Dietary aspects of migraine trigger factors

Nutr Rev. 2012 Jun;70(6):337-56. doi: 10.1111/j.1753-4887.2012.00468.x.


The significance of dietary factors as triggers for migraines is controversial, and the assessment of this topic is complex and inconclusive. In order to evaluate the published evidence on dietary triggers, a critical review of the literature was performed by conducting a search for food item descriptors linked to migraines in the PubMed and SciELO databases. Reviews and relevant references cited within the articles that resulted from the search were also included. Of the 45 studies reviewed, 16 were population studies that involved the association between migraines and eating habits or the prevalence of related dietary factors; 12 involved interventions or analyzed observational prospective cohorts; and 17 were retrospective studies. Approximately 30 dietary triggers were explored in total, although only seven of these were addressed experimentally. In the prospective studies, patients were instructed to keep a diary; two of these studies involved dietary interventions. Conclusions that are based on nonpharmacological prophylactic strategies with a scientific basis and that show an association between certain dietary factors and the triggering of migraines are limited by the lack of prospective studies with clear experimental designs. Nevertheless, the high frequency of possible specific dietary triggers validates efforts to elucidate the involvement of food-related factors in precipitating migraines.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Diet / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Migraine Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Risk Factors