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10 Foods That Trigger Headaches


What is a headache?

A headache is a pain or discomfort in the head, scalp, or neck. Headaches can range from mild to severe and can be a symptom of a variety of underlying conditions. Headaches are one of the most common medical complaints and affect people of all ages and genders.

There are several types of headaches, including tension headaches, migraine headaches, cluster headaches, and sinus headaches. Each type of headache has its own set of symptoms and may be triggered by different factors.

Common symptoms of headaches may include pain or pressure in the head, neck, or scalp, sensitivity to light or sound, nausea or vomiting, and difficulty concentrating. The duration and intensity of a headache can vary depending on the type and cause of the headache.


What type of headache is related to food consumption?

Food consumption can trigger several types of headaches, including:

1. Migraine headaches: Certain foods and drinks are known to trigger migraines in some people, such as aged cheese, chocolate, alcohol (particularly red wine), caffeine, and processed meats. Migraines triggered by food are sometimes referred to as “food migraines.”

2. Tension headaches: Certain foods can also trigger tension headaches in some people, such as foods containing MSG, nitrates, or tyramine.

3. Cluster headaches: While the exact cause of cluster headaches is unknown, some people may find that certain foods or drinks trigger their cluster headaches.

It’s important to note that not everyone will experience headaches after consuming these foods, and triggers can vary from person to person.

Foods That Cause Headaches

Some foods known for triggering headaches include:

  • 1. Alcohol: Alcohol can trigger headaches in several ways. Firstly, it can cause dehydration, which is a common headache trigger. Secondly, some alcoholic drinks, particularly red wine, contain histamines and sulfites, which can cause headaches in some people. Finally, alcohol can also increase blood flow to the brain, which can lead to headaches.
  • 2. Caffeine: While caffeine can help relieve headaches in some people, it can also trigger headaches in others. Caffeine can cause vasoconstriction, or narrowing of blood vessels in the brain, which can lead to headaches. Additionally, caffeine withdrawal can also cause headaches.
  • 3. Aged cheese: Aged cheeses contain tyramine, an amino acid that can cause headaches in some people. Tyramine can cause blood vessels to constrict and then dilate, leading to headaches.
  • 4. Processed meats: Processed meats contain nitrites and nitrates, which can cause headaches in some people. Nitrites and nitrates can cause blood vessels to dilate, leading to headaches.
  • 5. MSG: MSG is a flavour enhancer that is found in many processed foods and restaurant meals. MSG can cause headaches in some people, likely due to its effect on blood vessels.
  • 6. Citrus fruits: Citrus fruits, particularly lemons and limes, contain high levels of citric acid, which can cause headaches in some people.
  • 7. Avocado: Avocado contains tyramine, the same amino acid found in aged cheese, which can cause headaches in some people.
  • 8. Bananas: Bananas contain tyramine, as well as serotonin, both of which can cause headaches in some people.
  • 9. Onions: Onions contain sulfites, which can trigger headaches in some people.
  • 10. Nuts: Nuts, particularly peanuts, walnuts, and almonds, contain tyramine, which can cause headaches in some people.

However, it’s important to note that triggers can vary from person to person.

Aged cheese

What to do if you suspect food is causing your migraine

If you suspect that a certain food or drink may be triggering your headaches, here are some tips to help you identify the culprit:

  • 1. Keep a headache diary: Keep a record of the foods and drinks you consume and the times when you experience headaches. This can help you identify patterns and possible triggers.
  • 2. Eliminate potential triggers: Try eliminating the foods and drinks that are commonly known to trigger headaches for a period of time, such as one to two weeks, and see if your headaches improve. You can then gradually reintroduce these foods one at a time to see if they trigger a headache.
  • 3. Consider the preparation and ingredients: Pay attention to the preparation and ingredients of the foods you eat. For example, a certain type of food may not trigger a headache for you if it’s fresh, but it may trigger a headache otherwise.
  • 4. Check food labels: Read the labels of packaged foods and drinks to see if they contain potential headache triggers, such as caffeine or MSG.
  • 5. Seek professional help: If you’re having trouble identifying your headache triggers, or if your headaches are severe or frequent, consider seeking help from a healthcare professional. They may be able to get to the bottom of what’s causing your headaches.

Remember that individual triggers can vary, so what triggers headaches for one person may not trigger headaches for another. Keeping a headache diary and being mindful of what you eat and drink can help you identify your personal triggers and manage your headaches more effectively. If you’re experiencing frequent headaches or migraines, that doesn’t respond to personal changes consider consulting with an experienced alternative healthcare personnel to assist you.

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The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained on this website are for informational purposes only. The purpose of this website is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

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