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Amid the storm going on in our lives, it’s hard to tell what’s causing us a headache: stress or migraine? Whatever may be the reason, having a healthy diet can prevent both! - By Nikita Arya
Statistically speaking, 1 in every four women experience migraines in their lives, and at least 90% of people get the first attack in their 30s. So, the odds don’t seem to be in your favor. While continuing with a fast-paced lifestyle, our eating choices often go out of whack, and this can play a crucial role in both escalating and preventing the symptoms of migraine. So, better make informed food decisions on what to eat and what not.
Migraine headaches are quite different from common headaches; they last longer and have tedious symptoms like nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light, and many more. Some people with migraines may see flashes of light known as aura, while others experience tingling sensations in the limbs. Some of them also report cravings for certain foods, irritability, sensitivity to excessive noises, and feelings of depression before an attack. The intensity of the pain is also greater. These pains and symptoms may last from several hours to several days! In many women, a drop in estrogen levels around their periods or during pregnancy may trigger migraines because of the hormonal imbalance.
What triggers a migraine attack are the temporary changes in the nerve conduction within the brain that create pain. Paying attention to what you eat is one of the best ways to avoid severe migraine attacks. Eat wisely!
Even though there is no clear-cut factor that points out the relationship between food and migraine, some people with migraines believe that some particular foods seem to trigger the attacks a lot more than other foods. Here are the most common trigger foods that migraineurs must avoid:
Excessive Coffee: More than two cups of coffee might escalate your migraine.
Artificial Sweeteners: Aspartame, most commonly found in calorie-free beverages, may increase the risk of migraine headaches.
Chocolate: High levels of beta-phenylethylamine and caffeine present in chocolate may trigger headaches in some people.
Citrus fruits: For most people, citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruits, lemons, and limes are very common prompts.
Red Wine: Alcoholic beverages having high levels of chemicals called tyramine and histamine are considered migraine triggers. Red wine contains a lot of histamines.
While some foods trigger migraine pain, some other foods may help prevent it from worsening. Whole foods that are preservative-free and don’t contain artificial flavorings are beneficial to include in the diet. There are some shreds of evidence saying that a vegan diet may also benefit migraineurs.
Some foods are categorized as ‘pain-free foods’ for migraine by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, which include:
- Orange, yellow, and leafy vegetables (sweet potatoes, carrots, and spinach)
- rice (brown rice)
- dried or cooked fruits (non-citrus)
- natural sweeteners or flavors (maple syrup and vanilla extract)
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