Headaches from Food: The Connection (cont.)

MEMBER QUESTION:
I have a 15-year-old daughter who has been suffering with migraines for two years now. They put her down for a week at a time. None of the medications seem to help as she wakes up with many of the headaches. Can blood tests detect if there is any allergy to food and if so, how accurate are they?

MAGEE:
Not to my knowledge is there a test you can take to understand if your migraines are being triggered by your diet. That's why the migraine diet diary becomes so helpful. We have one in the book you can use, just make copies for each day. There is a high degree of genetic influence, too, on migraine sufferers, so note that her children will also have a higher tendency toward it. My best advice is to get as much information as possible for her and work closely with a headache clinic or headache expert in your area, someone who can help her find the right medication and dose as she finishes growing.

MEMBER QUESTION:
Why, when I eat some sugar -- like candy, jam etc. -- does it give me a headache?

MAGEE:
I vaguely remember seeing jam on one of the food lists, but sugar doesn't really specifically come into play with headaches and migraines, only in that you don't want to cause spikes in blood sugar and then quick drops, which is why you want to avoid the caffeine and junk- food quick fixes. Your body may crave sugar when you're stressed because it wants the quick calming effect of carbohydrates, but try to give it carbohydrates that will be long lasting, like whole grains, al dente pasta, beans, rather than the sugar fix.

MEMBER QUESTION:
I often find that with Chinese food as well as other foods containing soy sauce or other "natural flavors," that I'm fine when I first eat the food, but if I put it in the refrigerator overnight, the next day, it will cause a migraine? Is it fermentation?

MAGEE:
It's possible that you're reacting to the chicken having higher levels of tyramine. The soy sauce itself and the MSG itself does not increase over time, to my knowledge, but it's also possible you have a one-day reaction time to the MSG that you consumed the day before. Generally people react within one to two hours to MSG, but it's possible you have a reaction time that's longer. It's also possible you're reacting to higher levels of the tyramine in the meat in the Chinese food or you're reacting to the soy sauce in the Chinese food and that's giving you a 24-hour reaction time.

MODERATOR:
We are almost out of time. Before we wrap things up for today, do you have any final words for us?

MAGEE:
Thanks for spending some time learning more about eating and headaches and migraines. It's become one of my favorite books that I've done. This book follows the same popular format of the other Tell Me What to Eat books, including a chapter with recipes. Check the book out from my web site, recipedoctor.com, or amazon.com. And it is available in Chinese and Spanish.

Just one more side note: If it looks like eating less fat is helpful to your headaches, check out my recent cookbook Fry Light, Fry Right! which is all about making over our favorite foods.

MODERATOR:
We are out of time. Our thanks to Elaine Magee for joining us today. For more information, please read Tell Me What to Eat If I Have Headaches and Migraines.


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