Food is often regarded as a potential trigger of migraine attacks, both by patients and by doctors. We have to be very careful though to what extend we regard food as actual trigger factors. I don’t want to give the impression here that the opinions of patients are not taken seriously, quite the opposite. I just want to emphasize the fact that preconceptions are made easily and spread quickly. It is understandable that you want to believe every simple explanation if you have a debilitating disorder such as migraine. However, migraine is not that simple. Please try – and that generally goes for all aspects and trigger of migraine – to be as objective as possible if someone wants to explain the egg of Columbus to you.
A glass of sparkling wine in the afternoon
The following foods are particularly often quoted as migraine triggers:
- dairy products
- citrus fruits
- fried food
- cereal products
- sea food
Around 20% of migraine patients report that food triggers play an important role, especially alcohol. Generally, this is true for all alcoholic drinks. Some patients claim that it is only certain alcoholic drinks, such as red wine or sparkling wine.
What is interesting is that not only the alcoholic drink plays a role but also the time of day during which it is consumed. There are people for which for example sparkling wine after 8 p.m. is without consequences but during the early afternoon at a farewell party of a colleague it almost certainly triggers a migraine attack.
Coffee: a small glimmer of hope
After much “could be”, “possibly” or “maybe”, one finding by now is well supported by studies: the relationship between caffeine and migraine attacks. In a double-blind randomized cross-over study it was found that if subjects, who usually drink up to six cups of coffee a day, switch to decaffeinated coffee, this resulted in a higher probability of migraine attacks. The headache usually start on the first day of skipping caffeine and last on average about 2 to 3 days.
A natural, balanced diet is undoubtedly healthier than processed industrial food and a monotonous diet. Abstaining from drugs like alcohol and tobacco is another important aspect of a healthy diet. Special dieting programs such as Evers diet, F. X. Mayr diet and others were developed. Except for the avoidance of special trigger factors, a specific effect of special diets in headache therapy has not been proven by controlled scientific studies.