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Foods That Can Trigger a Migraine

If you are one of the millions of migraine sufferers in the world, preventing a migraine attack could be as easy as monitoring the foods you consume.  Migraine sufferers may not be aware of several common food triggers. 

In some instances, migraines can be brought about by a type of allergic reaction to specific foods.  If your migraine attacks are triggered by histamine rich foods, you are essentially dealing with a food allergy. 

If histamine rich roods are your trigger, then there are several different strategies you can utilize to prevent the migraine from developing.   

The Elimination Diet:

The most fool-proof strategy is to avoid the foods that cause you to have a migraine attack.  The best approach to a food elimination diet is to eliminate ALL of the listed foods for 2 weeks.  At that point, re-introduce one food at a time every 2 weeks.  If you develop a migraine after eating a specific food, then eliminate it entirely from your diet.  This approach will take a considerable amount of time and dedication, but will yield the best results. 

Foods to Avoid

    • Alcohol is a leading culprit in this category.  You want to be careful to avoid red wine and champagne.  Red wine, in particular, can have up to 200% more histamines than white wine.  If you are planning on drinking alcohol the better options are whiskey, gin, and vodka.  These tend to contain the least amounts of histamine.
    • Smoked or processed meats: Fresh meat contains very low or no levels of histamine and would be a healthier option.
    • Vegetables: Spinach, avocado, eggplant, tomato and tomato products, mushrooms, canned vegetables, peppers, beans, cabbage, beets
    • Fruits:  Bananas, mango, strawberries, raspberries, pineapples, papayas, grapefruit, tangerines, red prunes, kiwi
    • Condiments:  Red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, cheese, mustard, ketchup
    • Spices:  Cinnamon, anise, cloves, mustard seeds, cumin, coriander, chervil, ginger, nutmeg, vanilla
    • Sunflower seeds
    • Chocolate/cocoa
    • Coffee
    • Soy:  found in tofu, cooking oil, margarine, tempeh, mayonnaise
    • Leftovers - Bacteria on the food will produce increased levels of histamine if left at room temperature in the refrigerator.  Remember to always freeze your leftovers to halt histamine production.


Taking an antihistamine one hour before consuming histamine rich foods will suppress the histamine induced swelling, thereby thwarting a migraine.  This should not be your only method for migraine prevention, but it can help in situations were you are not able to avoid histamine producing foods.  Common over the counter antihistamines include Benadryl, Alavert, Claritin, and Zyrtec.  As always, if you are consuming alcoholic beverages, please make sure there are no adverse side-effects.

Beneficial Foods:

If you would like to stick to a more natural method, you can consume foods that will naturally lower the histamine levels in your body.  Sunflower seeds, beef, eggs, cottage cheese, chicken, fish, pork, liver, sardines, yogurt, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, and lentils are all good options for consumption.

Nutritional Supplements:

A final option is to take nutritional supplements that will help decrease the histamine levels in the body and aid the body in optimum performance.

    • Quercetin: 250-600 mg per day in divided doses
    • Vitamin C: 2000 mg per day reduces histamine levels by 40%
    • B6: 25 mg three times a day
    • Magnesium (citrate): 360 mg per day
    • Calcium (citrate): 800 mg per day
    • Common herbs: stinging nettle, licorice root, chamomile, ginger, thyme, basil, spirulina, echinacea


Keep in mind that there are many different "triggers" for migraines.  Each person should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.  If these suggestions do not alleviate the problem, do not give up hope.  Help is just around the corner.

As always, please consult your physician before changing any prescribed medication or if you have any questions about combining medications. 


In Health and Wellness,

Dr. Darcy Koehn, D.C.



Foothills Chiropractic & Wellness

9142 W Ken Caryl Ave Unit D2

Littleton, CO 80128


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