The inner ear, or vestibular system, helps control balance and a person’s sense of positioning in space, or proprioception. A vestibular migraine affects balance and proprioception, causing a person to feel dizzy, off-balance, or uncertain of their movements.
There is a significant overlap between vertigo, which is a feeling of dizziness, and migraine. The Vestibular Disorders Association estimates that about 4 in 10 people with migraine develop vestibular symptoms such as dizziness.
No single specific diet can prevent vestibular migraine. However,
This article explains which foods can help with vestibular migraine and which foods to avoid.
Some conditions, such as diabetes, respond directly to diet. High-sugar foods cause blood sugar to go up, and avoiding them can help control blood glucose.
The link between diet and vestibular migraine is more complicated. Food on its own does not cause migraine, and most people can eat migraine-triggering foods without experiencing a migraine. But people with migraine
A number of studies suggest that tyramine can trigger migraine. Researchers do not fully understand this phenomenon, but it may be because of the effect tyramine has on the nervous system. It can cause blood vessels to constrict and change the way the body releases chemicals such as adrenaline.
What is vestibular migraine?
A vestibular migraine
People experiencing a vestibular migraine may experience vertigo or dizziness. They may also have trouble with balance or feel uncertain on their feet.
People who want to try a diet for vestibular migraine must first identify foods that trigger their migraine. One way to do this is via an elimination diet.
An elimination diet begins by eliminating foods a person thinks may be causing their symptoms. If symptoms improve, this suggests that one or more of the eliminated foods is likely causing the migraine.
A person then tests which food is the culprit by slowly reintroducing each food and waiting days to weeks before adding another food. If symptoms reappear, this suggests the food the person reintroduced is a trigger.
It can be helpful to work with a dietitian or doctor to determine the right timeline and ensure a person gets adequate nutrition. Pregnant and breastfeeding or chestfeeding people, individuals with a history of eating disorders, and people with special nutritional needs, such as those who have diabetes, should not try an elimination diet before talking with a doctor.
The National Headache Foundation suggests that these foods may be safe for people trying a low-tyramine diet:
- freshly purchased and prepared meat and poultry
- American, cottage, farmer, cream, and low-fat processed cheese, as well as other non-aged cheeses
- cooked and dry cereals
- commercially prepared yeasts
- fruits such as cherries, apples, and peaches
- vegetables such as string beans, beets, carrots, asparagus, spinach, pumpkin, tomatoes, squash, zucchini, broccoli, potatoes, cooked onions in food, navy beans, and soybeans
- cakes, cookies, jellies, and jams that do not contain prohibited ingredients
- commercial salad dressing, white vinegar, and some cooking oils
A person should not eat any foods that they believe may be triggering, even if they are on this list.
The National Headache Foundation recommends avoiding the following:
- dried, aged, fermented, or salted foods
- mincemeat pie
- aged cheeses such as blue cheese and brie
- pickles, olives, and sauerkraut
- snow peas
- fava and broad beans
- monosodium glutamate (MSG) in large quantities
- alcoholic beverages
- all nuts
The following foods are usually safe to eat in small quantities, but a person should try to limit them:
- foods with autolyzed or hydrolyzed yeast
- caffeinated beverages (no more than two servings per day)
- dried fruit, papaya, avocado, raisins, and figs
- Parmesan and Romano cheeses
- sourdough bread
- home-leavened bread
- raw onions
- citrus fruits such as oranges and pineapples
The main benefit of using a migraine diet to reduce or manage migraine is that a person may have fewer migraines. In some cases, the diet may also reduce the need to use migraine medication and enable a person to live a fuller life with fewer migraine-related interruptions.
If dietary changes do not reduce a person’s migraine frequency, there is no benefit to continuing these changes unless the person has another medical condition necessitating such changes.
The main risk of dietary changes is that a person may miss out on important nutrients. For people who already have restricted diets because of diabetes, vegetarianism or veganism, or other nutritional needs, it may be especially difficult to get all of the nutrients they require.
Restrictive diets can sometimes lead to an eating disorder or be a symptom of one. People with a history of disordered eating may have a higher risk of relapsing on a migraine diet or any other restrictive diet.
No specific diet can guarantee a reduction in migraine, and diets will not cure the underlying neurological issues that cause migraine. However, it is important to identify migraine triggers, including triggers in a person’s diet. In so doing, a person may gain more control over their migraine.
People who need support to manage migraine should consult a doctor or ask for a referral to a neurologist.