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Does your head hurt after eating or drinking? Know 6 food items that can trigger headaches

Headaches can have a various underlying causes, but did you know that sometimes having your favourite food or drink can make your head hurt?
Does wine cause headache
Getting a headache after drinking red wine is said to be common. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Natalia Ningthoujam Updated: 23 Nov 2022, 09:50 am IST
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What’s in your diet? It’s an important question that you should ask yourself as it can have answers to your health issues. For instance, there might be foods that often cause headaches. Some of the food items seem harmless to the body, but looks and tastes can be deceiving. Maybe your favourite wine or cheese could be the cause of your headaches!

If you have headaches frequently, a lot of it could depend on your genetic predisposition, informs nutritionist Anjali Mukerjee. She shared on Instagram that the more genetically prone you are, the more likely certain foods act to precipitate the headaches.

Sometimes, uncontrollable factors like weather changes, strong odours, perfumes and bright lights can trigger a headache. But what you choose to eat is in your control, so check out the list of foods known to cause a headache.

Foods and drinks that can cause headache

1. Red wine

Quantity clearly matters as some might get headache with just one glass. Others might get headaches after taking one or two to three glasses. According to Harvard Health Publishing, getting a headache after drinking red wine seems to be quite common. But there is no single explanation even though there are several theories related to red wine and headaches.

As per one theory, histamine, which is a compound found in grape skins is the culprit. It is found more in red wine than white wine as the former is made from the whole grape (including the skin), and not just the juice.

Some might have a shortage of an enzyme that helps in breaking down histamine in the small intestine. Alcohol also inhibits the enzyme, so the combination might boost histamine levels in the blood. This can dilate blood vessels and ultimately cause a headache.

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2. Cheese

It consists of tyramine that is believed to cause blood vessels to constrict, leading to a headache. As per the National Headache Foundation, tyramine is a vaso-active amino acid that is found in food item, and it precipitates headaches in some people.

Also read: Headaches can be of 6 different types, know the cure for each of them

cheese and headache
Eat cheese with caution. weight. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

3. Chocolate

Eating just one chocolate might not give you a headache. But eating four to five pieces or a whole box of chocolate might give you a splitting headache as it also contains tyramine.

4. Milk

If you are lactose-intolerant, milk is a common trigger for headache. But according to National Library of Medicine, a study was conducted to find dairy consumption in relation to primary headaches among a large population of students aged 18 years or older. It was found that dairy consumption was inversely associated with primary headaches among the students.

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5. Citrus fruits

They contain octopamine, which is a substance that triggers headaches. People who cannot tolerate acidic fruits can also get a headache from sweet lime, oranges, lemons and grapefruits.

6. Artificial sweeteners

Artificial sweeteners contain aspartame, which reduces the dopamine levels and triggers headaches.

artificial sweeteners have side effects
Artificial sweeteners have side effects. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

According to National Library of Medicine, a study was done to assess the importance of aspartame as a dietary factor in headache. Nearly 200 consecutive patients of the Montefiore Medical Center Headache Unit were questioned about the effect of aspartame, alcohol and carbohydrates in triggering their headaches. It was concluded that aspartame might be an important dietary trigger of headache in some people.

So, the next time you wonder why did you get that headache, rewind to your eating and drinking habits.

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About the Author

Natalia Ningthoujam has written on various subjects - from music to films and fashion to lifestyle - as a journalist in her career that started in 2010. After getting stories from the crime scene, police headquarters, and conducting interviews with celebrities, she is now writing on health and wellness which has become her focus area. ...Read More

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