Does Dairy Cause Headaches?

Does dairy cause headaches? The scientific literature has clearly deduced that many dairy products can cause migraines or headaches. Many of these studies concluded that those who seem to have the most headaches post-consuming milk or dairy products have tyramine and histamine sensitivity. These two components of food are naturally found in large amounts in many milk products. The exact mechanism by which they trigger these headaches is uncertain, but seems to be related to the blood vessels in the brain.

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Does dairy cause headaches?

Much of the literature that links dairy product and migraines is substantiated by self-reporting rather than an actual conducted study. It seems that about 30% of people with migraines report a food-based cause. Dairy products are one of the most reported items. Going further than that it seems that the more processed the dairy, the more it is reported to cause issues. A study of 25,000 people demonstrated that they were more prone to not eat milk-based products than those who were asymptomatic. For some people it seems to be a very specific milk product. Identifying exactly which product that was reduce the amount of headaches that people had.

can dairy and milk products cause headaches and migraines

Tyamine as a cause

Tyramine is categorized as a biogenic amine and is a by product of the common amino acid tyrosine. Protein is comprised of amino acids assembled into a form. Milk products like cheese tend to contain large amounts of tyramine. It is believed that this particular amino acid can communicate with your brain and cause it to constrict blood vessels. This can cause headaches. Some individuals lack enzymes to efficiently process tyramine, resulting in more floating through their veins after consuming dairy products. More tyramine in the blood at any given time could heighten the aforementioned effects.

Histamine as a cause

Histamine is amino acids similar to tyramine, but it’s derived from histidine rather than tyrosine. Just like tyramine it’s found in high concentrations in milk products. Studies have shown some individuals have higher circulating levels of histamine due to an inherited genetic trait. Is people may also have a stomach issue or are consuming medicinal products that prevent the breakdown of histamine. Other symptoms of those who cannot tolerate histamine are asthma, low blood pressure, itching, and flushing. This amino acid has the opposite effect of tyramine and causes the blood vessels to expand wider rather than narrower. Scientists are unsure if this is the cause of migraine. But if you are symptomatic for histamine intolerance you should probably avoid foods that contain many histamines.

Stomach disorders

Individuals with a history of stomach issues like irritable bowel syndrome do not seem to have heightened chance of having food intolerance. Foods that are high in the aforementioned amino acids did seem to aggravate IBS, but the symptoms did not include migraine or headache.

Allergy or intolerance

You must understand the difference between food intolerance and allergy for a correct diagnosis. The basic difference is that a food allergy as an immune response component. An intolerance does not. Food allergy is much more serious and can potentially be life-threatening.