Much of the conversation around food and migraine is about avoiding trigger foods.
I’m sure you have seen the lists before…chocolate, alcohol, cheese, citrus, wheat, dairy, and so on.
While not chowing down on these foods can be a good start to prevent a migraine attack, it doesn’t look at the potential of food as medicine.
The concept of food as medicine – particularly when combined with individualised medicine – looks at the possibility of a tailored or special diet to promote health or reduce illness. In addition to the overall diet, you can look at foods with medicinal properties from nutrients and plant compounds.
In my experience as a naturopath with a special interest in migraine (as well as being a migraineur myself), there is no single diet which works best for all people with migraine. But there sure are a few key nutritional programs with which my clients have had great success.
Generally, through taking an extensive case history and sometimes testing, I work with the client to find the right diet the first time.
The most successful diets include:
Additionally, we look at adding medicinal foods into your diet – such as ginger for its potent anti-inflammatory properties.
Sometimes, we also consider food intolerance testing to find out if there are any foods particular to you which are driving inflammation in your body.
The best thing about these diets, is that they increase your tolerance to foods which previously may have been a trigger for you. So, providing you follow your diet most of the time, then you can occasionally have the glass of champagne or piece of chocolate without causing a migraine attack.
If you are keen to explore how diet may reduce the number of migraine attacks for you in the future (and hey, who doesn’t want that?!) then feel free to reach out to me for a chat to see how I can help.
Keep on smiling migraine warriors x
My son turned 5 years old not too long ago. We had LOTS of party balloons left over from his birthday party. A couple of days later, something strange happened.
The balloons started to randomly burst. Not just one or two, but at least five balloons popped in ten minutes.
After calming my shattered nerves, I started to investigate.
Looking out the window, I found the answer. A storm was coming in, pressure in the air had changed, and now balloons were popping all over the place.
For migraineurs, our heads can be a bit like those balloons at times, with many linking a change in weather to a migraine.
The answer is that we are not quite sure. In fact, researchers, clinicians and scientists are still working to completely understand how and why migraines develop during a change in weather or storms.
One theory is that weather changes can cause changes in our brain chemicals – such as serotonin.
Another theory is that changes in atmospheric pressure can cause a pressure difference between the sinus cavities, the structures and chambers on the inner ear, and the world outside.
This variation in pressure between inside the head, and outside the head, may also cause blood vessels to dilate resulting in abnormal blood flow to the brain.
There is also some research to show that magnetic field changes can activate the trigeminal brainstem complex (part of the nervous system which is linked to some migraines). Could changes in force fields which occur during electrical and thunderstorm activity be a trigger for migraines?
So far, studies in to how the weather affects migraine show varying results. Some pieces of research are inconclusive, while others do seem to show that weather can be a migraine trigger. Migraines are difficult to research as there are so many individual factors and triggers which can influence whether you get a migraine.
Many migraineurs have linked weather changes to their own migraines. So it is worthwhile considering if this could be a factor for you.
If you don’t already, it can be super helpful to keep a “migraine diary” to help track whether the weather seems to be a trigger for you. Online migraine apps – such as Migraine Buddy - can also make it easy to record migraines, and even alert you to atmospheric pressure changes.
Try monitoring the weather, and if a change is on the way, then it might be worthwhile stepping up your migraine prevention strategies.
As always, if migraines are a problem for you, and you would like help to create your own migraine prevention plan, do feel free to book in for an appointment. I’d love to help.
PS – Oh, and I did feel a migraine come on when that storm arrived! An afternoon of rest and following my “oh no, I think I have a migraine coming” health plan and I felt fine the next day.
When it comes to managing migraines, it can be tempting to focus on avoiding just one trigger. We also have a tendency to pin all our hopes on that one thing which will keep us migraine free – such as a new medication or one single diet.
The reality is that reducing migraines is about finding the balance between avoiding a whole heap of triggers, while working on incorporating as many strategies as we can to manage migraines. And, the triggers and treatments are unique to each migraine sufferer.
In Dr Josh Turknett’s book, The Migraine Miracle, the analogy of balloons and weights are used to describe the balance we need to aim for to reduce migraines.
Imagine that you are in a basket, to which you can attach balloons to lift up into the air. When in the air, you have a “safe zone” to float about in – but if you elevate too high past your safe threshold, then you will come into migraine territory.
The balloons are your triggers. Some are big balloons, and some are smaller. You can attach a certain number of balloons and still stay in the safe zone. But add one balloon too many, and you will fly up past the threshold and – bam! You have a migraine.
You also have weights to attach to your basket to keep you within the safe zone. Yep – you guessed it - the weights are the strategies you use to manage your migraine – such as diet, medications, supplements and lifestyle.
For example, here are my balloons:
• Change in weather
• Irregular sleep
• Irregular blood sugar levels
• Caffeine and alcohol
• Heavy exercise
• Exposure to chemicals including scents
I can experience a few of these things, and still be OK. But add in one too many, and sure enough, I’ll develop a migraine about 4pm that day.
The weights I use to help keep me safe are:
• Supplements or medication
• Herbal medicine to manage stress, keep liver healthy and balance hormones
• Regular sleep
• Nutrition and diet
• Avoiding caffeine and alcohol
• Gentle exercise and movement every day
• Stress management techniques
• Using natural products
• Modified lighting
• I’m afraid I can’t change the weather, but managing all the other factors can mean barometric pressure changes don’t affect me as much as they once did.
Over time, the balloons and weights can change. For example changes in hormonal profile, digestive health, work situation and so many other factors can influence how we need to manage migraines.
A good place to start to manage your own migraines is to write down all your balloons and weights. Check in each day whether you are still in the safe threshold and whether you might need to check you have enough weights to keep you in the safe zone.
And if you would like some support to help you work out the cause/s of your migraines, or come up with treatment strategies, why not book in for an online consultation and we can figure it out together.