vegetables, fruit, whole grains, high fiber and healthy fats. Food choices for a successful migraine-free diet should be fresh and non-processed.

Some foods that may help prevent migraines include:

  • Cayenne pepper
  • Fish
  • Foods high in calcium and magnesium such as spinach, broccoli, oatmeal and garlic
  • Ginger
  • Peppermint

In all of your decisions, embrace moderation, variety and gradual changes. Don’t skip meals and don’t fast, since blood sugar fluctuations may be involved in the connection between migraines and diet.


Livestrong. (2010). Can diet trigger migraines? Retrieved January 12, 2011 from http://www.livestrong.com/article/319997-can-diet-trigger-migraines/

Relieve Migraine Headache. (2010). Find the connection: Diet headache migraine simple and easy food choices. Retrieved January 12, 2011 from http://www.relieve-migraine-headache.com/diet-headache-migraine.html