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Gluten Free Diet For Migraines

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Gluten Free Diet For Migraine Sufferers

Migraine Headaches Resolved with Gluten Free Diet

Has anyone any information on having a gluten free diet if you suffer from migraines. I have heard it can reduce them???

0 likes, 5 replies

  • 5 years ago

    Hi Nicky

    I’ve been on a gluten,dairy free diet for 9 months now,after suffering with almost weekly migraines for 8 years. My migraines have become so much less and there are months when I don’t even get any.

    This was a last resort for me after trying everything. It was tough to give up certain foods at first,but I’ll rather do that,than have migraines.

    A Naturopath helped me adjust my diet and recommended a detox etc.to start with and after that a healthy elimination eating plan.

    It’s worth a try. Hope this helps

  • Posted 5 years ago

    Thank you for the help and advice. I think it is definitely something I need to consider now.

  • Posted 5 years ago

    hi. I was told to give up eggs after doing an allergy test because of regular migraines. Migraines went away because at the same time I checked for every food for egg and so a lot of breads, pastries etc. went aswell. So, the gluten link? I became a bit lax with the egg watching and started to eat certain things again, the migraine came back. So it could be either. I love eggs but rather not eat them then have migraine. So now I am back to watching again and the breads etc., are out now again.

A History Of Migraines

I have been getting migraines since I was in high school. Headaches are part of my everyday life, with migraine days varying from a couple of days a month to 10 or more. Its been a battle, and while many people take strong meds, I havent had much luck with prescriptions and the ones that do help always make me tired , so Ive opted with just dealing and taking over the counter medicine.

When I was approached about this book, I was interested. I know certain things trigger migraines for me when I eat too much of them. Some of these include dark chocolate, parmesan cheese, and anything with MSG, but I had never heard of a diet that was so comprehensive.

The Migraine Relief Plan Book Cover- Recipe photography copyright 2016 by Laura Bashar

Migraines Are More Frequent With Celiac Disease

A recent meta-analysis looked at 40 scientific studies published since 1987 that discussed the connection between headaches and celiac disease. From the data, they determined that the prevalence of headache among those with celiac disease was 26% for adults and 18.3% for children. However, the prevalence of migraines among the general population including both adults and children is only 12%. Thus, these numbers suggest that migraines affect those with celiac disease more frequently than those without.

In this study, researchers found that those with celiac disease were 4 times more likely to experience migraine headaches than a control group. And while migraines didnt last as long as the control group, they occurred 2.5 times more frequently than those without celiac disease. When put on a gluten-free diet, migraines disappeared in 25% of the celiac patients. And 38% experienced a reduction in severity and frequency of their headaches.

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What Is A Migraine

Some people experience a regular headache and assume they have a migraine. A migraine is a bit different and more intense. A migraine can come on slowly or abruptly, and it can become disabling. The pain can last for several hours or even days. Between the intense throbbing in the head, nausea and vomiting, and sensitivity to sound and light, its no wonder many people have to climb under their blankets in the dark to try and get some sort of relief from their pain. Some people describe the feeling of a migraine similar to having the flu.

The cause of migraines is not known, but according to experts, it could be related to the trigeminal nerve system, or nerves in your face, along with a chemical imbalance in the brain.

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People with gluten intolerance or more extreme, Celiac disease, have trouble digesting gluten containing foods such as:

Wheat

Rye

Oats

According to Dr. Rizzoli, et al authors of the The Migraine Solution, Gluten can also be found in: medicines, vitamins, and even the glue on stamps and envelopes. When those with the disease eat foods with gluten, their immune system responds by causing damage to the small intestine.

Symptoms vary, but scientists are beginning to think it may cause headaches that can mimic migraines, or aggravate migraines in those who already have them. For example, one Italian study that followed 90 migraine sufferers determined that four had Celiac disease and had those subjects follow a gluten-free diet for six months.

During this time, one of the four patients had no migraine attacks, and the remaining three patients experienced an improvement in frequency, duration and intensity of migraines .

Migraines can be triggered from gluten intolerance or gluten sensitivity without the full blown immunological response or intestinal changes of Celiac disease. If you notice your migraines being triggered by any food that has gluten in it, it would be worth getting the blood test to see if you have Celiac disease .

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Coeliac Disease And Gluten Sensitivity

Coeliac disease is a serious condition where a persons immune system reacts when they eat gluten and causes damage to the lining of their gut. When this happens, they have symptoms such as diarrhoea, bloating, vomiting and stomach cramps. There can also be serious complications if it is not treated, such as anaemia. There is no cure for coeliac disease and people with it need to avoid gluten all their life.

There have been studies into the link between coeliac disease and migraine. There is no evidence to suggest that coeliac disease causes migraine. It is thought that if people with coeliac disease and migraine follow a gluten-free diet, this may help with both of their conditions.

Gluten sensitivity is when a person has a bad reaction if they eat gluten. They may have similar symptoms to coeliac disease, but there is no damage to the lining of their gut or the risk of serious complications that can happen with coeliac disease.

Gluten is found in foods that contain wheat, barley or rye. These include pasta, bread, cakes, some sauces and most ready meals.

One of the symptoms of gluten sensitivity is headache. But there is no evidence that gluten sensitivity causes migraine. However, if you are sensitive to gluten, you may find that if you eat food containing gluten, it makes migraine attacks more likely or the symptoms more painful.

Can Gluten Contribute To Migraines And Headaches

Yes.

But is gluten the primary target? A little yes and a little no.

If you want to stop a food sensitivity that was found to affect 78% of migraine sufferers in this study then taking out wheat is a necessity.

But if you have a leaky gut, your immune system is being sensitized to foods, and they are getting through your blood-brain barrier

Then you need more tools in your arsenal.

This is why I created the food triggers guide.

But aside from wheat, there are many more foods that can be sensitive.

You also want to heal the gut and restore balance to intestinal bacteria.

If you have an overgrowth of bacteria or a parasite infection which studies have shown upwards of 80-90% of first world people have then removing at least wheat while you heal is a necessity.

And if you want to fix leaky brain then see our articles here and here.

So now begs the question

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Finding What Works Right For You

The various diets discussed above all have one principle in mind, eliminating certain foods from your diet that can cause headaches and migraines. Many of the foods that are mentioned in the diets above that are to be avoided contain Tyramine. This is the substance produced when the amino acid tyrosine breaks down and can cause headaches.

Not only will the right diet help you mitigate the frequency and severity of headaches and migraines, but a proper diet can also help avoid certain types of chronic health conditions. Good diet is only part of the formula that will help you reduce headaches and migraines in your daily life. Your physician will also counsel you on good diet and exercise practices to help you with your headache and migraines.

In summary, the answer to which diet is the best migraine diet is there isnt one. Finding dietary influences on migraine and headache will vary widely between patients and what their migraine may be susceptible to or what it responds to. However, if there are clues to when you get migraines in relation to any of the dietary factors discussed above when you eat meals, it may be worth trying that particular diet or dietary modification for at least 4 weeks. Any dietary changes should always be discussed and approved of with your regular medical doctor first though, to make sure it is safe to try depending on your particular medical history.

FIRST, LETS DECIDE WHERE TO START:

Nutrient Deficiencies And Migraines

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Many studies have shown that an increase in homocysteine levels along with lower mitochondrial energy, aka cellular fuel needed to make energy, can lead to migraine headaches.6 A deficiency in specific vitamins and minerals can cause elevated homocysteine and decreased energy metabolism levels. Vitamins involved in this process are Riboflavin , Pyroxidine , Folate , and Cobalamin . Other nutrients that may be deficient with migraine sufferers are vitamin C, vitamin E, calcium, Co Q10, magnesium, and iron.

Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant, which has shown to help with the effects of nerve inflammation and migraines.

Vitamin E, which works in concert with Vitamin C can effectively relieve headache pain and migraine symptoms.

CoQ10 is another powerful antioxidant that helps with energy production and heart health. We have seen that Vitamin B2 can affect increase homocysteine levels if deficient, thus leading to decreased cellular energy. CoQ10 has been shown to support cellular energy levels, and when it is deficient, the nervous system may become hypersensitive, leading to migraine pain.

When taken on a regular basis, many headache medicines can cause deficiencies of nutrients like vitamin C, CoQ10, folic acid, and potassium. Long term medication use for the treatment of chronic headaches is rarely necessary if a thorough nutritional deficiencies evaluation is performed.

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Why Is Gluten A Problem Now

Lets face it. We are a very different culture now then we were 100 years ago

Even 50 years ago.

Let alone 1000 or 10000 years ago.

But our genes dont change very quickly so they cannot be blamed for the massive changes that have happened in the last 20-50 years

What is contributing to the massive changes that have created the gluten free diet craze?

3 pieces.

But before I go into these 3 pieces we need to understand leaky gut.

Migraine And The Blood

Recent evidence shows us that there are certain situations in which that wall becomes leaky. One such situation? Migraine.

Migraine is a many-armed beast, as you may know, meaning theres a cornucopia of physiological changes occurring when the beast comes to town.

One of those arms involves whats known as neurovascular inflammation. Nerves at the base of the brain that are activated during a migraine send a signal to the blood vessels they connect with to release inflammatory substances. The resulting inflammation then triggers breakdown inthe blood brain barrier. 4

And a leaky blood brain barrier means stuff can get inside the brain that shouldnt be there.

IMPORTANT OBSERVATION #6

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Migraines And Celiac Disease

Researchers have studied the connection between migraine headaches and gluten free diet. Evidence shows a significant link. A 2001 study published in the journal, Neurology , found going gluten free brought migraine relief to 9 out of 10 patients. While this was a small study, the evidence is compelling.

A 2003 study in the American Journal of Gastroenterology confirmed these findings with a change in their approach. The researchers tested migraine sufferers for celiac disease using the gliadin IgA and IgG test. The study found a significant portion of migraine sufferers also had celiac disease, suggesting a positive link between the two conditions. In these cases, gluten may be the trigger of migraine headaches.

Follow An Elimination Diet

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Doctors dont have tests to diagnose gluten sensitivity. If you test negative for celiac disease, your doctor may recommend an elimination diet. During an elimination diet, youll remove possible allergens from your diet and then slowly add them back in, noting if and when your symptoms return. This can help determine whats triggering the migraine.

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Keep A Migraine Journal

Your doctor may also recommend keeping a food and migraine journal. In your journal, youll keep track of everything you eat and when you get a migraine. That will allow you to notice trends. For example, if you often get a migraine the day after drinking red wine, red wine may be a trigger. A journal can help you see if gluten might be causing your migraines.

Get Tested For Celiac Disease

See your doctor if youre wondering if your migraines could be related to gluten. Your doctor may perform a blood test or endoscopy to test you for celiac disease. A blood test will indicate whether you have a higher level of antibodies, which happens when you have a compromised immune system. Gluten may be the cause of this response. An endoscopy allows your doctor to look at your small intestine and check for any damage. Damage could be a sign of celiac disease.

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What Is The Connection Between Gluten And Migraines

According to the journal Headache, individuals with celiac disease, non-celiac gluten sensitivity and inflammatory bowel disease have an increase in migraine headaches compared to people without those conditions.

The details of a study in this journal showed that 500 of the individuals who met the exclusion criteria went under analysis. There were 188 individuals with celiac disease, 25 with gluten sensitivity, 111 people with irritable bowel disease and 178 controls. Chronic headaches were reported by 14 percent of the control group, 23 percent of those with irritable bowel disease, 56 percent with gluten sensitivity, and 30 percent of those with celiac. The subject groups each had a significantly higher rate of migraines than the control groups.

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