Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Headache triggers, what makes your headache?

It is common knowledge that headaches are mostly caused by stress, anxiety, glare, and noise. Less common triggers include sleep patterns, medications, hormones, and emotions. But did you know that diet is a factor, too? Many of the things we eat and drink are headache stimulants and we don’t even know it.

Coffee is known to alleviate headaches. But a recent study reported that people with excessive coffee consumption (or more than four cups a day) experienced non-migraine headaches 18-percent more times than those who consumed less.

Other caffeinated beverages like tea, hot chocolate, and carbonated drinks are headache triggers, too.

Alcoholic drinks contain tyramine and phenylethylamine, ingredients that prompt migraine attacks, especially in those who are prone to it. Alcohol is also associated with cluster headaches and that very familiar hangover, usually accompanied by a headache as well.

Cheese is a common headache culprit because of its tyramine content, a naturally-occurring compound in plants and animals. It is one of the most widely-recognized causes of headaches, known as “cheese syndrome” because this compound is found, in extremely high levels, in cheeses (particularly blue cheese, brie, cheddar, stilton, feta, gorgonzola, mozzarella, Muenster, parmesan, and Swiss).

Other foods with high tyramine levels can cause headaches, too. These include some kinds of beans (garbanzos, Lima, pinto), onions, olives, pickles, avocado, raisins, canned soups, and nuts.

Processed meats like hotdogs, hams, sausages, bacon, luncheon meats, pepperoni, and other meats that underwent curing contain tyramine, too. That and their sodium nitrite content make for a lethal chemical combination that triggers headaches and migraines.

It’s easy to deduce, then, that eating pizza with all those processed meats, cheeses, onions, and olives can give you a painfully mean throbbing in your head.

Foods high in monosodium glutamate are suggested to cause headaches. MSG is an additive and flavor enhancer most commonly found in Oriental dishes and seasonings (soy sauce) and many other packaged foods.

Citrus is a surprising headache trigger. Actually, it only is for people with enzyme deficiency. Fruits like oranges and lemons have amines that need to be neutralized and enzymes are required in doing so. People who lack them may experience headaches or migraines when consuming large amounts of citrus.

Cold foods, like ice cream, can also stimulate headaches among people who are overheated, due to exercise or warm weather. This is a simple brain freeze for some that can last for less than two minutes. But in others, it can be a full-blown headache, especially among those with migraine.

Read the complete original article here

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