worst foods and drinks for migraines

Beating Migraines: A Look at Dietary Triggers and Effective Treatments

In this article, we will explore the 10 worst foods and drinks for migraines, the causes behind their impact, prevention strategies and treatments like VYEPTI, a prescription medication used for the preventive treatment of migraine in adults.

Worst Foods & Drinks for Migraines

A combination of genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors can trigger migraine attacks. Among these, certain foods and drinks have been identified as common culprits due to their ability to trigger migraines. Here are some of the common food triggers.

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1. Tyramine-rich Foods

Tyramine is a natural compound found in aged and fermented foods, such as aged cheeses, smoked or cured meats, pickled foods and alcoholic beverages like wine and beer. Tyramine can lead to blood vessel constriction and dilation, potentially triggering migraines.

2. Caffeinated Beverages

While caffeine can provide temporary relief for some individuals, excessive consumption or sudden withdrawal from caffeinated drinks, like coffee, tea and energy drinks, can trigger migraines.

3. Artificial Sweeteners

Aspartame, saccharin and sucralose, commonly used in diet sodas and sugar-free products, are linked to migraine attacks in some individuals. They can trigger a cascade of neurochemical changes in the brain.

4. Processed Foods

Foods containing MSG (monosodium glutamate), nitrates and nitrites, often found in processed meats, snacks and canned foods, can act as migraine triggers.

5. Alcohol

Alcoholic beverages, especially red wine, beer and spirits, contain compounds like tyramine, histamines and sulfites, which can contribute to migraines.

6. Aged Cheeses

As mentioned earlier, aged cheeses like blue cheese, cheddar and gouda contain high levels of tyramine, making them potential migraine triggers.

7. Chocolate

While chocolate is beloved by many, it contains both caffeine and tyramine, making it a double threat for migraine-prone individuals.

8. Salty Foods

High-sodium foods, such as salty snacks, processed meats and fast food, can lead to dehydration, which is a known migraine trigger.

9. Dairy Products

Some individuals may experience migraines as a result of lactose intolerance or a sensitivity to certain dairy proteins.

10. Artificial Food Additives

Artificial colors, preservatives and flavor enhancers (like MSG) can trigger migraines in susceptible individuals.


Avoiding migraine triggers is essential for preventing attacks. Here are some strategies to minimize the risk of migraines.

1. Keep a Food Diary

Tracking your diet and migraine episodes can help identify specific trigger foods or drinks unique to your condition.

2. Adopt a Migraine-friendly Diet

Embrace a diet rich in whole, unprocessed foods, vegetables, fruits, lean proteins and healthy fats, while minimizing or eliminating trigger foods.

3. Stay Hydrated

Drink plenty of water throughout the day to prevent dehydration, a common migraine trigger.

4. Limit Alcohol and Caffeine

Moderate alcohol consumption and gradually reducing caffeine intake can help prevent migraines.

Treatment Options

When migraines strike, various treatment options can help alleviate the pain and symptoms:

1. Over-the-Counter Medications

For mild to moderate migraines, over-the-counter pain relievers like Ibuprofen and Acetaminophen can provide temporary relief. However, excessive use of these medications may lead to rebound headaches.

2. Prescription Medications

In more severe cases, doctors may prescribe medications specifically designed to treat migraines, such as VYEPTI, a prescription medication that helps treat migraines.

3. CGRP Inhibitors

Calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) inhibitors, like Amovig, are a newer class of medications that target CGRP, a neuropeptide involved in migraine attacks. These injections can be administered monthly or quarterly to prevent migraines.

4. Cefaly Device

Cefaly is an FDA-approved external trigeminal nerve stimulation device that can be used to prevent and treat migraines. It helps to modulate pain signals in the brain.

Final Notes

Migraines are severe headaches that can cause debilitating pain, sensitivity to light and sound, nausea and visual disturbances. While various factors contribute to migraine attacks, diet plays a crucial role in triggering or exacerbating these painful episodes.

Migraine headaches can be a significant hindrance to a person's quality of life, and identifying and avoiding trigger foods and drinks can be an effective prevention strategy. By adopting a migraine-friendly diet and making lifestyle changes, individuals prone to migraines can reduce the frequency and intensity of their attacks.

In cases where migraines do occur, a combination of over-the-counter medications, prescription drugs like Amovig and Nurtec, and Cefaly device therapy can help manage the pain and associated symptoms effectively. However, it's essential to consult with a healthcare professional to determine the most suitable treatment plan for individual needs. With the right approach and care, individuals can gain better control over their migraines and enjoy a more fulfilling life.

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