A hemiplegic migraine diet is a diet that avoids potential trigger foods, such as caffeine, alcohol, and processed meats. Some foods and supplements could also help decrease the likelihood of an attack.
There’s no specific diet that can help prevent hemiplegic migraine. But there are some foods you may want to avoid and some that might help. Many people with migraine conditions, including hemiplegic migraine, find that certain triggers tend to bring on attacks. Food is only one of many potential migraine triggers.
While many people with migraine have identified certain foods as triggers, there’s not much clinical research backing up these claims.
Research on the effects of diet on people with migraine
Migraine trigger foods (and drinks) are different for everyone, but some are more common than others. There hasn’t been any research on diets specific to hemiplegic migraine conditions. But if you have hemiplegic migraine, your episodes may be triggered by the same common causes behind other types of migraine attacks.
You probably won’t experience a migraine attack every time you’re exposed to a trigger food, but you may notice a pattern over time. If you’re trying to identify your migraine triggers, it helps to keep a migraine diary. The next time you experience an attack, take note of anything you did in the hours before the attack, including the foods you ate.
Some of the more common migraine trigger foods include:
Caffeine is one of the most frequently studied trigger foods because of its unusual nature. A daily dose of caffeine might help prevent migraine episodes in some people. But when someone misses their daily cup of coffee, the lack of caffeine may trigger a migraine.
Several migraine medications, such as Excedrin Migraine, actually contain caffeine. This is because it also seems to help treat attacks. It’s a tricky balancing act, so the best thing you can do is track your own response to caffeine (or lack of caffeine) and proceed from there.
Alcohol is another common migraine trigger. Beer and red wine may be especially bothersome because of certain chemical components, such as tannins.
You may experience migraine symptoms after eating chocolate. One reason it may trigger a migraine is that it contains caffeine.
Foods that contain nitrates
Nitrates are preservatives often found in processed meats such as bacon, hot dogs, pepperoni, sausage, salami, and cold cuts. Some people find that they trigger attacks.
Foods with monosodium glutamate (MSG)
Foods with monosodium glutamate include soy sauce, prepared soups, bouillon cubes, and preserved foods, to name a few. Chinese food is also a common source.
Foods with tyramine
You’ll find tyramine in aged cheeses, dried or smoked meats, pickled meats, and other fermented foods. Fermented and aged foods contain more tyramine than fresh foods. They can also be found in soy, beer, and wine.
Sugar alternatives such as aspartame may not be good for people with migraine. They contain chemicals that could trigger symptoms.
Certain foods may help you avoid hemiplegic migraine. Some have been shown to help with migraine prevention, while others help you maintain a healthy diet while avoiding migraine triggers.
Fresh fruits and vegetables
Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables can provide your body with well-rounded nutrition. Most fruits and vegetables are OK for people with migraine, including apples, peaches, broccoli, spinach, and lettuce, to name a few. Be cautious with citrus, bananas, onions, lima and fava beans, and lentils.
These are healthy fats found in fish, shellfish, walnuts, chia seeds, and flaxseeds. They may help lower inflammation.
Choose lean meats that are fresh and unprocessed. Examples include chicken, turkey, and fish.
Dairy from milk and nonaged cheeses are good choices.
The yeast in freshly baked bread (which is fermented) could be a trigger for some people. If this happens to you, better choices might include sliced bread, bagels, and crackers you find in the bread, snack, or frozen aisles.
Some vitamins and supplements may benefit people with migraine. Keep in mind that these aren’t regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and can contain triggering adulterants.
Consider talking with a doctor about using vitamins and supplements such as:
There’s some evidence to suggest a keto diet could help with migraine prevention.
This diet leads to an increase in ketone bodies.
Increased levels of ketone bodies can affect your brain chemistry in a number of different ways. For example, keto diets are an essential component of the treatment of pediatric epilepsy. But research into the connection between ketone bodies and migraine is still in its infancy.
There’s no specific diet for hemiplegic migraine. But cutting certain foods and eating a well-rounded diet may help prevent migraine attacks in some people. Be sure to discuss any significant dietary changes with a doctor before you try them.