Best food for migraine headaches
Mar 4, 2019 // By:migrainer // 2 comments
Earlier I’ve written about 27 foods that trigger migraine headaches. In that article, you can find what type of food and which specific foodstuff can cause you a migraine headache. Also, I explained mechanisms and actions of chemical triggers of migraine, such as tyramine, casein, PEA, nitrates and nitrites, sulfites, etc… Now I would like to write about the best food for migraine headaches. Specifically, what types of food and which foodstuffs are a good replacement for the ones which cause migraine headache. In other words, it is about safe alternative food which you can use in your diet and prevent a migraine. Therefore, let’s begin.
Nine groups of the best food for migraine headaches
I divided foodstuffs according to the type of food, its purpose and in each group, there are two or more foodstuffs. Therefore we have;
- Dairy products which contain American cheese, cottage cheese, and low-fat milk
- Cereal/bread products which contain rice cereal, potato, and pasta
- Meats products which contain lamb, chicken and some oily fish
- Vegetable products which contain broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower
- Soups products which contain homemade cream soup, soup and broths
- Fruits products which contain bananas and apples
- Desserts products which contain sherbet, cake, cookies, sugar, and gelatin
- Snacks products which contain hard candies, jelly, jam, and honey
- Beverages products which contain some juices, decaffeinated cola and coffee, and some alcoholic beverages
Further, in this text, I will explain why these foods are a safe alternative and on what to pay attention to.
Dairy products in general and their replacement
Dairy products are mostly connected to intolerance, casein and tyramine induced migraines. For example, you could have the intolerance of milk because of casein and provoke a migraine. Or you could have tyramine induced migraine if you eat cheese, especially aged cheese. But you can’t eject from diet all dairy products because of many reasons. You could limit or avoid that type of product and use a safe alternative such as American or cottage cheese and low-fat milk.
Cheese and milk in general – Why is good and why not?
Because of many reasons, cheese and milk are generally good for our diet and health, but also they can be quite harmful and provoke a migraine.
The benefits of cheese are that it contains calcium and proteins which are good for us, but a disadvantage is high saturated fats and sodium. Also, people who have lactose intolerance should avoid dairy products, except some specific types which are intended for them. In a case of migraineurs problem is tyramine, which cheese, especially aged cheese contains. So the more cheese is older, it has a higher level of tyramine in it.
Milk is good because it contains vitamin D, calcium and potassium. Above all potassium is good for the heart and it can reduce blood pressure. But calcium is good for our bones and it can stop osteoporosis. For migraineurs, the problem is casein which can induce a migraine.
American cheese is a type of processed cheese. Specifically, it is a mixture of milk fats and solids, milk, whey protein concentrate, and other fats. Characteristics of American cheese are a good level of proteins and calcium, but high sodium and fat content. According to the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations, this cheese is a type of pasteurized processed cheese. Also, it has a lower level of tyramine and like that American cheese is a perfect replacement for other cheeses in your diet in order to prevent a migraine headache.
Benefits of cottage cheese are that it contains vitamins B and vitamin A. Also it is relatively low in fat, high in calcium and rich in protein. Some researches show that cottage cheese is also a good solution if you want to reduce weight. Beside that, this type of cheese is always fresh, never aged, and because of this it has a low level of tyramine. Therefore, cottage cheese has a lower level of tyramine and it is one of the best food for migraine headaches.
Everything over 0,5% and below 3% of butterfat from goat, cow and sheep milk is considered as low-fat milk. Of course, there are benefits and side effects if you are using only this type of milk.
For example, this type of milk has lower fat content, but lower fat content means a higher level of lactose.
Low-fat milk can provide B vitamins, vitamin A, vitamin E, and lots of proteins but much less than regular milk. With removing fat from a whole milk lots of vitamins and proteins are removed.
Therefore there is a chance of preventing a migraine using low-fat milk, especially goats milk. Because goats milk by itself has only 0.3% to 1.8% of fat. One research of the elimination diet, where people used the Oligoantigenic diet showed that the usage of goats milk prevented a migraine while cow milk induced a migraine.
Because a great number of fats and proteins are removed. the low-fat milk and goats milk are safe alternatives for some migraineurs. And the ingestion of low-fat milk especially goats milk can prevent a migraine.
Cereal/bread products in general – Benefits and disadvantages and their replacements
Cereals belong to the complex carbohydrates group of food. You can find them in different forms and because of it, they have wide use in our nutrition. Cereals are rich sources of carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, proteins, minerals, vitamins and oils. Because of soluble and insoluble fibers such as hemicellulose, pectin, and cellulose they can cure constipation troubles. On the other hand, cereals can cause migraine headaches especially sourdough, wheat cereal, bread, wheat, and corn. Specifically migraine trigger, in this case, is gluten intolerance.
Gluten, a family of proteins, is found in grains such as spelt, barley, wheat, and rye. Two main proteins of gluten are glutenin and gliadin, and it can cause migraines and health problems in general to certain people. Specifically to people who have gluten sensitivity, celiac disease or wheat allergy.
Therefore rice cereals, potato, and pasta are safe alternative food for migraineurs because of their composition.
Rice cereals are a name for industrially manufactured food and of course, they are based on rice. So why this type of cereal is a good replacement? For example white long-grained rice has 28% carbohydrates, 68% water, 3% protein, and negligible fat. So because of the composition, there is no gluten and intolerance problem. Therefore there is no gluten or intolerance induced migraines, and rice cereal is one of the best food for migraine headaches.
Concretely potato is a replacement for bread. If your organism shows intolerance with ingestion of some specific cereals through different food varieties, you could try to replace it with potato. Potato has an excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin B6, and a good source of potassium. Beside that potato is free of fat, cholesterol, and sodium. Also, a potato is a carbohydrate-rich vegetable and like that is highly nutritious. So you will not feel weak, exhausted or hungry. Therefore the potato is a perfectly safe alternative food.
Pasta is pretty much represented, especially in Italian cuisine. But you have to be careful because there are two types of gluten and gluten-free. Of course, the preferred use of gluten-free pasta. It is very nutritious, indeed. In fact, cooked pasta contains 6% of proteins, low fat, low micronutrient and 31% of carbohydrates.
Gluten-free pasta is made from rice flour or legumes such as lentils and black beans instead of wheat flour. As a result of this, there is a little different taste, color, and no gluten intolerance.
Also, you can enrich pasta with some other side dishes and have a nice nutritious meal. Or you could use pasta as a side dish and enrich other food.
This makes gluten-free pasta as an ideal solution for gluten and intolerance induced migraine.
Meats products in general – Benefit and disadvantages and their replacement
Meat products are quite important for our health and there are a lot of different vitamins and proteins in it. The amount and a variety of vitamins and proteins depend on the type of meat. In general, meat contains a large amount of protein and minerals, such as iron and zinc, also it is full of vitamins especially vitamin B12 and of course fats (including unhealthy). So the benefits and disadvantages depend on one type of meat to another.
Nitrites and nitrates are the main cause of a migraine headache in this case. This is mainly related to processed or canned meat. So the list of the best food for migraine headaches includes fresh meat as a replacement such as a lamb, chicken meat and some types of oily fish, such as salmon or tuna.
Lamb is an ideal source of iron, high in proteins, zinc, B vitamins, and thiamin.
Iron is very important for us, especially for the formation of the red blood cells. In fact, the average portion of lamb can contribute 12% of iron daily intake for women and 20% for men. This is because women need more iron than men.
Also, it can provide us zinc, specifically 45% of recommended daily intake, which is good for our immune system and growth.
Besides all the above, lamb is used in the Oligoantigenic diet which was proved as an excellent anti-migraine program.
Chicken is an excellent source of protein and vitamin B6. Also, it is high in amino acid tryptophan which works as an anti-depressant. On one hand, chicken skin has larger amounts of fat, on the other chicken breast has lesser fat but still rich with protein.
Beside lamb meat, the chicken was also used in the Oligoantigenic diet. The result was also the prevention of migraine headaches.
As far as the Oligoantigenic diet is concerned, I will make an effort to write about it soon.
Some oily fish
Oily fish is also known as bluefish. To this group belongs all eatable freshwater fish with a fat percentage higher than 2.5%. Lean or white fish, semi-fatty and fatty fish are three groups of oily fish. White or lean fish contains less than 2.5% fat, semi-fatty contains 2.5%-6% fat and fatty contains more than 6%.
White or lean fish: sea bass, hake, monkfish, grouper, hake, perch, sea bream, etc.
Semi-fatty: anchovies, mullet, tuna, etc.
Fatty: herring, salmon, swordfish, carp, etc.
In generally, oily fish are the richest source of omega 3 fatty acids, and they also contain DHA and EPA.
Omega 3 fatty acids benefits:
1. Reduce the risk of heart diseases
2. Increase good cholesterol
3. Protect from arteriosclerosis
4. Improves circulation
5. Works as anticoagulant
6. Control blood pressure
DHA and EPA fats benefits:
1. They work anti-inflammatory
DHA acts more on the brain, improves concentration and memory, and EPA effects more circulatory diseases.
You should balance eating omega 3 rich food, as far as oily fish considered it is recommended to eat 3-4 times a week.
As migraine is a type of vascular headache, and as it occurs as a consequence of vasodilation, with all of the above we can say that the oily fish is the best of the best food for migraine headaches. Firstly, as vasodilator DHA and EPA fats could contribute to the stabilization of blood flow and prevent a migraine headache. Secondly, these fatty acids improve circulation which can only help to the first statement. Basically, everything above is one huge plus for migraineurs and for prevention of one.
Vegetable products in general and their replacement
It is considered that people who eat lots of kinds of veggies have a rich diet because of many nutrients. Vegetables are low in fat and calories and they are a rich source of potassium, folate, vitamin C, vitamin A, and dietary fiber. Therefore, it lowers the risk of heart disease, obesity, and diabetes type 2, and it also reduces blood cholesterol and keeps our skin and eyes healthy. Also, it may lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of developing kidney stones.
Some vegetables could induce migraine headaches such as onion, beans, etc. The main reason for occurring a migraine with ingestion of vegetables and fruits is tyramine, PEA, nitrites and lots of amines. Therefore because of composition broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower are replacements for some of them.
Broccoli is maybe not the most favorite vegetable for many people, but it has many health benefits. Broccoli is an excellent source of vitamins such as B vitamins, vitamin K, vitamin C, and vitamin A. Also it is high in antioxidants and fiber. Some research even shows that broccoli may slow osteoarthritis, helps prevent cancer, specifically hormone related, such as prostate or breast cancer. Also, it improves digestion, immunity and it may prevent heart diseases.
As far as migraine is considered, it is assumed that the broccoli helps in the prevention of migraines and headaches in general.
Cabbage is full of minerals such as calcium, iron, zinc etc. Besides that, it also can provide electrolytes like sodium and potassium. It is also a great source of vitamins like niacin, folates, vitamin C, vitamin K and vitamin A. Phyto-nutrients such as carotene-A and carotene-B are also found in cabbage.
Therefore cabbage is good for the quality of skin and hair, benefits in the prevention of Alzheimer disease and cancer, maintain cardiovascular health, encourages proper digestion and it also benefits for weight loss. Cabbage also can prevent a migraine occurring.
Besides the fact that cauliflower is one of the best food for migraine headaches it also has a lot of other benefits in our nutrition. Cauliflower is rich with proteins and minerals and it provides us vitamin K, vitamin B6, vitamin C, carbohydrates, potassium, manganese, riboflavin, etc. Therefore it helps in reducing the risk of cancer, heart disease, inflammatory and maintain hormone balance. And beside all above, cauliflower can reduce the chance of occurring a migraine or even prevent one.
Soup products in general
You can find a lot of different kinds of soups, but which of those are good for migraineurs? Because of additives and Monosodium Glutamate (MSG), canned soup or soups from the bag which you can prepare for approximately 3-10 minutes are the worst possible solution for migraineurs. Because MSG is one of the main migraine triggers, I will write one article about it as soon as possible. There are a lot of researches that showed how MSG affects migraineurs. And because of the fact that homemade cream soup and broths don’t have MSG as an ingredient, it makes this food as a safe alternative.
Homemade cream soup and broths
In homemade cream soups, soups and broths we put ingredients such as chicken meat, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, yogurt, milk, champignon, etc. Basically, everything that is clean, fresh and free of additives and MSG. Because this is a mixture of fresh vegetables and meats it is one of the best food for migraine headaches. With homemade soups and broths, you are ingesting a lot of vitamins and proteins, and it benefits in the prevention of migraines and also it is extremely good for a stomach.
Fruit products in general
Fruits are a great source of vitamins, potassium, folate, etc. Ingestion of fruits is quite important for us and our health. Beside that fruit in our nutrition prevents some of the diseases it also improves our immune system. For migraine headache, this can be a little tricky, because some of the fruits can provoke migraine and the reason are tyramine, PEA or lots of amines. Therefore because of the composition bananas and apples could prevent a migraine headache. So you are still balancing your vitamins with no headache.
Bananas and apples
Bananas and apples as a safe food for migraines help in the prevention of occurring one, but they also have other benefits.
Bananas provide us vitamins like B12 and B6, magnesium, potassium and they are also high in fiber. Therefore it helps in lowering high blood pressure and help in treating constipation.
Apples are also full of vitamins, a rich source of antioxidants and fiber-rich apples help in treating intestinal disorders.
Desert products in general
The level of sugar in the blood is quite important for our health. So you have to regulate it and be careful. Of course we all like dessert, but if you ingest them in a large amount you can endanger your blood sugar levels and provoke a migraine headache. With this in mind, on this list as the best food for migraine headaches, we have sherbet, cake, cookies, and gelatin. Specifically homemade!
As the one common thing for all three ingredients is that they are homemade, this means that deserts for migraineurs are made from carefully selected foodstuffs. Foodstuffs such as fruits, water, some dairy products, sugar, etc.
Mostly, the main migraine triggers in desserts which are both are chocolate, licorice, and aspartame. As we already wrote about chocolate and PEA induced migraine in 27 foods that trigger migraines, there is no need to repeat me. And because of this, it is preferred to eat homemade desserts or buy some of it which doesn’t include chocolate or aspartame.
Snack products in general
Snacks, sweet or salty, are tasty and we all love to have them between breakfast and lunch or while we are watching a movie, or doing something else. Some of the most favorite snacks are maybe pizza, peanuts, peanut butter, chips, popcorns etc. But because of their composition, this kind of food could provoke a migraine headache, indeed. Fast and bought snacks are either made of something that is a possible migraine trigger or contains additives which can induce a migraine.
Considering that snacks can be some of the sweets it could contain aspartame or MSG if you buy the ones with chocolate in it. On the other hand, popcorn is made of corn and it can induce a migraine because it has a large level of sugar, it is highly allergenic and can also cause inflammatory. Crispy snacks like cheaps contain additives which helps in keeping food safe for a longer time and the same additives could provoke a migraine headache.
Therefore the best food for migraine headaches, in this case, are hard candy, jam, honey, and jelly. You can either buy it or make it.
Hard candy, jelly, jam, and honey
When you are buying hard candy you have to be careful, you can’t buy sugar-free candy because instead of a sugar various manufacturers use aspartame as a replacement. Some of the candies are based on sugar, either one or more sugar based syrups that are boiled on around 160 C. And these ones are the exact ones for safe use and migraine prevention. It is sweet, it’s providing you sugar and it can keep your mind away until lunch or another meal.
Of course, you can make hard candy, jelly, jam, and honey by yourself. So you can pick safe ingredients and make something for a snack or you can buy them. If you are buying it, you should maybe look for smaller manufacturers and farms where you can buy fresh, more naturally and additive-free products.
Besides the fact that honey is one of the best food for migraine headaches it can also prevent acid reflux, reduce the duration of diarrhea, heals wounds and burns, and it helps in fighting infections. It is also good for a dry cough when you mix it with proper ingredients.
Beverage products in general
When we are on a break or meeting someone, we either have a meal, drink some coffee or some other beverage.
When we say beverages as the best food for migraine headache we mean on the ones which don’t include histamine, tyramine, sulfites, aspartame, MSG, PEA, or caffeine. We already wrote about caffeine and caffeine withdrawal and you can read about it here.
With all the above as a replacement I suggest beverages like decaffeinated cola or coffee, some more natural juices, and if you like alcohol you could have white wine instead of red.
Decaffeinated cola, Decaffeinated coffee, and some juices
Because caffeine is removed from these beverages there is no chance of caffeine dependency, and when you stop drinking these, there is no caffeine withdrawal-induced migraine. Also, cola is based on sugar and there is no aspartame induced migraine.
As for the juices, if you have tyramine induced migraine you can use apple juice. If tyramine is not your problem then you could have pineapple, orange juice or any other. But you should buy fresh and more natural juices with no additives or aspartame.
As for alcoholic beverages, migraine is induced with histamine and sulfites such as red wine and beer. Therefore you can use white wine as a replacement because of a lower level of histamine. And of course maybe some types of vodkas or gins.
In brief best food for migraine headaches is the one which doesn’t contain histamine, tyramine, casein, PEA, MSG, sulfites, lots of amines and a concrete list of the best food for migraine headaches may vary from one migraineur to another.
When you establish what is your concrete dietary migraine trigger, you solved a puzzle. Then you look for food which contains none or the lower levels of „the thing“ that trigger a migraine headache.
For dietary migraineurs is also good to have a „Food Diary” which could help them in regulating their meals and to follow their progress.
In this article we named some of safe foods alternatives for prevention of migraine headache, I will make an effort to write about some kinds of the best food for migraine headaches for each specific trigger.