Even the most committed Brain Warrior can get derailed when a pounding headache strikes, making you curl up on the couch rather than crushing that killer workout you’d planned. Approximately 40 million people are living with migraine and other severe headache disorders, according to the National Headache Foundation. And millions more feel the throbbing pain of an occasional headache.
If you’ve been practicing the Brain Warrior’s Way for a while, it will probably come as no surprise to you that foods containing MSG, caffeine, and alcohol can trigger headaches. But what you may not realize is that some foods we consider healthy have also been associated with headaches or migraines.
Some of these foods contain an amino acid called tyramine that has been associated with migraines. Tyramine is believed to be involved in the production of the hormone epinephrine, which is typically released in response to stress. Epinephrine temporarily constricts certain blood vessels in the brain and is followed by rebound dilation of those vessels. This pattern may be what leads to headaches, according to the National Headache Foundation.
Research also shows that foods containing histamine can contribute to migraines or aggravate headaches in some people. Most people think about allergies when they hear the word histamine, but this compound is involved in digestion and is found in a variety of foods. Some people have trouble processing foods with histamine and experience headaches as a result.
Here are 10 healthy foods that contain tyrosine or histamine and may trigger headaches:
- Avocados (tyramine)
- Bananas (tyramine)
- Broad beans (tyramine)
- Citrus fruits (tyramine)
- Snow peas (tyramine)
- Spinach (histamine)
- Strawberries (histamine)
- Sweet potato (tyramine)
- Tomatoes (histamine)
- Walnuts (tyramine)
Trigger foods can vary from person to person. If you’re eating a brain healthy diet but still experiencing headaches, you may want to keep a diet and headache journal to see if you can determine if any of the foods you eat are contributing to yours. I suggest you eliminate those foods temporarily to see if your headaches go away or become less severe.
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For more information about food sensitivities, click here.