For some individuals these foods won’t trigger migraines until they are combined or consumed in moderate amounts. For example, you may be able to eat a slice of cheese without triggering a migraine. However, eating a pizza with aged cheese, aged meat, tomato sauce, trans fats, and MSG may trigger a migraine. Quantity does matter. This is because biogenic amines and foods that trigger inflammation can add up to break the headache threshold and trigger migraines. You do not need to worry about the biogenic amines, glutamate, sulfite, and nitrite levels in natural fruits or vegetables.
The following lists make The 3-Day Migraine Diet simple. Click “learn more” in each section for research citations and more information.
Foods: Pizza, wine, beer, aged cheese (feta, blue, parmesan), soy products (soy sauce), yeast, vinegar (only in excess), aged meats (salami, prosciutto), canned meats, canned fish, canned beans, fermented foods, and some pickled foods (usually poor quality).
Biogenic amines in large quantities can increase glutamate and inflammation. Biogenic amines increase when foods are aged, especially at room temperature. However, fresh natural foods such as fruits and vegetables contain low levels and are ok (learn more).
Foods: Monosodium glutamate (MSG) and foods with free glutamic acid, including cheese, milk, wheat (pasta, breads), corn products, soy products, protein powder, bacon with additives, eggs, and many more.
Most foods naturally have glutamic acid; however, processing food frees the glutamic acid from other amino acids to create free glutamic acid. Free glutamic acid is quickly absorbed and may have similar effects as MSG. Many processed foods contain free glutamic acid listed under numerous names (learn more).
Foods: Various meat, including bacon, ham, bologna, corned beef, hot dogs, lunch meats, sausages, canned meat, and cured meats.
Nitrites and nitrates are added to preserve foods and may increase nitric oxide, a headache trigger. They may also form nitrosamines—a carcinogen—in meats. Vegetables are ok (learn more).
Foods: While commonly added to wine and dried fruit, sulfites can be added to any processed foods, such as fruit juice, alcohol, condiments, teas, snacks, etc. Here are sulfite names to look for: sulfur dioxide, sodium bisulfite, potassium bisulfite, sodium metabisulfite, potassium metabisulfite, and sodium sulfite.
Sulfites are a suspected migraine trigger, but research is limited. Sulfites are found in natural foods, but they contain less than 10 parts per million (ppm). Food with over 10 ppm of sulfites must be labeled and may contain over 200 times the amount of sulfites found in nature. Dried fruit is ok if the label does not indicate sulfites were added (learn more).
Foods: Any food that may increase inflammation, including refined grains, sugar, cooking oil (vegetable, corn, cottonseed, canola, soy, rapeseed, sunflower, sesame, safflower, cooking spray, etc.), trans fats, and foods with high levels of omega-6 fat or a poor omega-6 (inflammatory) to omega-3 (anti-inflammatory) ratio.
Inflammation caused by the consumption of numerous processed foods may increase glutamate levels and is associated with headaches and migraines. Alternatives to inflammatory oils are olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, MCT oil, or grass-fed butter (learn more).
- The Most Dangerous Foods
- YOU ARE HERE: Dangerous in Large Amounts
- Dangerous in Excess
- Food Allergens
- Special Circumstances
- Foods to Eat
This is not medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Read more.