Diet Can Affect Your Migraines: Here’s How
While it’s common to have a brief, mild headache or two every week or so, nearly 15% of adults regularly experience severe headaches and migraines that greatly impact their lives. According to the US National Center for Health Statistics, an average of 1 in 7 people report having had just such a severe headache within the last 3 months. While the exact causes of migraines aren’t entirely understood, a growing body of evidence shows that some foods and drinks can trigger an episode, and that dietary changes can make a big difference. How can healthy eating impact a migraine?
What is a Migraine Headache?
While many of us have experienced a mild headache caused by tension, excessive noise, or an illness, a migraine can cause severe throbbing and pulsing, typically on one side of the head. Also, the pain can be accompanied by extreme sensitivity to light and sound, nausea, vomiting, tingling on the face, arms or legs, difficulty speaking, and even visual disturbances called auras. Because they can be debilitating for hours and even days, they are greatly disabling and interfere with normal activities. How can food help?
Diet as a Disease Modifier
An often quoted adage from ancient physicians suggests to “let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food,” and in the case of chronic migraine, this wisdom is especially relevant. The addition or elimination of food items can be a trigger for some people (think of adding or removing caffeine), so developing awareness around intake and managing dietary choices can help to avoid an episode. Also, some studies indicate that using such elimination diets can help migraine and pain medications work more effectively.
The Gut-Brain Axis
Some of the most exciting advances in medicine in recent years have evolved around the concept of the gut-brain axis, or the bi-directional relationship between the GI tract, or gut, and the Central Nervous System, of which the brain is a part. Already, several reports have indicated that migraine is associated with some gastrointestinal disorders, to which gut-related elements like inflammatory mediators, the microbiome profile, stress hormones, nutritional substances, and neuropeptides could contribute. Having a healthy diet has been shown to support and nourish healthy gut flora, which could lead to less chronic migraine episodes.
Nutritional Support Alleviates Impact
Many people with migraines report feeling extremely exhausted in the hours or days following an episode, and studies show that the intense strain can accompany energy deficits and oxidative stress in brain tissues. Nutritional support is an important aspect of chronic migraine prevention and therapy, and can include vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, enzymes and other nutraceuticals that can supplement a normal, healthy diet that supports and restores healthy brain function.
Extra Strength Pain needs Extra Special Care
When chronic migraines impact your life, it’s important to find relief fast by trusting your care to the best physicians available. At MAPS Centers for Pain Control, our teams of compassionate and dedicated medical professionals are guided by double board-certified physicians who are uniquely qualified to provide every patient with the most advanced and effective options for pain management available. Schedule your visit today to learn about our comprehensive and responsible approach to your chronic migraine pain relief.