Healthy eating as a preventive measure for managing vertigo
There is no secret that an unhealthy diet harms your body. Many patients who experience vertigo due to Ménière’s disease or migraine find that diet modifications help to reduce future attacks and manage their condition1. While there are some foods that can trigger vertigo and should be avoided, there are specific foods that can improve the chances of reducing vertigo attacks2.
Discuss with your doctor the best diet to adopt, based on the cause of your vertigo. He/She is the best person to give you advice based on your health profile.
1. Why can your diet influence your vertigo?
Most of the time, vertigo is caused by disturbances from the inner ear. The fluid that is inside your ear is influenced by substances in your blood and other body fluids2. There are certain foods that can affect the concentration of substances inside your ear and provoke symptoms such as tinnitus (ringing in the ear), migraine, and imbalance1,2. By eliminating or reducing those foods, you can reduce the chances of having future vertigo attacks.
2. What foods should I avoid?
Sodium is a mineral regulated by the kidney. It helps to control the body’s fluid balance3. However, its excess contributes to fluctuation in the inner ear fluid pressure and may increase your vertigo symptoms2. Salty foods are a major source of sodium in our body7. If you are a vertigo patient, the consumption of salty foods should be reduced to decrease the level of sodium in the body 3,7. Examples of high-sodium foods are the following3:
- white bread
- snacks (chips, popcorns, pretzels)
- canned soups
- egg dishes
Alcohol can cause dehydration and its metabolites are toxic to the brain and inner ear4. Alcohol can trigger symptoms such as migraine, nausea, and vertigo4. Alcohol has been recognized as affecting the inner ear due to its effect on the composition and volume of the fluid1. If you suffer from vertigo, it is recommended you eliminate alcohol, as it can make you dizzy4.
Caffeine results in excessive urinary body fluids and can worsen symptoms such as tinnitus due to its diuretic properties1. If you want to reduce your caffeine consumption, you should avoid the following foods and beverages1:
- soft drinks
Instead of drinking coffee or tea, it is recommended you favor water, milk, and low-sugar fruit juices. You should drink at least two liters of water per day.
Food containing high levels of sugar can cause fluctuations in the volume of body fluids, which may increase vertigo symptoms1. Patients should reduce foods and beverages with high concentrations of added sugar, such as5:
- sugar-sweetened beverages (soda and energy drinks)
- syrup, cane juice
- baked items (cakes, muffins, pies, cookies)
- ice cream
E. Migraine triggers
Specific foods and beverages are particularly known as migraine triggers. Avoiding those foods can help to reduce vestibular migraines and avoid future episodes of vertigo1. Foods with a higher level of the amino acid tyramine can trigger migraine. Tyramine can result in a higher production of a chemical called norepinephrine that can lead to headaches6. The following foods are known to have a high concentration of tyramine and should be avoided for patients with recurrent migraines1:
- chicken liver
- smoked meats
- sour cream
- pickled herring
- citrus fruits
- ripened cheeses (such as cheddar, Stilton, Brie, and Camembert)
Consult with your doctor and/ or nutritionist to determine what is the best diet in your case.
- Vestibular Disorder Association. Dietary Considerations. https://vestibular.org/article/coping-support/dietary-considerations/. Published 2020. Accessed October 30, 2020.
- Meniere’s disease, University of Iowa, hospitals & clinics (page 4) https://uihc.org/health-topics/menieres-disease Accessed April 27, 2021.
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Sodium in Your Diet. https://www.fda.gov/food/nutrition-education-resources-materials/sodium-your-diet . Published 2020. Accessed October 20, 2020.
- Alcoholism: effects on the cochleo-vestibular apparatus. Bellé M, Sartori Sdo A, Rossi AG. Braz J Otorhinolaryngol. 2007 Jan-Feb;73(1):110-6. doi: 10.1016/s1808-8694(15)31132-0. PMID: 17505609. http://www.rborl.org.br Accessed April 27, 2021
- American Heart Association. Added Sugar Is Not So Sweet – Infographic. www.heart.org. https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/sugar/added-sugar-is-not-so-sweet-infographic. Published 2020. Accessed October 20, 2020.
- Balance H, Relationships S, Care O et al. Tyramine-Rich Foods as A Migraine Trigger & Low Tyramine Diet. WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/migraines-headaches/tyramine-and-migraines. Published 2020. Accessed October 30, 2020.
- Eating well with Meniere’s Disease. https://muschealth.org/medical-services/ent/otology/vertigo/eating-well. Published 2020. Accessed May 10, 2021