Migraine headaches affect 24% of the population, including me. Everyone gets headaches, but migraines are a group of symptoms that are connected to the central nervous system and often indicate underlying conditions. Migraines can affect sight, hearing, balance and even disrupt proper functioning of the G.I. tract. When I started to discover some of my own migraine triggers I noticed the symptoms correlated strongly to my diet.
Cured meat was my ultimate go to as a chef, for adding deep rich umami to a dish almost nothing compares. My diet was peppered with buffalo mozzarella and mortadella sandwiches and pasta carbonara, not to mention late night snacking on crusty bread and sliced coppa with mustard, but it was not meant to last.
Contained within these foods is protein called tyramine, which has been correlated to trigger headaches in migraine sufferers. This protein, combined with other chemicals in the brain can not only trigger headaches but can also raise blood pressure and seriously affect overall health.
Here is the good news, cured meats are not off the menu. The correlation comes from the combination of the protein tyramine and the fermentation process often used to cure or preserve these products. Not only that, if there are foods that trigger migraines then you better believe there are foods that prevent them. Enjoying cured meat and cheese in moderation, and adding some of these remedy foods into your diet on a regular basis can let you have your prosciutto wrapped grissini, and eat it too.
Spinach, Swiss chard
-Contains magnesium, which has been shown to significantly prevent the conditions in the brain that cause migraine headaches.
Salmon, Olive oil, Walnut oil
–Omega 3 Fatty acids have been shown to reduce the frequency and severity of migraine headaches.
Seeds, Nuts, Mushrooms
Here is a recipe I eat at least once a week that is packed with these preventative foods and helps keep my diet in check.
One Pan Pacific Salmon
2 pieces salmon 6-7 oz each
5-6 large pieces swiss chard, washed and roughly chopped
1 large sweet potato peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp maple syrup
1/2 tsp crushed chilies
2 tbsp roasted peanuts, chopped
- In a large fry pan with a tight fitting lid saute the sweet potato in olive oil over medium-high heat until golden and starting to soften about 5 minutes. Add the swiss chard and lower the heat to half, covering it so the potatoes can steam a little.
- Sprinkle a little salt on the salmon and let it come to room temperature while you make the sauce.
- Combine the lemon juice, maple syrup, chilies
- Once the potatoes are cooked through spread out the mixture of chard and create an even layer in the pan, lay the salmon in the pan and spoon the sauce over each piece being sure to use it all.
- Cover the salmon and let it cook covered for 7-10 minutes
To serve the salmon, spoon a little of the sweet potato and swiss chard mixture on the plate, top it with the steamed salmon and sprinkle with chopped peanuts. Enjoy!