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Can Eating Dairy Cause Headaches?

Last updated on January 6th, 2023 at 12:09 pm

Can eating dairy cause headaches? You might be surprised to learn that dairy is in fact one of the main triggers of migraines…

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Most people that suffer with migraine don’t always know what triggers them. The International Classification of Headache Disorders, states that there are around 150 different kinds of headaches.

 Generally, they can be categorized under cluster, stress, hypertension and migraine headaches. A headache can be commonly brought on by sleep disruption, high stress levels, weather fluctuation and diet.

Some foods are known to reduce headaches and some food can easily trigger a headache. Being aware of the best drinks and food to consume can help ease the headache or reduce its frequency drastically.

Casein headache

Globally dairy consumption is astronomically high. It is evaluated that 94% of people around the world consume some form of dairy products on a regular interval.

 Dairy is mostly promoted as highly beneficial, causing 36% of the population to drink at least one glass of milk each day. However more recent studies are researching the negative effects of having dairy products regularly.

Can eating dairy cause headaches?

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Casein which makes about 79% of protein in milk is a prime trigger for different headaches and migraine. Casein is a group of phosphoprotein that is present in cow’s milk.

Keeping recent studies in mind many contemporary medical professionals recommend a diet exempt of any casein sources. A casein free diet basically means a dairy free diet, both of which is a form of elimination diet.

In such a diet the person suffering from frequent headaches are supposed to stay completely away from all dairy products and all edible that includes dairy. 

What are the symptoms of casein intolerance?

Whey and Casein are the two major types of protein found in cow’s milk. Majority of the protein in milk is found in the form of casein. It increases even further with more concentrated dairy products like cheese.

Casein intolerance is more prevalent among children specially ones below five years of age. Sometimes people confuse lactose intolerance with casein intolerance, but they are not the same.

Casein intolerance occurs when the body’s natural immune system identifies casein as harmful for the body.

As a reaction to that the body produces allergic antibodies to combat the protein. Soon the collision between casein and these specific antibodies causes the release of chemicals in the body.

One such chemical is histamine that seeds the following symptoms of casein intolerance:

  • Itchy skin, hives, a rash and other skin reactions
  • Swelling of throat, mouth, lips, tongue or face
  • Runny nose, coughing, itchy eyes, sneezing, nasal congestion and wheezing.

Some unlucky people are allergic to both whey and casein found in milk. If you notice hives, swollen lips or other allergic symptoms after eating a slice of pizza then you might have casein intolerance.

Can yogurt cause headaches?

Around 20% of people suffering from regular headaches are found to be food sensitive. And among them a smaller portion of people can be determined as casein allergic.

For the people that are casein sensitive, consumption of yogurt can also be a potential trigger for headaches. Sometimes it is not specifically casein that causes the problem, it can be any other group of protein found in yogurt.

One popular suggestion for finding out your personal headache triggers is to track your daily food and drinks consumption.

If you discover that yogurt is causing headaches then you should also be careful with sour cream, buttermilk and other cultured dairy products.

How do you stop tyramine headaches?

Tyramine is a compound that is naturally found in animals and plants. Our body depends on an enzyme named monoamine oxidase to process tyramine from the food we consume.

Some people don’t have the needed level of monoamine oxidase to break down tyramine in the body. This casues excess amount of Tyramine to be present in the body which is extremely harmful.

High levels of tyramine in the body triggers many health problems, the most common among them is migraine attacks.

The doctors suggest the people suffering from tyramine headaches should be on a strict low tyramine diet to decrease the intensity and frequency of migraines

Best milk for migraine sufferers

Milk is a great source of calcium and potassium and helps with the body’s immune system. However, if you are casein intolerant and generic dairy products trigger migraine then you should switch to almond milk.

Almond milk contains higher levels of magnesium, which is a needed and essential mineral for people. A study found that magnesium can help treat migraine attacks and prevent them as well.

Almond milk is a great and arguably better substitute for cow’s milk. Almond milk added to any fresh fruit smoothie or dessert only enhances the taste.

Milk headache cure

Migraine headaches have no known cure, so making lifestyle and diet changes is essential to finding comfort and relief. The symptoms may vary for individual migraine sufferers, but frequently it is serious enough to affect day to day activities.

Certain ingredients, foods and drinks can be migraine triggers. That is why before looking for any particular cure, make sure that it does not worsen the symptoms.

Following are some of the best drinks for headache and migraine attacks:

  • Green tea
  • Decaffeinated coffee
  • Feverfew tea
  • Green smoothies
  • Water
  • Grape juice

Foods that cause headaches

Certain food intolerance in the body might be potential triggers for head pain. Different food sensitivities have different results in each person. There are some classic foods that have been identified as common migraine triggers.

To identify which of the common triggers should be eliminated from your personal diet take a look at the list below:

  • Chocolate: It has been reported by the National Headache Foundation that eating chocolate when someone is hungry to fulfil their cravings is associated with migraine trigger.
  • Alcoholic beverages and red wine: They are included in the list of common dietary triggers. Alcoholic drinks increase blood flow to the brain and dehydrates the body, which can potentially trigger migraine according to American Migraine Foundation.
  • Caffeinated beverages: It is both a potential headache trigger and migraine reliever. Sometimes sudden caffeine withdrawal can cause head pain, and sometimes too much caffeine in your system can trigger it. The good news is moderate quantity of caffeine can help reduce migraine attacks.
Can eating dairy cause headaches?

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  • Ice cream: The cold in the ice cream and not the food itself can start headache within one minute of consuming it for some migraine sufferers.
  • Deli meats or processed meats: Nitrites is commonly used as a preservative in bacon, hot dogs and other processed meat. It causes hormonal changes in the body after consumption. Such specific foods, dilate blood vessels and are classic migraine triggers.

There are many other food items and ingredients that can cause a migraine attack. It is recommended to journal daily food consumption to figure out specific food intolerance.

What should I eat for headache?

Should you have a migraine attack there are certain foods that can help reduce it. Read on to know more about what to eat when you have a bad headache:

  • Leafy greens: A combination of B12 and B6 present in fresh foods and greens reduce migraine headaches. Vitamin B2 that is found in leafy greens like broccoli, turnip greens, spinach, kale and collard greens reduce the frequency of head pains.
  • Fatty Fish: Fish like Salmon, Halibut, Mackerel, and Cod are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Its anti-inflammatory characteristic help manage migraine attacks.
  • Seeds: Poppy, chia, sunflower, pumpkin, and sesame seeds are all known to contain magnesium and omega-3 fatty acids which help to deal with bad headaches.
  • Ginger: The chemical compounds and natural oil present in ginger helps combat migraine pain.

Certain legumes, hot peppers, whole grains and a variety of tea are also known to help overcome migraine episodes.

FAQ relating to whether dairy can cause headaches

Can dairy intolerance cause headaches?

It is estimated around 70% of the people are lactose intolerant. Lactose is a form of sugar present in milk that cannot be easily digested my most people.

Headache and fatigue have been reported as symptoms of dairy intolerance. Other common symptoms include diarrhoea, vomiting, gas, stomach pain, and constipation.

Can eating dairy cause headaches?

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Can eating dairy cause migraines?

For people who are lactose intolerant or have casein allergy, eating dairy products can trigger migraine attacks for them. Many people are unable to digest dairy products or dairy infused drinks, if their body suffers from lactase deficiency.

 In some rare cases people who are not lactose intolerant have reported frequent headaches after consuming dairy products.

What foods cause daily headaches?

Not all headaches are caused by food triggers, but if you are certain yours are, then try to avoid the following foods:

  • Chocolate and other caffeine products
  • Any form of cultured dairy products
  • Fruits such as bananas, red plums, raspberries, papayas, dates, avocado, figs, passion fruits, citrus fruits and dried fruits.
  • Soy sauce, tempeh, miso and other soy products
  • Vegetables like peas, corn, sauerkraut, and onions
  • Nuts and vinegar
  • Aged cheese like Mozzarella, Feta, Cheddar, Swiss, Muenster, Brie, and blue cheese.
  • Food additives like aspartame, nitrates, other artificial sweeteners and monosodium glutamate.

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