The Migraine & Diet Connection

If you've ever experienced a migraine, you know how bad they can get - the pounding headache, the nausea, the light and sound sensitivity. These symptoms can get so severe that they can become incapacitating, disabling you from doing the things that you want or need to do.

Sound familiar? You're not alone. In the U.S. alone, 18% of women, 6% of men, and 10% of children suffer from migraines.

Unfortunately, the exact cause of migraines is unknown. Doctors once thought they were linked to the opening and narrowing of blood vessels in the head. Now, it is believed that genetics and changes in neurotransmitter levels within the brain play important roles. It has also been shown that certain factors in your environment can trigger a migraine. These factors are referred to as migraine triggers, and may include stress, lack of sleep, lack of physical exercise, strong stimuli like loud noises, and even diet.

Food Migraine Triggers

Migraines are often due to multiple factors, yet there are certain foods that may actually increase your chances of getting a migraine, especially when in combination with other triggers. These foods can also greatly vary between individuals. Keep in mind that every food listed below will not trigger a migraine in every person.

Foods that may cause migraine triggers:

  • Aged cheese

  • Chocolate

  • Alcohol, especially red wine and beer

  • Cured meats

  • Smoked fish

  • Yeast extract

  • Food preservatives with nitrates and nitrites (think processed and packaged foods)

  • Artificial sweeteners, especially aspartame (Nutrasweet or Equal)

  • Monosodium glutamate (MSG)

Finding your personal food triggers may be a bit complicated, especially since the effect of some of these foods can be delayed for up to 24 hours. It can be helpful to keep a food diary to document what you eat, in relation to your migraine patterns.

At Functional Fueling Nutrition, we also offer Nutrient Status Testing, which can help you understand what foods cause inflammation in your body, and thus may be causing your migraines. This can help you decide exactly which foods to eliminate from your diet to avoid migraine triggers, without having to follow a rigid diet, depriving you of the foods you love.

Click here to learn more!

More Tips to Avoid Migraines:

  • Skipping meals, or long periods between meals, can lead to low blood glucose (sugar) levels and may trigger a migraine in many people. Consider eating smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day.

  • Always pair a carbohydrate with a protein or healthy fat to stay full longer. Examples include apples and nut butter, Greek yogurt and berries, or mult-grain crackers and cheese.

  • Make sure to drink water throughout the day instead of sugary drinks like soda or juice, which can lead to a sudden spike in blood glucose, an over-production of insulin, and then a reactive drop in blood glucose levels.

were you surprised by some of these migraine triggers?


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Fuel More Functionally, Erika

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