Foods to Avoid on a Tyramine Restricted Diet (MAOI Diet)

Tyramine, also known by several other names, is a chemical in foods and in the body derived from the amino acid tyrosine. It belongs to a category called monoamines.

Tyramine side effects

Avoid consuming foods that are high in tyramine if you take monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOI) for depression. You may need to continue following a low-tyramine diet for a few weeks after you stop the medication.

Tyramine has an effect on blood pressure and is regulated by the enzyme monoamine oxidase. An extreme rise in blood pressure is dangerous because it can damage your body’s organs.

Monoamine oxidase (MAO) is an enzyme found in nerve endings, gastrointestinal tract, the liver, and brain. In the gut, it guards against the buildup of compounds that could be dangerous. The role of MAO is to change tyramine and other amine-containing compounds into a nontoxic substance that is then excreted from the body. It also breaks down numerous messengers for the nervous system including the brain, known as monoamine neurotransmitters.

What not to eat with MAOI?

Foods that contain this substance may also trigger headaches in migraineurs by facilitating a chain reaction which results in selective cerebral vasoconstriction followed by rebound dilation of the cranial vessels.

Dairy – tyramine amount increases in foods as they age, hence, fermented foods contain high amounts. Therefore, you must totally avoid aged cheeses including but not limited to provolone, brie, cheddar, blue, Swiss, and mozzarella. Foods such as buttermilk, yogurt, and sour cream are somewhat low in this substance.

Fish, meat, poultry – canned, aged, cured or processed meat, including game or ham, salted dried fish, pickled herring, caviar, chicken livers.

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Alcohol – beer (including some non-alcoholic beers), ale, red wine, port, sauternes, riesling, vermouth, sherry, and distilled spirits.

Condiments – there are various seasonings and condiments that should be avoided. Those to be avoided include but are not limited to bouillon, dry packaged and canned soups, gravy, sauces, or instant soup dry powder bases.

Fermented soy products such as fermented bean curd (bean pastes) and soy sauce and other concentrated yeast extracts contain tyramine. In addition, dietary supplements that claim to contain this substance are currently being marketed as weight loss agents.

Moreover, limit caffeine intake. While there is no tyramine in caffeine, consuming too much caffeine can produce a high blood pressure.

Migraine diet foods that help your headaches:

Rice, especially brown rice, cooked orange vegetables, such as sweet potatoes or carrots, cooked green vegetables, such as spinach, broccoli, or collards, cooked yellow vegetables, such as summer squash, dried or cooked non-citrus fruits: cranberries, cherries, pears, or prunes.

If you want to limit your tyramine intake, follow these guidelines:

  • Use extra caution when storing, selecting, and preparing your food;
  • Don’t thaw foods at room temperature but thaw in the refrigerator;
  • Do not eat foods that are at or beyond their expiration date;
  • Eat fresh produce foods within two days of purchase.

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