Most Common Migraine Triggers [Statistics]

Migraine triggers are a massive problem.

With 20% of the worldwide population experiencing migraines that means over 1 billion people will get a migraine at some point.(Link)

If we can avoid triggering the migraine mechanism, we can avoid migraines altogether.

But it’s not that simple.

We aren’t able to avoid many of our triggers.

Luckily, we can learn to manage them and raise our threshold to trigger.

Let me break it down and make it simple to understand.

How do migraines work?

There are 3 aspects that go into triggering a migraine.

1. Trigger level

2. Threshold level

3. Foundational release

We have to understand and apply all three while we figure out what the linchpin to our disease is, whether that be trauma, hormonal imbalance, compromised digestion, infections etc.

1. Trigger level

This is the total amount of stress put onto us by our triggers.

The higher our trigger level is, the more triggers are stressing our body and the more likely we are to trigger.

2. Threshold level

This is the amount of tolerance our body has to stresses.

Some people are incredibly resillient and can take a beating before a migraine gets triggered.

Others are more sensitive and have a lower threshold so the amount of triggers needed to push them over the edge is less.

3. Foundational release

This is what releases the triggers from our body.

Our body is constantly:

– Repairing

– Detoxifying

– Recovering

– Rebuilding

– Cooling inflammation

– Digesting

– Resting

When we support our foundation principles, our body is able to slowly process and eliminate the trigger level created by our triggers.

But when our foundations are compromised, our trigger level stays high and we have to tip toe to avoid adding any more stress.

What are the most common migraine triggers?

Here is a statistic showing the major triggers leading to migraines among U.S. patients as of 2016

 But these are noticed at the very tip of the threshold.

These come when our trigger level is so high, our foundations are so compromised and our threshold so low that only a straw is needed to push us over.

Smells, barometric pressure, bright light, sleep issues and stress are all perfectly normal occurrences and stressors.

We have dealt with them for millions of years through evolution and they are not actually enough to create a huge problem.

But if the three areas are compromised, they will push us right into a migraine pain cycle.

Here is a more indepth statistic showing a wider array of triggers for both migraine with aura and migraine without aura.

 This statistic goes into more depth and gives us an idea of some food triggers reported by migraine patients.

The big things we can take away from this post is that:

  • Fasting and skipping meals is a no no

  • Caffeine withdrawal will create rebound

  • Low fluid consumption takes crucial water away from cooling the fire going on in our brains and bodies

  • Alcohol is terrible for blood sugar, dehydration and hormone balance

  • Many migraine sufferers have gallbladder issues and this shows up with trouble processing fatty foods

  • Keep consistent sleeping habits that fall in line with the setting of the sun making us wind down and the rising of the sun making us “wind up”

  • Keeping a daily mindfulness or meditative practice can kill all the stress in our lives and our body’s reaction to it

For a detailed explanation of food triggers along with a total list and way to reduce them sign up for the pre release of my food triggers guide here.

Now we can enter into food specific migraine triggers which create a massive impact on trigger levels.

Food Triggers

Before we start it’s important to note that in this study, when food triggers were eliminated, environmental sensitivities like the ones to odors, light, weather etc. all reduced.

This shows how important food triggers really are.

study done on food that completely eliminated headaches in 85% of the participants and reduced the headaches in 100% found these to be the most common food triggers:

  • Wheat (78%)

  • Orange (65%)

  • Eggs (45%)

  • Tea and coffee (40% each)

  • Chocolate and milk (37%) each)

  • Beef (35%)

  • Corn (33%)

  • Cane sugar (33%)

  • Yeast (33%)

These are some of the most common culprits because they can be inflammatory and are staples in our diets which means they are constantly introduced to our bodies and increase the likelihood our body will eventually say no under stress.

In my food triggers guide I go into detail about what causes food triggers, the most common food triggers, the most successful migraine diet studies and how to heal the gut to regain tolerance to foods.

So what are all the triggers we should screen our bodies for to see what system is the most stressed out?

The most common triggers I’ve found play a major role in my patients lives are:

– Hormones, hormonal imbalance and hormonal troubles around menses (5 mistakes of hormonal migraines guide)

– Pregnancy, hormonal contraceptives, hormone replacement therapy

– Dehydration

– Lack of exercise

– Improper sleep

– Mental or emotional stress

– Anxiety

– Trauma

– Musculoskeletal imbalances

– Weather changes

– Bright lights

– High altitudes

– Strong odors

– Blood sugar imbalance

– Weather

– Caffeine

– Alcohol

– Exhaustion

– Infection

– Allergies


– Artificial sweeteners

– Medication overuse

To be honest, there is probably many more I have missed but it’s critically important to understand that the cause of the trigger is even more important than the trigger itself.

See the video below on the 10 most common migraine food triggers:

Look below the surface of the trigger to find the cause.

If our body has become susceptible to a number of foods, there is likely a weakness that has developed in our system that is allowing the foods to wreak havoc. This is often a digestive compromise. Try an oligoantigenic diet.

If our menses are triggering for us, there is a hormonal imbalance going on. Hormones do not go out of balance for no reason. They are incredibly important neurotransmitters that our body uses to communicate so if they are going out-of-whack then the problem needs to be looked at deeper and corrected. (Free E-guide)

If even the slightest fasts from food are causing our blood sugar to drop then we need to look at how our brain is processing food and if it’s overly carbohydrate dependant.

These are all different factors and systems that we take a deep dive into to understand what is causing the migraines.

I can help you find all your triggers, eliminate them and get you migraine free but to get you back to living a normal healthy life, we have to address the underlying causes and find what’s causing the house to collapse in on itself.

This is why I created the food triggers guide which is currently in its pre release.

To get onto the list and find out how I help migraine sufferers regain some of their sensitive foods join here.

Share using the facebook link so others can benefit and learn about their own triggers.

Comment below and let me know:

How do triggers affect your life?

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Mark Canadic

Mark Canadic

Holistic Health Practitioner

Mark Canadic is a writer, speaker, holistic health practitioner and migraine community leader. Read Mark’s inspiring comeback story, “My Burnout and Brain Fires that Lead me to the Root.” Feel free to send Mark a message here.

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The FREE 5 Most Common Mistakes Of Hormonal Migraines E-Guide teaches you:

– Why hormones are the most important focus around why your migraines and headaches keep triggering

– How PMS is common but NOT normal and why it needs to be addressed to be pain free in the long term

– The 5 most common mistakes why hormones stay broken, why so many women become migraine free with pregnancy and why birth control is not a solution