Diet in Migraine

Migraine is the common disorder and is found more in women than men. It is an episode of intense headache usually on one side of the head. The headache in migraine must be throbbing, episodic and extremely intense. Migraine is often accompanied by nausea, vomiting and photophobia (pain in eyes on exposure to light).

Factors that trigger migraine

Migraine attacks are triggered by variety of factors. Some factors which are responsible to trigger migraine in one individual may not effect others. Some of the important factors that trigger migraine are;

  • Sleep disturbance either lack or excessive sleeping, triggers the onset of migraine in most individuals.
  • Stress and depression may become the cause of attack in most of the migraine patients.
  • Food additives such as Chinese salt (MSG) or artificial sweeteners are reported to cause migraine in many individuals
  • Fasting or skipping meals result in severe migraine attack. For that reason migraine patients are always advised to avoid skipping meals.
  • Certain foods are also responsible for contributing to migraine attacks. Citrus fruits, tea ( flavonoids) , coffee, chocolate , milk, nuts, cola drinks, cheese, and processed meats can cause allergy in many individuals and as a result trigger migraine attacks.
  • Light or smell sensitivity. Some individuals are sensitive to bright lights or strong smells and often complain about headache as soon as they are exposed to any one of them.

Diet management in migraine

Food and migraine are closely related to each other. Certain food triggers migraine while others act as a pain reliever , also your dietary habits play an important part. Small modifications in diet may prevent migraine attack.

Look for the food that triggers migraine

Food sensitivity causes migraine in many individuals. However some people are more sensitive to certain foods while others are not, for example nut allergy may cause headache to some individuals while others are more sensitive to citrus fruits and nuts cause them no harm. So it is essential to find out which food is the main cause of attack. Some foods and food additives cause headache right away, while other may take up to a day. If you think that certain food is causing headache, try to avoid that food for a two weeks. Keep an eye on your symptoms to check any changes.

Avoid long gaps between meals

Long gaps between meals drops your blood sugar level which may cause migraine attack in susceptible individuals. Migraine patients should have small frequent meals instead of three larger ones. For migraine patients it is therefore essential to avoid strict diet regimen which offers prolong fasting for weight loss. Instead try eating more fruits, vegetables and whole grains and avoid high fat foods to keep the caloric intake below consumption.

Avoid high sodium foods

High sodium foods triggers headache in migraine patients. Try to limit sodium to 2300mg/ day. Avoid processed meats as they are high in salt and also contains mono sodium glutamate ( Chinese salt). MSG increases oxidative stress which results in severe headache.

Caffeine and headache

The effects of caffeine vary from individual to individual. Some people are so sensitive to caffein that a small amount of chocolate is enough to aggravate headache while others often complain that they suffer from intense headache if they don’t have a cup of tea or coffee in the morning. A small amount of caffeine may help to relieve the symptoms of headache, however larger doses of caffeine develops tolerance to it and may not have a positive effect in controlling migraine. Also the addictive nature of caffeine create a negative effect to the body and if the required dosage is not met daily, one may feel dizzy and repeated onset of migraine can occur. In order to prevent such situations it is essential to limit caffeine to only two cups a day.


The best way to avoid migraine is avoid factors that trigger symptoms

  • Avoid skipping meals.
  • Try to get full night sleep.
  • Try to eat as much healthy and fresh as possible.
  • Try to overcome stress and depression.
  • Exercise regularly but do not overexert yourself.
  • Gradually reduce your caffeine intake.

  • by,

Aliya Waqas

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