Nitrates and Migraine Headaches

A study found that the mouths of migraineurs contain many more microbes with the ability to modify nitrates than non migraineurs.

What are nitrates/nitrites and why should migraineurs care? 

(Nitrates and nitrites are used interchangeably)

Nitrates are a small but still significant piece of the migraine puzzle as many migraineurs and studies say that foods with nitrates affect them and their attacks.

Nitrates are regularly turned into nitric oxide by the body and act as vasodilators, causing blood vessels to expand.

Many foods high in nitrates are known to be migraine triggers along with many drugs that contain nitric oxide.

Viagra raises nitric oxide and is known to trigger migraines in 10 out of 12 migraine patients

Nitric oxide raises CGRP which is thought to be responsible for migraines and is one of the latest targets in pharmaceutical migraine drugs so that CGRP levels can be reduced.

Piggybacking on my last article about the connection between all migraines, nitrates are known to cause oxidative stress and many foods that contain high levels of nitrates are known to be carcinogenic like bacon.

There is also a connection between nitrates and nitrosamines which are a carcinogen and this is said to be why nitrates from vegetables are safe but from meat are not.

What foods contain nitrates?

Most of the foods that have nitrates that may be harmful to migraineurs come from processed meats and packaged foods.

The nitrates that are added to foods are thought to be some of the biggest culprits.

Foods like bacon, sausage, lunch meats, most cured meats, ham, and hot dogs are all processed meats and have been linked to increases in colon cancer as well as migraine attack risk.

What can we do about nitrates turning to nitrosamines?

The most important things to do are to avoid ingesting unnatural sources of nitrates/nitrites and to have a diet high in antioxidants as well as vitamins.

Lots of fresh fruits and vegetables along with fresh pasture raised organic meats to provide all the vitamins, minerals and other nutrients we need to keep nitrates from getting out of control.

Do any of the above-listed foods trigger your migraines?

Make sure to read our articles on the migraineur food pyramid and the histamine migraine connection to understand more about food triggers.

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