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Migraine and Tyramine rich foods

Posted by Eamonn Brady on

People with migraine are often told to avoid chocolate, cheese and red wine as these are known triggers for migraines. These foods may not be the biggest cause or trigger for migraines for many, but they have an influence for some people living with migraine.


Is this only a myth?


Some consider the influence of the likes of chocolate, cheese and red wine on migraine to be a myth. However studies indicate that a type of amino acid called tyramine in these foods is a potential trigger for migraines for some people. Experts are still trying to understand how tyramine can trigger migraines. One explanation is that tyramine can cause nerve cells in the brain to release the chemical norepinephrine. This produces a chain reaction resulting in constriction (narrowing) of blood vessels in the brain followed by re-bound dilation (expansion) of these vessels which results in the type of throbbing headache pain often associated in migraine. Thus I would advise that anyone living with migraine eating these products in caution; if they trigger migraine then they should avoid; if they find they don’t trigger migraine attacks then they continue to enjoy.


Influence of fat


Amines are more readily absorbed when fat is present, which may be a reason that chocolate and cheese seem to trigger attacks more than other foods and why fried foods and dairy products are implicated by some in migraine attacks.


Foods known as migraine triggers include:


Chocolate; Cheese and other dairy products; Citrus fruits like oranges and lemons; Caffeine (tea and coffee); Alcohol (especially red wine and some beers); Pork; Onions; Marmite; Wheat.


Foods rich in protein have higher levels of tyramine if they have been stored for a long period of time or if have not been kept cold enough. This can explain why aged and fermented foods are sometimes seen as culprits when it comes to triggering migraine. These include the likes of aged cheeses, smoked fish, cured meats and some types of beers.


Food craving prior to migraine


Some people find they experience food cravings, such as a craving for cheese, up to 48 hours before an attack (during the prodromal stage…see later). Some experts reckon these craving are the reasons these foods are sometimes mistaken as triggers. Eating a suspected food trigger on a migraine-free day will help you to ascertain if it is a real trigger or whether it is simply a food craving that acts as a warning of an impending migraine


What is the prodromal phase?


Several hours before the migraine begins (and sometimes up to 24 hours before) many with migraines experience unusual sensations. This is known as the prodromal phase. They may feel:


·         Energetic and excitable


·         Depressed


·         Irritable
·         Thirsty
·         Cravings for certain foods
·         Sleepy, with frequent yawning
·         Need to urinate more



Many who experience migraines recognise the prodromal phase and know a migraine is on the way so they know to take action to prevent an attack (eg) rest, avoid stress, avoid bright lights, avoid certain foods, take preventative medication, etc. 


Weekly weigh in clinic


Currently, Nutritionist Aisling Murray Bsc Nutrition is offering a weight loss program in Whelehans Pharmacy where your BMI and waist measurement is calculated and she checks your weight weekly. You get tips and motivation weekly to help you lose weight all at a great weekly rate of €10 per week.



Whelehans Nutrition Service


Whelehans nutritional service is a private one to one advice service with our nutritionist Aisling Murray. Aisling’s areas of interest include weight loss management, nutrition education and food intolerance. Our nutrition service offers you the chance to change your life in a positive way by focusing on your overall wellbeing as well as the chance to follow up on your progress.

Migraine Ireland Helpline is 1850 200 378 (ROI) or 0844 826 9323 or Email Expert information at


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