Certain foods and drinks can trigger a migraine. One commonly accepted trigger is tyramine. Tyramine is a byproduct from the breakdown of the amino acid tyrosine. If you suffer from chronic migraine headaches, eliminating tyramine from your diet, can potentially help. In fact, most people looking for tyramine rich foods, are typically trying to limit their tyramine intake, as opposed to getting more tyramine in their diet. We’re going to talk about some of the most common tyramine rich foods, to help you avoid them and improve your well being.
What Is Tyramine?
Scientifically speaking, tyramine is a biogenic trace monoamine, that is generated from the decarboxylation of the amino acid tyrosine. Tyramine can influence a multitude of physiological mechanisms, exhibiting immunological effects, as well as cardiovascular and neuromodulatory properties. Tyramine is naturally found in foods, plants, and animals. All monoamines have an amine group independent of an aromatic ring by a two-carbon chain. Dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin are all monoamines.
Limiting tyramine intake comes from medications called monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) These inhibitors block monoamine oxidase, to potentially treat depression. Tyramine was linked to headaches in the 1950s when physicians began prescribing MAOIs and found that some patients were complaining of headaches and symptoms of high blood pressure.
Tyramine Rich Foods
Tyramine is found in aged, cured, and fermented foods where microbes with decarboxylase enzymes convert the amino acid tyrosine into tyramine. Ingestion of high tyramine foods while taking monoamine inhibitors produces headaches, blurry vision, chest pain, and hypertension [R]. Although researchers are not exactly sure of its exact mechanism of action, and how tyramine triggers migraines, one theory is that causes nerve cells to release norepinephrine.
1. Aged Cheese
Certain types of cheese which undergo an aging process are typically high in tyramine, such as aged cheddar, blue cheese, swiss, feta, and parmesan. Cheese with a shorter aging time such as American, cottage, yogurt, sour cream, and cream cheese are generally lower in tyramine content.
2. Cured Meats
Fresh meat, poultry, and fish are low in tyramine and high in the amino acid tyrosine, seeing they have not had time to form microbes with decarboxylase enzymes. Aged or cured meats such as salami, smoked fish, caviar, and dry salami are typically very tyramine rich. Charcuterie boards unfortunately are a no go.
3. Pickled Or Fermented Vegetables
Pickled fruit or vegetables such as sauerkraut, kimchi, pickled beets, pickles, and pickled peppers are high in tyramine. Fermented soy products such as tofu, miso, and soy sauce also have high tyramine levels.
4. Citrus Fruit
Many different types of citrus and tropical fruit are tyramine rich, especially when ripened. Fruits such as orange, grapefruit, lemon, tangerine, bananas, pineapple, and avocado can trigger migraines due to high tyramine levels. Dried and overripe fruit should be avoided to minimize potential headaches.
5. Fermented Alcohols
Aged or fermented alcohol like red wine, beer, vermouth, and sherry are considerably rich in tyramine. If you typically have migraine headaches, it’s best to stay away from these specific alcoholic beverages, and choose a drink which has bourbon, gin, rum, or vodka.
Tyramine Rich Foods: Takeaway
If you’re experiencing headaches and taking MAOIs, then it’s advised to limit tyramine rich foods, in order to prevent the onset of migraine headaches, and symptoms of high blood pressure. Instead of eating cured meats and aged cheese, opt for greek yogurt, lean quality proteins, and fresh food. Eating food prepped within the same week, or food that does not undergo an aging process is an easy way to limit your tyramine intake.
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Burns C, Kidron A. Biochemistry, Tyramine. 2020 Oct 16. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan–. PMID: 33085344.