Thursday, May 13, 2010

Food Intolerance and Migraine Triggers

I have made some changes to this post since the original. I would like to thank my friends in the scientific community for your help with this subject.

Migraine triggers are not food allergies; they are more like intolerances. The terms food allergy and food intolerance seem to be grouped together casually as though they are the same, when in fact, they are quite different. In true medical, scientific literature, food allergies are labeled so because the body can generate, in some people, an immune response to certain foods. In the case of migraine triggers, there is no immune response within your body. In other words, migraine triggers are not mediated by the immune system. It is for this reason that triggers cannot be found through pin prick tests, blood tests, or any other similar type of tests. So, how do triggers work? The more you have in your system, the more likely you are to have a headache. So, by avoiding dietary triggers, more unavoidable triggers are less likely to cause a headache, too. I do not want to give away all of Dr. Buchholz's step 2 relayed in his book, so it is important that you read it. However, I will tell you that the more triggers you avoid, the better you feel. In the beginning, it is important to avoid all dietary triggers to let your body heal. After that, the trick is to keep your trigger level as low as possible, and since your body does not generate an immune response to triggers, you may eat your favorite foods once in awhile again. The trick is to only eat them when there are few to no other triggers clouding your system. It is for these same reasons that food triggers do not have to cause a headache every time they are eaten, which can also make them difficult to pinpoint. Dr. Buchholz's method is the only one I've found that can truly eliminate and find all personal triggers for each headache sufferer. Everyone is different, after all, and his method is designed to find your personal triggers. If you haven't read Heal Your Headache: The 1-2-3 Program for Taking Charge of Your Pain by David Buchholz, M.D. yet, you are missing a real treat.

21 comments:

  1. I have celiac disease (gluten), potato sensitivity and lactose inolerance. Starting this diet has been tough but after 2 months straight of migraining-I'll try anything. I'm starting to branch out now and have had alot of difficulty finding brands of cream cheese and cottage cheese (they all have whey-isn't that a form of MSG?) and american cheese (can't purchase foods from an open deli counter due to gluten exposure) that are without MSG. What brands do you buy? I was also wondering about soy lecithin and white chocolate? I can't seem to find white chocolate in any form that doesn't have some form of soy lecithin (Isn't that MSG?)... what brands do you buy (Ghiradelli has gluten so I can't go near it)? Thank you for any direction!

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  2. Me again=) I've been taking lactaid and it dawned on me that this is an enzyme and therefore may contain MSG in it as well...

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  3. Hello! Thank you for posting. It seems you have some diet restrictions to follow! I will answer to the best of my ability, but it may be worthwhile for you to visit a nutritionist so you have some more choices in your repertoire. Remember, the goal is to lower your overall trigger threshold. Read labels and do the best you can. What I know is that we can eat many cottage cheeses and be just fine; just find the ones with the simplest ingredients. You are fairly safe with Great Value brand, for instance, which can be found anywhere there is a Wal-Mart. I think Boar's Head American cheese is great, but it has to be purchased from a deli counter. I'm not sure what to tell you on that issue. Maybe go to a Health food store to see if there is American cheese that says "minimally processed" or "deli style" and then check the ingredients carefully for MSG aliases. If it is true deli style, there will be no MSG aliases. All chocolate of any form is going to have lecithin in it. White chocolate is much safer for you than cocoa. I have been following this diet for a long time, and have had no problems with the very small amounts of Lecithin in white chocolate (probably about 1% in the whole package). The white chocolate baking bars are even better. If you're worried about Lactaid, you can try rice milk which should be safe, I think. I hope that helps. Please let me know if you have any other questions, and I will do my best to answer. Just trust in what Dr. Buchholz says is safe to eat. I wish you the best.

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  4. Thank you! Thank you! I really appreciate your help! I've also been searching for a dairy/gluten/MSG free "butter". I used to use smart balance but there is whey, soy lecithin, etc...do you use any type of non dairy "butter" type product? I researched earth balance, they have a non soy non dairy one that uses sunflower lecithin and pea protein...I'm thinking that these are less likely to be MSG related? What do you think?

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  5. I was once diagnosed with lactose intolerance, and then realized what I really had was migraine trigger intolerance. A little while after following Dr. Buchholz's methods, my symptoms disappeared. So, I've never had to eat dairy-free while on the diet. I imagine it would be difficult. What I can tell you is that sunflower lecithin is manufactured in a similar way to soy lecithin, so it would be the same. I always use real butter because margarines tend to have too many additives. I don't know how pea protein is manufactured, or what it means in food, but I would guess it comes from the whole pea, including the pod, which means it would contain more tyramine. Sometimes I wish I was a little further along in school so I could give you a more complete answer. Natural and fresh is always best. I think I misunderstood your previous post, too. I think I understood that you were going to venture out, meaning you were going to start adding dairy back in. Is that not correct? If so, maybe it is best to start with butter in your food (small amounts added back in the diet at a time), then eat small amounts of cream cheese or cottage cheese after your body seems to tolerate butter well. As always, avoid dairy with high tyramine, such as buttermilk, aged cheese, sour cream. I hope that helps, too. -Heidi

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  6. Thanks Again=) I had been using lactaid but am waiting for a response from them as to whether their enzyme could be a possible MSG trigger. I've read that enzyme added things tend to have MSG...We'll see what they say.

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  7. Well, I just went yesterday to purchase the cottage cheese I always buy, and it seems to have several MSG ingredients in it. I don't know if these have just been added, or I didn't read carefully enough before, or what, but now I will have to search for a new brand again. I apologize for the inconvenience. Does anyone have any cottage cheese brands they recommend?

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  8. I also drink Lactaid never really thought about there being MSG in it. Is there other sources? I used to drink Almond milk but gave it up since it the 1-2-3 diet says I can't eat anything with made with nuts.

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  9. I am not sure about Lactaid, but enzyme-modified items can be a potential source of MSG. See Dr. Buchholz's list of MSG aliases on page 81, or visit truthinlabeling.org. Maybe try Rice Dream rice milk? Hope that helps. :)

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  10. Trying to cook more at home by looking at recipes in your cookbook & online. Can I cook with marsala wine or any other type of wine or is that off limits too? I know alcohol is suppose to be off limits. Is there a difference in how there manufactured?

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  11. First of all, let me say thank you for purchasing my cookbook. I hope you find it helpful. Remember that it's not just the sulfites in wine, but also the fermentation/aging. Clear, distilled alcohol is best. Maybe try chicken broth along with a drop or two of distilled white vinegar or possibly a drop or two of vodka to give a flavor similar to wine? I hope that helps.

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  12. Heidi do you know anything about Meniere's disease? Can MSG trigger this?

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  13. I'm sorry, but I don't know enough about Meniere's to answer any questions about it. What I can tell you is that Dr. Buchholz discusses Meniere's disease in his book. I hope that helps.

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  14. I just found your website and am very thankful to know that there are others who understand what I am going through. About 8 years ago I realized that caffiene was causing my daily headaches, after giving it up I was fine. About 3 years ago I started have constant headaches again and after doing some research on hypoglycemia, which I've had since high school, decided to cut the carbs and sugar in my diet. My headaches went away within a month. I was fine again until last fall when the headaches came back again. Kind of through a process of elimination determined it to be gluten, but once I got rid of the dairy, soy and nuts as well, the headaches completely went away. Any time I have any small amount of anything it either triggers a headache later in the day or the next morning. So now I am low carb, sugar, gluten, dairy, soy and nut free. So you can imagine that it makes it very difficult to eat. I've been doing for about 3 months. Mostly it's meat, vegetable, and seeds. And vitamins. I've been drinking hemp milk which seems to not effect me. I was curious about butter though. Every other dairy product affects me, but I didn't realize it was because of the tyramine they contain. From what I've been reading butter doesn't contain as much??? Would it be safe to eat? I've been using the Smart Balance soy and dairy free butter that was mentioned in the previous post. Any advice you could give me would be greatly appreciated!

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  15. Nancy's organic cottage cheese doesn't have all the additives - it's sold at Earth Fare. To me it has an "aged" flavor that I don't particularly care for though.

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  16. Hello, butter should be almost tyramine free. Anything aged is going to contain some tyramine, but butter is not a big worry. Stay away from foods that have been purposely aged, like sour cream and buttermilk, and also avoid over-ripe vegetables and fruits. I hope that helps, and I'm sorry for the delay in my response.

    Yes, Nancy's organic is safe. Thank you for the information! Some other organic brands are great too, but I don't particularly care for the flavor either, if I'm being honest. However, think about how cottage cheese is made and that may give some clue as to why it has a particular flavor if "flavoring" isn't added to it. I know, it's not a pretty picture.

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  17. What about sun dried tomatoes (sulfur dioxide) or dried mushrooms ("no" added ingredients)? I have been reading that there are people who are sensitive to both those as "raw" ingredients, but I just started this yesterday (yay?) and am looking thru my pantry and questioning everything... Your advice would be greatly appreciated.

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  18. Hello,

    Thanks for posting. Yes, some people are sensitive to both tomatoes and mushrooms due to very high amounts of free glutamate. Peas pose the same problem. Pea pods have high amounts of tyramine. I would keep both tomatoes and mushrooms in your diet unless you feel they might be a trigger for you, and then after trying the diet for a month, if you aren't seeing a difference at all, you might try eliminating them for a week to see if it helps. If not, add them back in. I wouldn't eat sun-dried tomatoes though. Many times they have trigger ingredients. Dried mushrooms, without other ingredients added, just pure mushrooms, are probably okay. I hope that helps.

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  19. I'm starting on the 1-2-3 diet. I love salad but I haven't found anything to put on it but olive oil and salt and pepper because it seems all the dressings out there have onions in them. Can you reommend a migraine safe salad dressing?

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    1. Hi Lara. Did you find a dressing? I've been using Drew's classic Italian however it has red wine vinegar in it. I haven't found it to be a trigger for me. I just don't like the idea of ingesting anything that could even remotely cause a migraine. If you found something, please reply and let me know. Thanks.

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  20. I would love some advice as to how to manage my diet with food allergies and sensitivities. I am allergic to eggs, nuts, raw fruits and veggies. I am lactose intolerant. Vinegar, onion and cheese seem to be my biggest triggers. I am starving and have lost 40 lbs with diet eliminations. I am currently 5'8" and 105 lbs. I'm not sure where to look for help. Can anyone recommend a nutritionalist or dietician who can help me get healthy again? I've tried a lot of cookbooks and they still contain too many triggers for me.

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