Ah, the joys of modern medicine.
I’ve begun taking a drug that requires me to restrict my diet severely. I’m not allowed to eat aged cheese, sausage, draft beer, sourdough bread, or anything else that contains significant amounts of tyramine, an amino acid that helps regulate blood pressure.
Eating the forbidden fruit can cause severe headache, nausea, stiff neck, vomiting, a fast or slow heartbeat, tight chest pain, a lot of sweating, confusion, dilated pupils, and sensitivity to light. People have died after bingeing on cheese.
So many foods are restricted (sauerkraut, bacon, caviar, peanuts, vermouth!) that I need a way to remind myself of what to avoid. I hope visualization can prop up my memory.
If pictures aren’t your thing, here’s a good list from the National Headache Foundation. (Tyramine can cause migraine headaches in people who are sensitive to it.)
Foods to Avoid on a Tyramine-Restricted Diet
The following foods have limited amounts of tyramine. It’s okay to consume up to 1/2 a cup daily.
I assembled the list from Wikipedia and a dozen medical sites. None of the sites list all of these items. The list on the Mayo Clinic site is typical:
“Tyramine is naturally found in small amounts in protein-containing foods. As these foods age, the tyramine level increases. Some foods high in tyramine include:
- Aged cheeses, such as aged cheddar and Swiss; blue cheeses such as Stilton and Gorgonzola; and Camembert. Cheeses made from pasteurized milk are less likely to contain high levels of tyramine, including American cheese, cottage cheese, ricotta, farm cheese and cream cheese.
- Cured meats, which are meats treated with salt and nitrate or nitrite, such as dry-type summer sausages, pepperoni and salami.
- Fermented cabbage, such as sauerkraut and kimchee.
- Soy sauce, fish sauce and shrimp sauce.
- Yeast-extract spreads, such as Marmite.
- Improperly stored foods or spoiled foods.
- Broad bean pods, such as fava beans.”
The amount of tyramine depends on how the food was processed and how old it is. Tyramine increases as a food ages. Pickled, smoked, fermented, or marinated meats are generally high in tyramine. Fresh produce is okay if you eat it within 48 hours of purchase. Nuts are never okay. A draft beer contains 25 times as much tyramine as a can of beer.
See the follow-up, The MAOI Patch and the Tyramine Diet.