Do you suffer from debilitating migraines? A new two-part review titled, “Diet and Headache” suggests that the headaches could be provoked by the things we eat and drink — especially diets containing a lot of alcohol, processed foods high in nitrites, or monosodium glutamate (MSG).

Nitrites are preservatives found in processed meats such as bacon, sausage, ham and lunch meat. Meanwhile, MSG is heavily in Chinese food, and the ingredient is often found in frozen or canned foods, soups, international foods, snack foods, salad dressing, seasoning salts, ketchup, and barbecue sauce.

"You eliminate (the ingredients, or triggers) by eating fewer processed foods," researcher Vincent Martin, MD said in a press release from the University of Cincinnati. "You eat more natural things such as fresh vegetables, fresh fruits and fresh meats. MSG is most provocative when consumed in liquids such as soups."

Researchers extensively examined a literature review of more than 180 research studies on the subject of migraine and diet to reach these conclusions.

Moving forward, people can use this information to more carefully monitor their diets. Migraine sufferers could completely eliminate or avoid foods and beverages known to trigger headaches, or follow a comprehensive diet whose very composition may prevent headaches, according to Martin.

"Persons with headache and migraine have more dietary options than ever. Ultimately a healthy headache diet excludes processed foods, minimizes caffeine and includes a lot of fruits, vegetables, fish and lean meats,” Martin said in the release. "After all, you are what you eat.”

Sources: Martin VT, Vij B. Diet and Headache: Parts 1 and 2. Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain. 2016.

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