Migraines are a debilitating type of headache that can produce throbbing, nausea, vomiting and disturbances in vision and neurological function.

They affect many and when they strike they are truly life disrupting. The prevalence of migraines seems to be about three times higher in women than in men.

The actual cause of migraines is not well understood…

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It is thought to be due, in part, to vasoconstriction (the narrowing of blood cells resulting from contraction of the muscular wall of the vessels) followed by rapid vasodilatation (widening of the blood vessels from relaxation of the muscular walls).

There are several factors that can stimulate a migraine and as well as exacerbate the symptoms.

Treatment options do include certain medications but they only reduce migraine frequency by about 50%. Also these medications come with many side effects. Therefore research on safer and more effective treatments is needed. For example, dietary changes and supplements have been shown to provide favorable results with very few side effects.

Dietary factors and triggering foods may play a role in stimulating migraine headache.

Lets have a look at some:

Caffeine – can be one such trigger. Studies have shown avoiding caffeine can improve your response to treatment and sometimes even eliminate the need for medication.

Snacking on salty foods – can also be a trigger, and this is particularly the case when loading up on an empty stomach.

Aspartame – a non-nutritive sweetener has been shown to trigger headaches but seems to be more prevalent when ingested regularly or at cumulative levels.

Food allergies and sensitivities appear to be one of the most common triggers of migraines

Food chemicals are particularly common migraine triggers, however foods can be triggers as well. This is not well known since many allergies can be masked. Interestingly food allergies can be unmasked with an elimination diet.

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Triggers

Many people are aware that eating chocolate, cheese, citrus fruits and drinking alcohol can trigger a migraine. But this is not the complete list by any means. There are other ‘individual specific’ foods as well. Food allergy and sensitivity testing are methods that can assist in determining what these foods might be.

Some nutritional supplements have been shown to prevent the incidence of migraines.

For example, several studies suggest that magnesium deficiency may play a roll. And when supplementing with this mineral under tests and studies, migraine frequency has been shown to decreases significantly.

Certain B vitamins may influence migraines as well. These include: Riboflavin, Niacin, Folic Acid, B-12, and B-6. Other nutrients that may be involved in the prevention of migraines include: Alpha Lipoic Acid, Vitamin C and Omega 3s.

In conclusion

When it comes to diet and triggers for migraines, dietary modifications should be individualized. Working with a registered dietitian who specializes in food sensitivity testing and migraines would be one of the best ways to detect migraine triggers.

Avoiding the common foods and chemicals along with individual assessments may be the key to complete resolution of migraine headaches and improved health and wellbeing.

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