Avoid Foods that Trigger Headache

Lego headache by Matt BrownIf you suffer with frequent headaches, you may consider avoiding alcohol, caffeine, cheese, and food additives.  Research has shown that these items can trigger headache.   Keeping a food diary may help you identify your personal food triggers.


Sulfites used to preserve red wine have been linked to migraine headaches.  Alcohol increases blood flow to the brain and causes dehydration, both of which could trigger headaches.


If you customarily drink 2-3 cups of coffee at work or regularly consume caffeinated drinks and miss a “dose,” then you could feel symptoms of caffeine withdrawal.  Too much caffeine at one time can also be a trigger, since you can feel headache when the stimulant effect is fading.

Aged Cheeses

Older cheese is not better for migraine sufferers.  A substance called tyramine accumulates in cheese as it ages, so the more it ages, the more likely it is to cause headache.  Cheeses to avoid include: blue cheese, swiss, cheddar, gouda, and parmesan.

Tyramine and Tannins

Tyramine and tannins are two naturally occurring compounds found in foods.  Some people can be sensitive to one or both of these substances.  Tyramine is found in high concentration in red wine, beer, the stringy pieces of the peel that stick to a banana, overripe avocados, ages cheeses, pork, some processed meats, soy products, nuts, and chocolate.  Tannins are found in coffee, tea, chocolate, red wine, and apple juice.  Please note: not an exhaustive lists of foods containing tyramine and tannins.

Food Additives

Monosodium glutamate or MSG is an additive used to enhance flavor and found to cause severe headache in some migraine sufferers.  Some people are sensitive to artificial sweeteners such as aspartame.  Nitrates is another food additive often found in processed meats.  Eliminate a food additive from your diet if consuming it brings on a headache.

Lead a Healthy Lifestyle

Keeping a food diary can help you to identify food or drinks that are triggering your headaches.  If you eliminate a single possible food trigger from your diet at a time you might learn what you need to avoid.  Migraine sufferers especially should avoid long periods without eating (hypoglycemia), smoking, and drinking alcohol.  Additionally, people who are overweight and obese typically have more frequent and more painful migraines than those with weight in the healthy range.  Exercise and regular physical exercise can help people achieve and maintain a health weight.  Many patients have good outcomes managing tension and headache with chiropractic treatment.  I hope that these tips help  you to experience headaches less and consider making chiropractic a part of your healthy lifestyle at Matthews Chiropractic Center.

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