In light of my past week I thought I would look in to what had been causing my migraines. It had been a week or so of off and on migraines, not medication would help, no real triggers, but could not seem to get rid of them. Well I came across a diet called the Migraine Elimination Diet, and I thought I would check it out and share it with everyone!
The migraine elimination diet is not really a diet, but in fact a process of elimination change in your current diet to see if the food you are eating has anything to do with why someone is getting migraines in the first place. Some common questions about this diet are --
Why do people follow this diet?
Some people with migraine may be sensitive to certain chemicals that occur naturally in foods. The chemicals that most commonly trigger migraines are tyramine and other amines, including phenylethylamine and histamine. Amines can trigger migraines because they are vasoactive substances that act directly on small blood vessels to expand their capacity.
Foods that contain tannins, compounds that occur naturally in plants, can also trigger migraines. Researchers are not certain what the exact relationship is, but many agree that the neurotransmitter serotonin is involved.
Do I stay on this diet permanently?
No. The migraine elimination diet is a testing diet. It is unrealistic to permanently eliminate these foods from the diet. After learning what the offending food groups are, additional testing can be done with different quantities to learn how much of each food will cause symptoms. This way, a person will know what their limits are and still be able to enjoy eating these foods.
What are the guidelines of the migraine elimination diet?
Foods that are known to trigger migraines are systematically eliminated to identify offending food groups. Each food group is avoided for six weeks, or long enough to see if it causes an improvement in migraine symptoms.
Step 1: Eliminate amine foods
Tyramine is a chemical called a monoamine that is found in higher concentrations in foods that have been fermented, such as aged cheddar, red wines, and blue cheese. American and cottage cheese can be substituted. Foods containing tyramine include:
*Yogurt, buttermilk, sour cream, dried milk
*Tofu, soy sauce, miso, tempeh
*Smoked, cured, or pickled fish or meat
*Lima beans, Italian beans, lentils, navy beans, pinto beans, fava beans, broad beans
*Oranges, citrus fruit
*Plums, Prunes, or Figs
In addition to tyramine, foods containing the chemical phenylethylamine should also be eliminated. These foods include:
*Berry pie filling or canned berries
Foods that containe histamine or cause the release of histamine should be eliminated. These include:
*Beef, pork (can eat lamb or chicken instead, these are safe foods for most people)
*Cheese, especially yellow ripened
*Processed meat, such as salami
*Soy, tempeh, tofu, miso, tamari
*Tomato, tomato sauce, tomato paste
*Yeast and foods containing yeast
Step 2: Eliminate food additives
Some people react to the food additives such as artificial sweeteners, flavor enhances, and food coloring found in processed and packaged fast foods. These foods include:
*Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is sometimes added as a flavor enhancer in Chinese dishes. It is also found in commercial soups, soy sauce, salad dressings, frozen dinners, soup mix, croutons, stuffing, and some chips. It is also disguised in the label as sodium caseinate, hydrolyzed proteins, or autolyzed yeast.
*Aspartame and other artificial sweeteners can trigger migraines in some people.
*Food coloring, especially FD&C yellow dye #5 and red dye #40, are known to trigger migraines in some people. Check labels, as both are found in common foods such as beverages, ice cream, candy, and some cereals.
*Nitrites and nitrates are found in bacon, luncheon meats, smoked ham, and hot dogs.
Step 3: Eliminate foods that contain tannin
*Red skinned apples and pears
*Tea and coffee
*Apple Juice, Apple Cider
*Black and Red Beans
*Apricots, ripe bananas, unripe peaches
*Persimmons, pomegranates, dates, currants, nectarines
Step 4: Eliminate or reduce caffeine
Although some people find that coffee helps migraines by constricting blood vessels, the blood vessels can swell beyond their original size causing an even worse rebound headache. If using a decaffeinated coffee substitute, be sure to use one that has been Swiss water processed — the chemicals that are used in the decaffeination process can trigger headaches.
In addition to coffee, tea and sodas containing caffeine should also be avoided.
A person may have other food sensitivities that may be involved in migraine symptoms. A nutritionist or holistic practitioner can conduct complete testing and create a customized treatment plan.