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Question : I read that people who suffer from migraines should avoid sour cream, yogurt, nuts and peanut butter. Is that true?
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The Trusted Source
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Howard LeWine, M.D.

Howard LeWine, M.D., is chief editor of Internet Publishing, Harvard Health Publications. He is a clinical instructor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital. Dr. LeWine has been a primary care internist and teacher of internal medicine since 1978.

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May 06, 2014
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This may be true for some people with migraine. But the foods you mention are not on the usual list of the ones to avoid.

The foods and drinks well known to trigger headaches include:

  • Red wine. Of all alcoholic drinks, this one most often triggers a headache. Red wine contains the amino acid tyramine, which causes headaches in sensitive people. But some people with headaches are sensitive to all alcoholic drinks.
  • Aged foods. As cheese ages, the breakdown of the protein releases the amino acid tyramine. This is the same ingredient that is the cause of headaches related to red wine.
  • Processed foods. Foods like hot dogs and pepperoni often contain nitrates, another headache trigger. Some processed foods also are rich in tyramine.
  • Chocolate. A little bit of chocolate usually won't trigger a headache. When chocolate does cause a headache, tyramine is probably the culprit.

The best advice is to keep a food diary. Any time you get a headache, write down what you ate in the last 12 hours or so. Then you can see if there is any pattern.

To help decrease headache frequency, also ask yourself these questions:

  • Are you getting enough sleep and/or having an erratic sleep schedule?
  • Have you abruptly cut back on caffeine?
  • Are you taking a new medicine?

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