By Taylor Jones
Migraines affect up to 15 percent of adults worldwide (1).
They differ from an average headache in severity and symptoms and can greatly reduce the quality of life of people who suffer from them.
Despite decades of research, the exact cause of migraines is still unknown.
It is clear that diet won't cause a person to start experiencing migraines.
However, for the people who do suffer from migraines, diet is one of several factors that may trigger one.
This is a list of the foods most commonly reported as migraine triggers.
1. Aged Cheeses
Cheese is often identified as a migraine trigger.
Other foods high in tyramine include those that are aged, cured, dried, smoked or pickled, including cheddar cheese, Swiss cheese, salami, sauerkraut and tofu.
Unfortunately, the evidence on tyramine and migraines is mixed. Yet, more than half of the studies looking for a relationship between tyramine and migraines found that tyramine could act as a trigger in some people (3).
High-quality studies are needed to confirm this link, though it's estimated that approximately 5 percent of people who suffer from migraines are sensitive to tyramine (3).
If you feel your migraines are triggered by hard cheeses, this may be the reason why.
Summary: Aged cheeses and other foods high in tyramine are often considered migraine triggers. The evidence is mixed, but there may be a link.
Chocolate is a commonly reported migraine trigger.
However, the evidence is conflicting.
For example, one small study in migraine sufferers found that 5 of 12 participants got migraine attacks within one day of eating chocolate (5).
Interestingly, none of them got an attack after ingesting the placebo.
Therefore, it's likely that chocolate is not a major factor in migraines for most people. Despite this, those who feel that chocolate is a trigger may want to avoid it.
Summary: Chocolate is one of the most commonly reported migraine triggers. This may be related to some of the plant compounds found in chocolate.
3. Cured or Processed Meats
In fact, in the 1970s when people first reported headaches after consuming nitrites, they were often referred to as "hot dog headaches" (1).
Today, cured and processed meats are still often reported as migraine triggers.
Nitrites may provoke migraines by causing the expansion of blood vessels.
However, further research is needed to say how relevant this is for migraine sufferers (3).
Summary: Processed or cured meats often contain nitrates or nitrites, which may trigger headaches in susceptible people.
4. Fatty and Fried Foods
Fat may also affect susceptibility to migraines.
This may be because high levels of certain fats in the blood lead to the production of prostaglandins.
Prostaglandins can cause your blood vessels to dilate, potentially leading to migraines and increased pain (10).
One study on this association found that at the beginning of the study, participants eating a high-fat diet containing more than 69 grams of fat daily had nearly twice as many headaches at those who ate less fat (10).
They also found that after reducing their fat intake, the participants' headache frequency and intensity decreased. Nearly 95 percent of the participants reported a 40 percent improvement in their headaches (10).
However, in both studies, other factors besides fat intake were changed, such as weight loss or excluding animal products.
Therefore, it's not possible to say for sure that lowering fat intake alone was responsible for the improvements.
Summary: Eating a diet high in fat may increase the frequency of migraines. Consequently, lowering fat intake has been shown to improve migraine intensity and frequency.
5. Some Chinese Food
Reports of headaches in response to consuming MSG have been prevalent for several decades.
Alternatively, these foods' typically high fat or salt contents could be to blame.
Nevertheless, MSG continues to be frequently reported as a headache and migraine trigger.
Summary: Monosodium glutamate, which is present in many Chinese and processed foods, is often reported to provoke headaches.
6. Coffee, Tea and Sodas
Caffeine is often used to treat headaches.
But interestingly, some evidence suggests that it can indirectly provoke migraines.
A "caffeine withdrawal headache" is a well-known phenomenon in which a headache occurs as the effects of caffeine wear off.
This happens when blood vessels start to expand again after contracting in response to caffeine consumption (3).
This effect could trigger migraines in those who are susceptible.
However, caffeine withdrawal seems to more commonly cause the average, non-migraine headache (1).
Summary: Caffeine may indirectly trigger headaches via withdrawal effects. This happens when the effects of caffeine wear off and certain blood vessels expand.
7. Artificial Sweeteners
Aspartame is a type of artificial sweetener that is frequently added to foods and beverages to make them taste sweet without adding sugar.
A few small studies have investigated whether aspartame negatively affects people who suffer from migraines.
Unfortunately, the studies were either small or had design flaws, but they did find that aspartame affected headaches in some migraine sufferers.
One of these studies found that more than half of 11 participants experienced increased migraine frequency after consuming large amounts of aspartame (15).
Therefore, it's possible that a portion of migraine sufferers may be sensitive to aspartame.
Summary: Aspartame is a common artificial sweetener that may increase migraine frequency in some people.
8. Alcoholic Drinks
Alcoholic drinks are one of the oldest-known triggers for headaches and migraines alike. Unfortunately, the reason why is not so clear.
People who get migraines tend to drink less alcohol than people who don't get migraines and they seem more likely than others to experience migraine symptoms as part of a hangover (16).
However, alcohol itself may not be to blame.
People often point to red wine, rather than alcohol in general, as a migraine trigger.
As evidence, one study found that drinking red wine, but not vodka, provoked headaches (18).
However, the exact cause of this is still unknown.
Regardless, it's estimated that alcoholic drinks can trigger migraines in approximately 10 percent of people who get migraines.
While there isn't a need for most migraine sufferers to avoid alcohol completely, those who are susceptible should limit their consumption (4).
Summary: Alcoholic drinks are one of the most well-known migraine triggers. However, alcohol is not a problem for everyone who gets migraines and the reason why is unclear.
9. Cold Food and Drinks
Most people have heard of the "ice cream" headaches that cold or frozen foods and beverages can trigger.
However, these foods and beverages may also provoke migraines in susceptible people.
One study asked participants to hold an ice cube between their tongues and the roofs of their mouths for 90 seconds in order to study cold-induced headaches (19).
They found that this test triggered headaches in 74 percent of the 76 migraine sufferers who participated. On the other hand, it triggered pain in only 32 percent of those who suffered from non-migraine headaches (19).
Another study found that women who had experienced a migraine within the previous year were twice as likely to develop a headache after drinking ice-cold water, compared to women who never suffered from migraines (20).
Therefore, migraine sufferers who notice that their headaches are triggered by cold foods may want to avoid ice-cold or frozen foods and drinks, including frozen yogurt, ice cream or slushies.
Summary: People who suffer from migraines may be more likely to experience a cold-induced headache than the average person. Therefore, it may be a good idea to avoid very cold foods and drinks.
The Bottom Line
Although diet will not cause someone to start getting migraines, it is one of many factors that can trigger a migraine in someone who frequently experiences them.
Therefore, migraine sufferers who have dietary triggers may find relief by avoiding any foods they are sensitive to.
The best way to identify if certain foods trigger migraines for you is to create a food and symptom diary and check to see if any patterns emerge.
Additionally, make sure to pay particular attention to the foods and drinks in the list above.
Limiting common food triggers is a good place to start reducing the frequency and severity of your migraines.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Authority Nutrition.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Alexandra Rowles
Oregano is a fragrant herb that's best known as an ingredient in Italian food.
However, it can also be concentrated into an essential oil that's loaded with antioxidants and powerful compounds that have proven health benefits.
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By Emily Grubert
Natural gas is a versatile fossil fuel that accounts for about a third of U.S. energy use. Although it produces fewer greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants than coal or oil, natural gas is a major contributor to climate change, an urgent global problem. Reducing emissions from the natural gas system is especially challenging because natural gas is used roughly equally for electricity, heating, and industrial applications.
<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="6bd9fda1316965a9ba24dd60fd9cc34d"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/3KaMnkmf0tc?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
What RNG Is and Why it Matters<p>Most equipment that uses energy can only use a single kind of fuel, but the fuel might come from different resources. For example, you can't charge your computer with gasoline, but it can run on electricity generated from coal, natural gas or solar power.</p><p>Natural gas is almost pure methane, <a href="https://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/natural-gas/" target="_blank">currently sourced</a> from raw, fossil natural gas produced from <a href="https://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/natural-gas/where-our-natural-gas-comes-from.php" target="_blank">deposits deep underground</a>. But methane could come from renewable resources, too.</p><p><span></span>Two main methane sources could be used to make RNG. First is <a href="https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/inventory-us-greenhouse-gas-emissions-and-sinks" target="_blank">biogenic methane</a>, produced by bacteria that digest organic materials in manure, landfills and wastewater. Wastewater treatment plants, landfills and dairy farms have captured and used biogenic methane as an energy resource for <a href="http://emilygrubert.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/eia_860_2017_map.html" target="_blank">decades</a>, in a form usually called <a href="https://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/biomass/landfill-gas-and-biogas.php" target="_blank">biogas</a>.</p><p>Some biogenic methane is generated naturally when organic materials break down without oxygen. Burning it for energy can be beneficial for the climate if doing so prevents methane from escaping to the atmosphere.</p>
Renewable Isn’t Always Sustainable<p>If RNG could be a renewable replacement for fossil natural gas, why not move ahead? Consumers have shown that they are <a href="https://www.nrel.gov/analysis/green-power.html" target="_blank">willing to buy renewable electricity</a>, so we might expect similar enthusiasm for RNG.</p><p>The key issue is that methane isn't just a fuel – it's also a <a href="https://www.eia.gov/environment/emissions/ghg_report/ghg_overview.php" target="_blank">potent greenhouse gas</a> that contributes to climate change. Any methane that is manufactured intentionally, whether from biogenic or other sources, will contribute to climate change if it enters the atmosphere.</p><p>And <a href="http://doi.org/10.1126/science.aar7204" target="_blank">releases</a> <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.wasman.2019.07.029" target="_blank">will happen</a>, from newly built production systems and <a href="https://theconversation.com/why-methane-emissions-matter-to-climate-change-5-questions-answered-122684" target="_blank">existing, leaky transportation and user infrastructure</a>. For example, the moment you smell gas before the pilot light on a stove lights the ring? That's methane leakage, and it contributes to climate change.</p><p>To be clear, RNG is almost certainly better for the climate than fossil natural gas because byproducts of burning RNG won't contribute to climate change. But doing somewhat better than existing systems is no longer enough to respond to the <a href="https://doi.org/10.1038/nclimate2923" target="_blank">urgency</a> of climate change. The world's <a href="https://www.ipcc.ch/sr15/chapter/spm/" target="_blank">primary international body on climate change</a> suggests we need to decarbonize by 2030 to mitigate the worst effects of climate change.</p>
Scant Climate Benefits<p><a href="https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/ab9335/meta" target="_blank">My recent research</a> suggests that for a system large enough to displace a lot of fossil natural gas, RNG is probably not as good for the climate as <a href="https://investor.southerncompany.com/information-for-investors/latest-news/latest-news-releases/press-release-details/2020/Southern-Company-Gas-grows-leadership-team-to-focus-on-climate-action-innovation-and-renewable-natural-gas-strategy/default.aspx" target="_blank">is publicly claimed</a>. Although RNG has lower climate impact than its fossil counterpart, likely high demand and methane leakage mean that it probably will contribute to climate change. In contrast, renewable sources such as wind and solar energy do not <a href="https://www.eia.gov/environment/emissions/carbon/" target="_blank">emit climate pollution directly</a>.</p><p>What's more, creating a large RNG system would require building mostly new production infrastructure, since RNG comes from different sources than fossil natural gas. Such investments are both long-term commitments and opportunity costs. They would devote money, political will and infrastructure investments to RNG instead of alternatives that could achieve a zero greenhouse gas emission goal.</p><p>When climate change first <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/1988/06/24/us/global-warming-has-begun-expert-tells-senate.html" target="_blank">broke into the political conversation</a> in the late 1980s, investing in long-lived systems with low but non-zero greenhouse gas emissions was still compatible with aggressive climate goals. Now, zero greenhouse gas emissions is the target, and my research suggests that large deployments of RNG likely won't meet that goal.</p>
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By Charli Shield
When an elephant dies in the wild, it's not uncommon to later find its bones scattered throughout the surrounding landscape.
Elephant Burial Grounds<p>Highly social creatures that form deep familial bonds, elephants have long been observed gathering at the site where a peer or family member has died — often spending hours, even days, quietly investigating the bodies or the bones of other dead elephants.</p><p>Although the popular idea that dying elephants are instinctively drawn to special communal graves — so-called "elephant graveyards" — is a myth, their tendency to go out of their way to visit the bones and tusks of the deceased isn't unlike human rituals at graveyards, says animal psychologist Karen McComb.</p><p>"They spend a lot of time touching and smelling skulls and ivory, placing the soles of their feet gently on top of them, and also lifting them up with their trunks," McComb, who's been studying African elephants for 25 years in Kenya's Amboseli National Park, told DW.</p><p>The most striking part of watching an elephant experience loss, Poole recalls, is the quietude. She still remembers one of the first elephant deaths she witnessed; a mother who birthed a stillborn calf. That elephant stayed with its baby for two days, trying to lift it and defending it from vultures and hyenas.</p><p>"I was so struck by the expression on her face and her body. She looked so dejected. It was really like, 'Oh God, these animals grieve…'. It was just so different," Poole told DW. </p>
Witnessing Emotions in Animals<p>Not all scientists are comfortable concluding that elephants grieve. Among the more than 30 reports of elephant reactions to death that Wittemyer co-reviewed in <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10329-019-00766-5" target="_blank">a study published in November 2019</a> were accounts of "enormous variation and nuance" he says. "It can be incredibly involved and intricate for extended periods or can be relatively cursory checks."</p><p>In Wittemyer's own experience, it can be difficult not to attribute some kind of emotional experience to the more involved interactions between elephants and their dead.</p><p>He shares the story of an "extraordinary event" involving the death of a 55 year-old matriarch in Kenya in a protected area that happened to be near his place of work. She was visited by multiple unrelated families while she was dying, including another matriarch that exerted such enormous effort attempting to lift her to her feet that she broke her tusk, which Wittemyer says, is "like breaking a tooth." </p><p><span></span>"It was a remarkable example of this heightened emotional state, it was very clearly a very stressful interaction," he says.</p>
A Different Sensory World<p>One factor that limits our ability to fully grasp the way elephants process and respond to loss is our markedly different sensory experiences of the world.</p><p>An elephant's world is fundamentally olfactory — based on smell. Ours is visual. Previous <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25053675/" target="_blank">research</a> has shown elephants possess the most scent receptors of any mammal, and can <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17949977/" target="_blank">use smell</a> to discern the difference between different human tribes from the same local area.</p><p>That could explain why elephants exhibit such interest in sniffing the bones and tusks of others, as a <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1617198/" target="_blank">2005 study</a> from McCombs highlighted. When presented with the skulls and ivory of long-dead elephants and those from other large herbivores, including rhino and buffalo, McCombs and her team found elephants approached and were specifically attracted to the remains of their own species. </p><p>Without access to the smells an elephant picks up on, Wittemyer says "an enormous amount of stuff" could be missed by humans when studying these behaviors.</p>
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