Some of the harder to understand migraine food triggers like tyramine and tannins are explained here along with examples of foods to help you understand the difference and the possible problems leading the body to trigger off a migraine attack.
I had a hard time getting my head around these two triggers - tyramine and tannins.
According to the National Headache Foundation’s website -
“Tyramine is produced in foods from the natural breakdown of the amino acid tyrosine”.
It is not something that gets added to the foods we eat but the levels increase with age. When the foods are not fresh they ferment. So then, this means aged foods create Tyramine from their own natural process.
Leftover food stored in the refrigerator increases in tyramine after 24-48 hours. The longer food is left in the fridge, the higher the chance of this becoming a trigger for you into a migraine attack.
Aged foods that are fermented like soy sauce, sauerkraut and salami are considered to be the worst offenders.
These are easy to test. Just take them out of your diet for a week, or a month if you can. And then introduce just one back into your diet, once a week.
Allow 4 days between testing the food. You can also test for amount if its something you really love.
I left salami out of my diet for 10 years when I was macrobiotic. I still got lots of migraine attacks, so I know it is not a trigger for me. However, I still approach salami and sauerkraut with caution!
I eat it only once in a while, and in moderation.
Please click here for a more extensive list of foods that trigger migraines than what is covered below.
The National Headache Foundation has a clear and easy to understand article on the “Low Tyramine Headache Diet” which lists in food groups what is allowed, what to use with caution and what to avoid.
I have listed just a few examples of what they say so please click on the link below for the full copy. They (NHF) break it down by food group for us like this:
Allowed – freshly prepared meats, fish and poultry.
Caution – bacon, sausages, hot dogs, lunch meats with nitrates and nitrites added.
Avoid - aged, dried, fermented, salted, smoked or pickled foods. Salami, pepperoni and liverwurst. Tyramine galore!
Allowed – whole milk, cottage, farmer, and ricotta cheeses.
Caution – yogurt, buttermilk, sour cream.
Avoid - aged cheeses. Blue, Brie, Cheddar, Stilton, etc.
Allowed – asparagus, string beans, beets, carrots, spinach,
pumpkin, tomatoes, zucchini, potatoes, onions, and soy beans.
Caution – Raw onion. uh - OK!
Avoid – snow peas, fava or broad beans, sauerkraut, pickles, and olives. Avoid any and all fermented soy products (Miso paste, Miso soup, Soy sauce, Teriyaki sauce).
Allowed – apples, applesauce, cherries, apricots, peaches and those not restricted.
Caution – citrus, orange, grapefruit, pineapple, avocados, bananas, figs, raisin, dried fruit, red plums. Just to name a few.
Avoid - ALL!
They also cover: soups, beverages, desserts and sweets, food labels, and fats oils and miscellaneous. I think it’s a fabulous resource. Please click here for their full version of migraine food triggers.
The director of the Diamond Headache Clinic - Dr. Seymour Diamond, covers tyramine in his book Conquering Your Migraine.
Dr. Diamond also says to avoid all nuts and seeds, all alcoholic and fermented beverages.
And we can't forget the most well known migraine food triggers of MSG and chemicals.
There is a lot of information around on migraine food triggers. I look at it as part of what’s keeping me healthy instead of what I cannot eat. As I mentioned, I enjoy salami occasionally, but it’s not something I eat regularly.
And I must say I’ve reached that decision only after about 15 years of not eating it or any lunch meats. I have decided to test tyramine again as a migraine food trigger for me. It doesn’t seem to make a difference, so ... I get to add that one back onto my list.
I guess it’s just going to be common sense in the end to eat fresh foods, home cooked or cooked meals from scratch, using fresh herbs, veggies, meat and fruit. No cans, no jars, no 'fat free' and no diet foods.
Studies have now proven that our best results for pain relief will come from combining traditional approaches with alternative therapies. Besides completely avoiding our known food triggers, vitamin support can be beneficial at reducing our reactions to foods.
My doctor told me to take 4,000 mgs of Vitamin C over the day in divided doses, after a strong reaction to a food. Apparently Vitamin C helps the body to deal with the allergic reaction.