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Food Can Give You a Hangover

The connection between specific foods and migraines is tough to prove, scientifically, but those with migraines often switch their diets to avoid foods that trigger the pain

You wake up in the morning, achey and sore, head pounding. All signs point to hangover, but you didn’t drink last night. You did, however, have three burritos and some cheesy fries. Turns out, food hangovers are a real thing. The Wall Street Journal reports:

It isn’t just heavy alcohol consumption that can bring on a massive headache the next day; some researchers say a range of unexpected foods, from cheese to pickles to citrus fruit, can do the same.

The connection between specific foods and migraines is tough to prove, scientifically, but those with migraines often switch their diets to avoid foods that trigger the pain. What those foods are seems to differ for everyone. Some find salami and meats with nitrates killer. For others its avocado or bananas. Some of these have been tested. Here’s The Wall Street Journal again:

The National Headache Foundation suggests patients might want to limit their intake of tyramine to help control headaches. Tyramine’s connection to headaches came to light with the advent of a class of antidepressants, known by the acronym MAOIs. The drugs block an enzyme that breaks down excess tyramine, which can boost blood pressure and cause headaches and nausea when it accumulates in the body.

Others are simply anecdotal. And some studies suggest that avoiding certain foods doesn’t help at all. One asked 167 patients to cut out trigger foods, and while they had fewer migraines, the different wasn’t statistically significant. Other studies with smaller sample sizes did find a relationship.

Basically, it’s confusing. But if every time you eat a McRib you get a migraine, you should probably stop eating them, unless you want to feel hungover all day.

More from Smithsonian.com:

Mocktails for Expectant Moms and Hangover-Free Holidays
Way-Underage Drinking: How Young Is Too Young?

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About Rose Eveleth
Rose Eveleth

Rose Eveleth is a writer for Smart News and a producer/designer/ science writer/ animator based in Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Scientific American, Story Collider, TED-Ed and OnEarth.

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