4 foods that can trigger headaches or migraines: Explained by a Santa Monica dentist

foods that cause headaches, TMJ, santa monica dentist, beverly hills, pacific palisades, brentwood, caIf you are one of the millions of Americans who suffer from chronic migraines, you are all too familiar with the symptoms, including irritability, altered mood, sensitivity to light, fatigue and depression that indicate the onset of yet another painful episode. What if you discovered that certain foods you eat may be responsible? Here are four foods commonly linked to triggering headaches or migraines.

1. Red wine

Even a few sips of red wine can trigger a mild to severe headache in many. For some, that headache becomes a migraine. Older research squarely places the blame on an amino acid in red wine called tyramine, but newer studies indicate the real culprit may be phytochemicals, or phenols, also found in this wine of choice. Either way, it is a common denominator for many.

2. Foods containing tyramine

Although it is based on older research, and many think it less of an instigator and more of an accomplice with regards to triggering a migraine, there is enough history to at least give tyramine an honorable mention. Many foods contain tyramine, including aged cheeses, red wine, anything pickled, soy-based foods, venison, processed meats, nuts, seeds, overripe bananas and avocados.

3. Caffeine

This one probably isn’t a surprise. Unfortunately, caffeine does cause headaches, both from consuming too much of it, as well as too little. This is especially true when people decide to quit drinking their daily dose “cold turkey.” If you do decide to quit or reduce your caffeine intake, it is better to wean yourself off slowly to avoid those painful rebound headaches.

4. Chocolate

No one is saying to give it up, but it certainly is another factor in the fight to do away with migraines, or at least to reduce the number of them. While some physicians still believe chocolate is linked to migraines because it contains tyramine, new research thinks it is more likely to do with the cravings women experience during extreme stress or hormonal changes. These two factors can trigger painful headaches on their own.

Should you stop eating these foods?

What you eat is probably not solely responsible for your headaches, however, it may be helpful to keep a food diary to help you rule out your specific dietary triggers. Other factors, including overactivity, bright sunlight or other physical issues, like TMJ, may also be triggering your chronic headaches or migraines.

Learn more

TMJ can be treated at a Santa Monica dental clinic. If you would like to learn more about the connection between headaches and TMJ, please schedule a free consultation.