Foods that contain tyramine, such as aged cheese, red wine, and some processed meats, are one of the biggest culprits. Tyramine is produced when proteins break down as food ages - and the longer a high-protein food ages, the greater the tyramine content. Types of processing, fermenting, ageing, degradation, and even bacterial contamination, will determine how much tyramine a cheese contains.
If you suffer with headaches, it may be worth eliminating the following to see if symptoms improve:
Not only does blood-flow to your brain increase when you drink alcohol, it also causes your body to urinate more, leading to dehydration. Impurities in alcohol can also cause a problem - vodka is the most pure form of alcohol and considered the least likely to cause a headache.
If you like white wine but it gives you a bad head, it could be the sulphites to blame. Added to wine as a preservative, these chemical compounds break down and create sulphur dioxide when digested, which can trigger headaches. A small percentage of people are allergic to sulphites - asthmatics are more likely to be affected and may experience wheezing and coughing. Sulphites are also found in dried fruit, fruit juice made from concentrates, beer and cider. If you've ever had a reaction after eating dried fruit, then you may be among those who are sensitive to sulphur in wine. In case you're wondering, sulphites can also be found in red wine, but generally contain far less than white.
Nitrates and nitrites added to food as a preservative can dilate blood vessels, causing headaches in some people. Foods to watch out for include processed or cured meats, such as hot dogs, ham, sausage, bacon, deli-style meats, and pepperoni.
Monosodium glutamate (MSG)
Not as widely used as it once was, monosodium glutamate may still be found in some Asian foods. If you are sensitive to MSG, you're likely to experience symptoms 20 to 25 minutes after consuming it. In addition to a pain across the front or sides of the head, you may also experience abdominal discomfort, pressure in the face and chest, dizziness, facial flushing and a burning sensation in the chest, neck, or shoulders.
These foods have been identified as triggers by some headache sufferers:
Freshly-baked yeast goods
Peanuts, peanut butter, almonds, and other nuts and seeds
Pizza or other tomato-based products
Chicken livers and other organ meats, pate
Smoked or dried fish
Brewer's yeast found in natural supplements
Certain fresh fruits including ripe bananas, citrus fruits, papaya, red plums, raspberries, kiwi, and pineapple
Dried fruits, such as figs, raisins, and dates
Soups made from meat extracts or bouillon
Cultured dairy products, sour cream, buttermilk, yogurt
Most beans including broad, fava, and lentils
It's not just coffee that can cause a problem – cola, tea, and chocolate contain enough caffeine to affect some people. If you suffer with headaches, it's best to limit your caffeine consumption to no more than 200 mg /day or one cup of coffee. While you're cutting down on coffee, give the artificial sweeteners a rest too, as these have been linked to headaches in some people. If you go on a detox, don't be surprised if you get headaches from caffeine withdrawal.
Keep a food diary
For most people, keeping a headache diary is the only way to determine which foods are causing a problem. Note down what you eat and how you feel after eating it. You can also try eliminating certain foods for two weeks to see if it improves your symptoms. Finally, it's not just what you eat, but how you eat that's important. Fasting and skipping meals can lead to low blood-sugar, while not drinking enough water can lead to dehydration - both of which can bring on a headache.
Three products that may help your headache:
Headaches: Amazing All Natural Remedies
Boots Ibuprofen and Codeine 200 mg/12.8 mg Tablets - 32 Tablets, £6.49
Kool 'n' Soothe Migraine - 4 Pack, £3.39