That Headache Might Not Be Because Of Your Boss: Six Surprising Foods That Can Cause Headaches
We all get the occasional headache from time to time–we usually attribute it to hours of staring at a computer screen, forgetting to drink enough water, having one too many adult beverages the night before. And these are indeed all legitimate causes of headaches.
However, there are also some surprising foods that contain ingredients that have been known to trigger headaches–and some of them may surprise you
• Aged cheeses – Who doesn’t love a good quality cheese on occasion? However, that aged cheddar or Swiss might be causing your noggin to come a knocking. Cheddar and Swiss, along with Camembert and Bleu Cheese contain an amino acid called tyramine, which has been shown to cause headaches in lab studies if you are lacking in the enzyme needed to break down tyramine. It is also thought to trigger the release of the stress hormone norepinephrine, which in combination with elevated blood pressure may be the cause of headaches.
• Red wine – Of course, we all know that knocking back one too many red wines–or pretty much any other kind of alcohol–has a dehydrating effect that can cause morning headaches the day after. But red wine in particular is a bad choice for those who are prone to getting headaches as it contains tannins, a flavonoid in the grape’s skin that gives wine its dry, slightly acidic taste. Studies show that tannins can prompt the release of headache-causing chemicals in your brain called prostaglandins. Good news, however, for lovers of the vine: there are lower tannin varieties that may have less chance of having this effect on your cabeza, like cabernet sauvignon and merlot. Sorry, Malbec lovers; you’ll just have to deal with the brain ache.
• Cured meats and fish – These guys are afflicted with the same problem as aged cheese, in that they contain tyramine. The other problem especially with cured meats like salami and pepperoni is that they contain high levels of nitrates and nitrites, which also are known to cause headaches by opening up the blood vessels and thus increasing blood flow to the brain.
• Coffee and other caffeinated beverages – As mentioned above, the dilation or opening up of blood vessels in the brain causes headaches, which makes it somewhat counterintuitive that coffee and other caffeinated beverages might cause headaches, as caffeine is a vasoconstrictor. But what nutritionists and researchers think is going on when you get a headache after drinking coffee is that you are actually experiencing the “caffeine rebound” or sudden withdrawal after drinking too much of it.