Foods that Cause Headaches

Posted by on Jan. 25, 2013

Headache, however mild, can be a nuisance. You might not know this but aside from your health condition and lifestyle, there are some food items that can actually trigger headaches. Dietary habits also play a role – and no, it’s not just restrictive diets, skipping meals, or malnutrition. Sometimes, the contents from certain foods can also be the trigger for migraines and headaches.

Here are just a few of them that may be the cause of your headache.

Foods that contain additives

Nitrates and MSG (monosodium glutamate) are common headache triggers. Additives or preservatives in food constrict blood vessels. Examples of food that you commonly eat that cause headaches include hops, pizza, and other commercially-processed foods. Aspartame and other artificial sweeteners can also cause head pains.

Foods containing tyramine

Foods that age or ferment, such as aged cheese contain tyramine. Tyramine helps in the protein break down process in the body. Although the role of tyramine in headaches is still debatable, most experts recommend a tyramine-free diet, which should be strictly followed by those who take drugs containing monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors.


When drinking alcoholic beverages, the blood flow to the brain increases, along with pressure in the cranial regions. Other compounds in alcoholic beverages also decrease the serotonin levels in the brain, which can aggravate an already-aching head. New research also shows that phytochemicals called phenols, which are present in wine cause headaches as well.

Cold foods

Familiar with brain freeze? Cold foods are known to cause headaches for some people, especially if you eat them after your body’s temperature rise because of an activity or a warm environment.

[Photo Credit: Leonid Mamchenkov on Flickr]

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