Tyramine is a biogenic amine, meaning it is a byproduct of amino acids that forms during fermentation. People taking certain medications need to avoid eating foods containing tyramine, as they may cause a range of adverse effects.
Additionally, some research suggests that tyramine may play a role in the development of migraine attacks.
Tyramine may be present in foods such as certain cheeses, cured meats, and chocolate. The substance may cause physiological effects in the body and lead to negative symptoms.
This article explains what tyramine is in more detail. It also discusses who should limit tyramine in their diet, tyramine-free and low tyramine foods to try, foods to limit, and when to consult a healthcare professional.
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Tyramine is a compound
Trace monoamines, such as tyramine, have less presence in body tissues than their similar counterparts — which include dopamine, serotonin, epinephrine, and norepinephrine — that act as neurotransmitters. However, it is important to note that while tyramine can act similarly to neurotransmitters, it is not a neurotransmitter.
Tyramine mimics the effects of certain components in the sympathetic nervous system, which exerts the fight, flight, or freeze response and is part of the autonomic nervous system. The autonomic nervous system is a complex network of cells that controls the body’s internal state.
The compound indirectly releases catecholamines, which are chemicals the brain releases in response to stress. They affect the heart if people consume them in very large amounts, potentially leading to hypertensive crisis. Scientists believe it may also affect the immune system.
MAOIs are a type of drug that doctors
People should need to avoid eating foods containing tyramine and tyrosine while taking MAOIs because they may cause the following adverse effects:
Foods that contain tyramine may also trigger migraine attacks. Although scientists do not completely understand why this occurs, tyramine’s effects on the sympathetic nervous system may be responsible.
According to the National Headache Foundation, the following foods are fine to eat on a low tyramine diet for headaches and migraine:
- whole or skim milk
- freshly prepared meat, poultry, and fish
- certain cheeses, including:
- cream cheese
- low fat processed cheese
- cottage cheese
- products leavened with baking powder, such as cakes and biscuits
- commercially prepared yeast
- most vegetables, including:
- cooked onions
- navy beans
- fruit juices
- decaffeinated coffee
- club soda
- caffeine-free carbonated drinks
- some fruits, such as:
- white vinegar
- all cooking oils
- commercial salad dressings
Foods to eat with caution
Additionally, the National Headache Foundation advises that people may consume the following foods cautiously, as these have smaller amounts of tyramine:
- hot dogs, bacon, sausages, ham, and luncheon meat with added nitrates
- half a cup a day of citrus fruit or pineapple
- chocolate-based puddings and products
- wine vinegar and other fermented vinegars
- avocados, bananas, passion fruit, papaya, figs, raisins, dried fruit, and red plums
- half a cup per day of yogurt, buttermilk, and sour cream
- 2 teaspoons of Parmesan or Romano cheese
- homemade yeast-leavened bread and cakes
- sourdough bread
- raw onion
- canned soups with autolyzed or hydrolyzed yeast, monosodium glutamate, or meat extracts
However, if a person is taking MAOIs, they can speak with their doctor about eating limited amounts of these foods.
- beer and wine
- aged cheeses such as cheddar, mozzarella, and Stilton
- fermented vegetables such as sauerkraut and kimchi
- soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce
- cured or salt-dried meats
- pickled or dried fish or shrimp
- certain fresh produce, which may include avocado, beetroot, and grapes
If someone suspects they experience adverse reactions to tyramine foods, they can speak with a doctor who can advise whether following a low tyramine diet may be appropriate and how to do so safely.
People taking MAOIs
However, individuals should not make significant changes to their diet without first consulting a doctor.
Many foods contain tyramine, including fermented, aged, or cured products and certain fresh produce.
Tyramine can cause adverse effects, especially in people taking MAOIs. It affects the sympathetic nervous system, which may cause cardiovascular symptoms and headaches.
People can speak with a doctor about whether following a low tyramine diet may benefit them. A doctor can advise which foods to include and which to limit.