After retracing her day, Charlene realized that the three delicious tangerines were the culprit. She thought she was just enjoying a very tasty, healthy snack, but she was also triggering pain.
Some experts say that citrus and other foods may trigger headaches because the people consuming them may have an enzyme deficiency. The enzyme they are lacking is necessary for neutralizing amines in foods. Some foods have large quantities of amines, and without the enzyme, headaches (and even migraines) can be stimulated.
Still, gobbling up an orange (or three) might seem harmless. If you are one of the 28 million Americans who suffer from migraines, taking note of how foods affect your body could be critical in preventing future headaches. One new theory is that craving certain foods could also signal a coming migraine. These kinds of migraines are also made more unpredictable because eating the food may not trigger pain every single time, and because food could team up with other triggers (like bright lights or stress) to induce a migraine.
Some other foods and beverages thought to trigger headaches include:
- Aged cheese and those cheeses containing tyramine, a natural substance that builds up as food ages. Tyramine in high levels has been shown to cause hypertension, which is a particular concern for people who take MAO inhibitor medication to treat migraines. Blue cheese, brie, cheddar, Stilton, feta, gorgonzola, mozzarella, muenster, Parmesan, Swiss, and processed cheeses often contain high levels of tyramine.
- Other salted, cured, processed, and canned foods that are high in tyramine. Take note of how your body reacts when you eat pickles, olives, and canned soups. Beans can also contain headache-triggering tyramine, especially fava, pinto, garbanzo, and lima beans.
- Alcohol, which could prompt headaches as it is metabolized in the body. Pay particular attention when you drink red wine, beer, whiskey, and champagne, which have been identified as triggers.
There is a long list of foods that headache and migraine sufferers say cause their pain. Some of them might surprise you, including:
- Peanuts and peanut butter
- Potato chips
- Fresh fruits like kiwi, plums, and raspberries
- Bread and crackers