Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Tomatoes

Tomatoes get a bad rap, mainly because of what foods they accompany, or what additives are put in tomato sauce. Yes, tomatoes can be a trigger for some due to high amounts of free glutamate (not to be confused with an aversion to wheat gluten), but for most migraine sufferers tomatoes are perfectly fine, by themselves. Tomatoes are extremely healthy and may even help aid in weight loss! So, don't knock them before you give them a fair chance. Tomato sauce, spaghetti sauce or pizza sauce usually has onion powder added to it, and possibly other additives, which may trigger a migraine. Pizza dough has fresh-risen yeast which contains tyramine, and pizza toppings contain nitrates and possibly MSG. If you make your own italian food at home (which contains tomatoes), and you haven't added any onion powder or onions to the sauce, maybe it's the salad dressing (fermentation) which has triggered your headache. And remember, it could possibly be something you ate from the day before. So, before you blame your headache on tomatoes, which many tolerate well, be sure it isn't something else causing you havoc. After you have removed every migraine trigger from your diet for quite some time, if you still suspect tomatoes, then eliminate them for two to four weeks. If you notice no difference, add them back in. Happy eating!

31 comments:

  1. Hi, Heidi, I've been 123ing since October. I was wondering about your comment regarding free glutamate. In the book, Doc Buchholz says that he isn't sure what element in these foods is the actual trigger. It did seem likely to me that free glutamate was part of it after looking up the numbers, but then I also checked the numbers for the allowed foods, and wasn't sure. For example, 100 grams of raw sweet onion has 177 mg of gluatmic acid, and 100 grams of leek has 226 mg of glutamic acid. So it seems like there has to be something else at work here! (numbers from USDA SR-21 via nutritiondata.com)
    -Liz

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  2. Hello ammitnox. I'm glad you are on the 1-2-3 Program! Thank you for commenting. Did the list distinguish between bound and free glutamate? On page 88 of Dr. Buchholz's book, there is a reference to free glutamate in tomatoes, mushrooms and peas under the heading "Other Dietary Items." I hope you are not eating sweet onion, as that is not a safe food due to high levels of tyramine. I think though, from your post, I understand that you were just comparing the two. I hope that helps. Best wishes on your continued migraine-free journey.

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  3. i am in the 123ing since a month now and it is working. question about onions: are red onions as bad as sweet/white onions? thanks for sharing!

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  4. Thanks for posting. I'm glad the 1-2-3 Program is working for you! That's great to hear. Yes, red onions should be avoided too, and so should onion powder. You may eat shallots, leeks, green onions (spring onions), and even garlic. I hope that helps, and keep up the good work!

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  5. I haven't tried shallots, but green onions and leeks give me a headache, even when well cooked. They smell and taste like regular onions, except not as strong, so it doesn't surprise me that they give me a headache like onions.

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  6. Anonymous, have you read "Heal Your Headache" yet? I have no doubt that the smells might trigger a headache for you since they are similar to that of onions, but leeks and green onions themselves shouldn't as they don't contain enough tyramine to trigger one. And, if you follow the diet outlined in the book, it will help so that the smells trigger less for you too!

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    1. Came here via a google search. I was making magical leek soup and got a headache when I ate it. The smell of them cooking didn't bother me at all. Before that, I was drinking the water it boiled in, and got a headache. There's another website where lots of people are complaining about onions giving them migraines. Just an fyi

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  7. Hi Heidi! I seem to be ok with cooked tomatoes, but not raw. Just another thing for people to try. (Joneja, who writes about food intolerances, noted that a cooked vegetable or fruit that had caused problems can sometimes be more tolerable than the raw form, just like Buchholz mentions about onions if adding them back in.) Thanks for your post!

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  8. I was wondering if yellow tomatoes would contain the same amount on tryamine? They are less acidic and are slighly different in nutrients.
    Any idea? Id sure like to have spaghetti again.
    Tomatoes are a real trigger for me. Even the smell!
    idamama

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  9. Hi Helena! Somehow I missed your post. I apologize for not responding. Yes, the cooked form may pose less problems for some people than the raw form. Thanks for sharing!

    Hi idamama. Tomatoes pose a problem for some people not mainly because of tyramine, but because of the high amounts of free glutamate. An overly ripe tomato may have higher amounts of tyramine, so fresh is best, but it is the free glutamate that is most likely bothering you if tomatoes are in fact a trigger for you. A good test is to see if you have problems with mushrooms and peas also (after you have eliminated all other triggers from your diet, of course). If so, I would avoid yellow tomatoes as well. I'm sorry to be the bearer of unhappy news. I have heard of people making spaghetti with squash. It wouldn't be exactly the same, but maybe it would work as a substitute?

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  10. Hi Heidi, I have just stumbled across this post. I have suffered from migraines for about 7yrs now (I am 25), to no avail of figuring them out, and have just begun eliminating foods. I have had a week of no tomatoes (or anything containing tomato), and so far, so good - no headaches! Interesting reading your post tho :) thanks!

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  11. I'm so glad. I hope that continues for you.

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  12. Hi Heidi,

    I have a few questions. I've been researching allowable foods and am confused about Rice Vinegar, Nutritional Yeast Flakes and Sesame Oil. Can you tell me if these are allowed and if not, why? I've read vinegar is not allowed unless it is distilled white vinegar. I assumed every other vinegar is not allowed but I'm confused as to why. I read in other places that lighter vinegar may be ok.

    Also, I came across some vegetarian recipes that use Nutrional Yeast flakes as a substitute for cheese flavoring. I wanted to buy it but hesitated because of yeast. Again, I'm wondering why yeast isn't allowed. I ate a very natural bread from Whole Foods made with sprouted wheat but noticed yeast is in it. (as in a great majority of breads) Is "yeast" in particular a problem? Many commercial breads have yeast. So I'm wondering if it should be avoided all together? I did find a recipe for a bread made just with wheat flour and water and might consider it.

    I noticed when I deviate from this diet even a little that I seem to get a headache. It's strange! But I think it definitely helps with pain management. I do take a preventative med daily but noticed the diet is necessary for it to work well. (just sharing this in case others read this post)

    Thanks for any help you can offer.

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  13. Hello Frances,

    Any type of vinegar is fermented, and can therefore possibly trigger headaches, especially if not eaten in small amounts. Darker vinegars may contain sulfites along with other migraine-triggering chemicals produced during fermentation. White vinegar, ideally distilled, will have less of these chemicals. Therefore, distilled white vinegar is allowable, yet may still trigger in large amounts. See p. 85 in Dr. Buchholz's book for more information on that if you wish. There are many different types of rice vinegar, and the safest is white rice vinegar. However, many already-prepared foods don't use this type, and if you're using it yourself to cook with, you'll have to add more of it to have the same amount of kick as distilled white vinegar because it is more mild, unless mild is of course what you're going for.

    Nutritional yeast has high levels of free glutamate. This may or may not be a trigger for you. If tomatoes are okay, then the flakes probably are too, but the only way to be sure is to heal, then try them for several days to see. I'm not entirely positive about this though, as I don't know a lot about nutritional yeast. You've given me something else to research! Yeast itself is not a trigger if you wait 24 hours or more to eat it after it is baked. It's the fresh-baked yeast products that will give you trouble due to tyramine.

    If you're going to use sesame oil, make sure it isn't toasted. Cold-pressed is probably your best option, as it is the lightest and best prepared. I don't really see a problem with sesame oil as long as it is expellar-pressed/cold-pressed.

    I hope that helps. Thanks for posting, and I wish you well.
    Heidi

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  14. Hi Heidi, I just came across your site through google search...migraines and onions. I just obtained the Dr. Buchholz book (just started reading) and was wondering if I can cook with onions (for flavoring) in the recipe but not eat the onions themselves? Would this normally trigger a migraine? Thanks.

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  15. Hi Lora. I apologize for the delay in my response. If I remember correctly, Dr. Buchholz does say that you may find you can tolerate cooked onions better than raw ones, but he recommends avoiding all possible triggers until your headaches are under control. Instead of onions, try shallots, leeks, or spring onions for flavor. I hope that helps. Thanks for posting, and I'm so glad you are doing the 123 Program!

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  16. Hello there. I was wondering why toasted black sesame oil would be a problem?

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  17. Also was wondering if you worry about the silicone dioxide in things like garlic salt and paprika?- it says less than 2% of little canister (spice island brand). I believe that ingredient can turn into MSG...what brand of garlic salt/powder do you use? I have Celiac's so I'm pretty limited in what I can do but miss the easy flavoring. Thank you so much! I have so many dietary restrictions it is nice to have a life boat to help me with one as big as the 1-2-3 diet=)PS: I found a gardennburger that works on our diet! Sunshine- their garden herb and falafel=)

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  18. Hi Angela, toasted sesame oil is made from toasted sesame seeds and is used to stimulate brain activity in other countries. Doesn't sound like something we should be eating. Silicone dioxide is nothing to worry about, as it is an anti-caking agent. Without it, our spices would be a little gross, even if it is basically made from sand, I think. So, don't worry. Yes, I have heard a lot about Sunshine Burgers! I say go for it. Thanks for posting!

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  19. Hi Heidi
    Great website. Can you add a widget so we can search it? E.g. for certain foods like onions that might not get a specific heading. I'll use Google site search for now :-)

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  20. What a great site! I just googled migraines and tomatoes. I have NOT read the book yet, but I will now. I have suffered from food related migraines for 30 years now and have eliminated most things I know of, and still get about 2 migraines a week because of eating out. No onions, black pepper, many other things. I can eat raw tomatoes, but it seems that all tomato sauces trigger a headache, even if it says no onions. Why would that be if I can eat them raw?

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  21. Hello! So glad to have you join us. There could be several reasons for this. There could be something else in the sauce causing you problems. It could be that the raw tomatoes you are eating are more fresh, and therefore less likely to cause a headache. It could also be that canned tomatoes, as I've recently learned, go through a process that makes them mimic MSG, and can therefore trigger in those that are extremely sensitive to MSG. Today's tomatoes, however, are not what they used to be. They are likely shipped from far away places and therefore sprayed with a chemical to keep them "fresh" in the shipping process. It might be best to try organic tomatoes if you believe others might be a problem. A good rule of thumb is, the more fresh it is, the better. I hope that helps.

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  22. Whats good; anything? im going to starve!

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  23. I know it can seem difficult at times to find things to eat. The trick is to eat eat raw, healthy foods (vegetables taste much better with homemade ranch dressing than store-bought anyway, if you don't like them plain), and to cook your meals when you eat full meals. You don't HAVE to cook every meal. For those of you living in a limited setting, I have a post for you too titled "Living in a College Dormitory or other limited Setting?" If you don't mind cooking, then not all of my recipes take a long time. Many of them take less than 30 minutes. Plus, once you feel healthy again, you may have some of your favorite foods again every once in awhile because you will be in control of your headaches, not the other way around. Dr. Buchholz says that in his book, and it is definitely true! I hope that helps.

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  24. Where is the living in a college dormitory post? I am looking for quick easy meals. Thank you,

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  25. Hi Sherri. I have now added it to the post titles so you can find it. You may want to also look at the post "No Time to Cook" on the home page.

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  26. I had a hard time finding something to eat in the beginning. I've realized the diet takes planning. I always keep a jar of sunflower seed butter, plain crackers and low fat cottage cheese at work, for days I didn't plan or bring a snack for the afternoon. The diet takes a lot of cooking, I find, to be satisfying! But I've mastered some fast, healthy dinners. And I've started buying Quinoa flakes for breakfast--90 seconds on the stove. I have it with a boiled egg (cooked the night before) and glass of soy milk, which isn't a trigger for me.

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  27. Thank you for posting this. It's so nice to hear from you. You are an encouragement to others.

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  28. Hi Heidi, My wife has migraines and now is on a gluten free diet . I am trying to prepare meals for her and it has become tricky a lot of gluten free stuff has migraine triggers. I am trying to use the right cooking oil or something similar any suggestions . I saw in this post rice vinegar maybe bad as well as sesame oil .

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    1. Hello.
      Yes, a lot of marketed gluten-free foods have migraine triggers in them. Many naturally gluten-free foods do not. Olive oil is a safe bet when cooking (not flavored olive oil, and be sure it has no added trigger ingredients) if she is looking for something healthy. Correct, rice vinegar is not recommended. Pure sesame oil may be okay, but many sesame oils are smoked, or are prepared in ways that may trigger headaches. Do a quick google search of sesame oils and you would be surprised at how differently they are made depending on where they originate from and how they are processed. I'm curious as to why the gluten-free diet? Is it to avoid headaches? If so, you both may find that avoiding trigger foods, and doing it the right way, is more productive. As you mention, many marketed gluten-free foods contain migraine triggers, and trying to follow both diets may be unnecessary unless she has an allergy to gluten. I hope that helps.

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