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Migraine trigger food

By Serge Kreutz (2011)

Many people suffering from migraines attribute their frequent attacks to trigger foods.

But in placebo-controlled studies with many alleged triggers, the results were inconclusive. It wasn't that specific foods could be clearly associated with migraine.

Sure, some patients who are gluten-sensitive also respond with headaches to the ingestion of gluten-containing food.

But for most migraine patients, just avoiding gluten grains is no prevention.

Nevertheless, I have known for some time that my migraines are food-dependent.

If I indulge in cheese, I sure get migraines. I love cheese for its taste, especially hearty ones like Stilton, Gorgonzola, Camembert, Limburger. Indulging in cheese can mean up to half a kilo a day. I sure have headache the next day. Every next day as long as I go on eating cheese.

Gluten, by the way, is a protein.

Proteins are composed of amino acids. Cheese is rich in altered amino acids, one of them tyramine.

Tyramine is a slight modification of the amino acid tyrosine.

Tyramine is a so-called monoamine. Monoamines also function as neurotransmitters.

Dopamine is also a monoamine.

In a healthy human body, as monoamines are constantly supplied in the diet, and are, to a lesser extent, synthesized as neurotransmitters, there must be a pathway to discard them, too.

This is handled by an enzyme, monoamine oxidase.

Now, in certain diseases like Parkinson's, there is a shortage of the monoamine neurotransmitter dopamine. Thus, a standard therapy is to give drugs that prevent the breakdown of this neurotransmitter. Such drugs are named MAOi, short for monoamine oxidase inhibitor.

The problem with these drugs is that they inhibit the breakdown of monoamines not just in the nervous system but also in the gut.

If patients undergoing MAOi therapy ingest monoamine-rich food such as tyramine-loaded cheese, those monoamines in the gut, the breakdown of which is inhibited, spill over into the nervous system where they cause dangerous excitation.

If not tyramine, tyramine-rich cheese nevertheless is a dietary trigger in many migraineurs. Other amines may be involved in migraine, though tyramine remains as the prime suspect.

Can you see the wider picture?

Migraines are protein-related, or amino-acid related, which is pretty much the same thing.

Migraines, and lesser headaches, often are a condition of protein overload.

Now try the Serge Kreutz diet. The Serge Kreutz diet advises you to watch your protein intake.

Please note: I am not telling anybody to eat a no-protein diet. Everybody (and in this case, it could be spelled: every body) needs protein (as an amino acid source) in his or her diet for cell repair and the synthesis of digestive enzymes, and a plethora of other physiological processes. I would be a dangerous fool if I were to propagate a no-protein diet. Anyway, such a diet would be hard to follow as most food contains protein in various degrees.

But how much dietary protein? Conventional medical science says 70 gram a day is the minimum. Fruitarians say 30 gram. I estimate that 50 gram would be a good average for an adult. But most adults in rich Western countries, especially those adhering to Atkins quackery, eat several hundred grams a day.

Surplus protein is just converted into fuel (sugar or fat), and for that, it will have to be deaminated (the nitrogen has to be removed from those molecules). Deamination is a heavy load on the digestive system, accompanied with toxic by-products.

The Serge Kreutz spit it, don't shit it diet makes it very easy to control your protein intake.

You can still enjoy the taste of many protein-heavy, migraine-triggering foods like cheese and cured meat. But after enzymatic degration in the mouth, just don't swallow.

Anyway, there is no culinaric advantage of swallowed protein over swallowed protein-poor food like fruit or oil-fried rice.

But you don't burden your kidneys with the products of deamination, and you do not burden your blood vessels and head with unoxidized migraine-triggering amines, whether tyramine or others.