A migraine is much more than a bad headache; unless you suffer from them it is difficult to appreciate just how debilitating they can be. Often people with a migraine can do nothing but lie still in a dark room waiting for the pain to pass. It can be accompanied by dizziness, nausea, vomiting and an increased sensitivity to light, smells and sound and can last for a few hours or days. Migraines affect about 15 per cent of adults in the UK, more women than men are affected.
It’s difficult to say what causes a migraine because it’s a neurological disorder affected by many factors. Fluctuating levels of hormones may be involved (hence the higher number of women affected). Other factors include: emotional, physical, environmental, medicinal and diet. The most common food culprits include dairy products (particularly cheese), chocolate, alcohol (particularly red wine), caffeine, citrus fruits, nuts, fried foods and foods containing monosodium glutamate (MSG) such as some Chinese food, processed meats, snacks and frozen pizzas. Other triggers include cigarette smoke, bright lights, hunger, certain drugs (such as sleeping tablets, HRT and the combined oral contraceptive pill), loud noises, strong smells, neck and back pain, stress and tiredness. Some people may experience a migraine following any one or a combination of these.
Allergy UK lists cheese as the third commonest cause of food-induced migraine after alcohol and chocolate.
The relationship between food allergy or intolerance and migraine is difficult to prove and, despite the evidence, remains a controversial subject. However, the possibility of cow’s milk allergy or intolerance should be considered in all cases of migraine.
Read more about Migraines.
Find out what you need to eat each day here.