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Migraine Food Triggers: Tyramine

Written and verified by Holly Hazen

If you're having a hard time discovering what your migraine food triggers are... here are some guidelines. We'll explore tyramine which could be the hidden trigger you are looking for. I'll give you lots of examples of the offending food so you know what to avoid and a way to test it to see if it's one of your triggers.

Be aware of migraine food triggers like tyramine @migraine savvy

If you're having a hard time getting your head around this trigger, here's what you need to know.

According to the National Headache Foundation’s website...

"Tyramine is produced in foods from the natural breakdown of the amino acid tyrosine."

It's not something that gets added to the foods we eat but the levels increase as the food ages. When the foods are not fresh they begin to ferment. So then, this means some foods create tyramine from their own natural aging 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 migraine trigger.

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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. So test just a little bit at first, and if that's ok, then wait til next week to test a little more... and so on.

I left hotdogs and 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!

So you might be able to eat it once in a while, and in moderation.

Please click here for a more extensive list of all the foods that trigger migraines.

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.

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Tyramine Is in Meat, Fish, Poultry and Eggs

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).

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There's an 8 week food experiment in my Migraine Pain Management Course. The first module is free... continue reading


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.

Nuts and Seeds

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 tyramine related 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.

My Last Tip To Avoid Migraine Food Triggers Like Tyramine

Eat fresh food. Make meals from scratch using fresh herbs, vegetables, meat and fruit. If you like to make loads and have leftovers, make sure you freeze it as soon as possible to avoid the fermentation process that creates tyramine.

Stay strong,

Holly x

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