If you suffer from frequent headaches with no known cause, it may be time to take a close, critical look at your diet. Some types of food are known to cause headaches, and some can even trigger migraines. Knowing the most common headache-inducing foods is essential for learning how to avoid them or consume them only in moderation.
High-tyramine food. Tyramine regulates blood pressure, and very high levels of it lead to headaches, including incidences of migraines. According to the Cleveland Clinic, “Generally, the longer a high-protein food ages, the greater the tyramine content.” The Cleveland Clinic cites aged cheese such as blue cheese or feta as the primary foods to avoid. However, some sources state that leftovers or any kind of older protein-rich foods can have levels of tyramine sufficient to trigger a headache.
Alcohol and caffeine. The notorious hangover, or severe headache often accompanied with nausea after excessive alcohol consumption, is well-known to every unscrupulous college student. Caffeine consumed in large doses can have a similar effect, and caffeine is also known to cause withdrawal headaches if you’re used to large amounts and suddenly cut back or quit. Alcohol and caffeine both cause dehydration, and they may cause elevated blood pressure levels.
Preservatives and artificial sweeteners. Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is the top known preservative to cause migraines in some people. However, some preservatives and artificial sweeteners (such as aspartame) are also associated with a higher incidence of headaches. Processed meats such as lunch meat and hot dogs often contain these headache-inducing preservatives, but some medication also has preservatives.
How to deal with food-induced headaches. Some types of food headaches can be treated with over-the-counter headache relief medicine, but often, most of these headaches do not last long. For a more natural option, try alternating hot and cold packs on your forehead until the pain subsides. Also, try to identify what types of foods trigger your headaches, and avoid those or consume them only in moderation.