Migraine has just recently been listed as one of the most disabling lifetime conditions by WHO. It can have a severely negative influence on the quality of your life. I myself know quite a few people, who suffer from migraines, and have experienced how the condition renders them unable to work or to do basically anything, but staying in bed in a dark room and wait for the migraine attack to pass.
The general opinion is that there is no cure for migraines, just symptom management. Question: if you can cure most types of cancer through nutrition, why not migraines?
My husband used to suffer from migraines for a few years as well. Since many years though he is symptom free and if ever he has an attack it happens for example in the crowded, noise and polluted city of Naples (fact!).
At the time I wasn’t this much into nutrition, yet, but recently through the complaints of a good friend, who visited me and wasn’t able to go out for a whole day during her holiday, my constant curiosity was alerted and I raised the question: can migraines be alleviated or even eliminated through the right nutrition?
Let’s look into that…..
First question is:
Why do some people suffer from migraines and others do not? Is it a question of inheritance and environment or lifestyle and nutrition?
Unfortunately, there is still no precise definition to what the causes of migraine are precisely. There are studies, which strongly suggest that migraine is a hereditary condition.
Also, a number of so-called triggers have been defined, who are responsible for migraine attacks. These include:
1.) Emotional triggers (stress, excitement, strong tension, depression etc)
2.) Physical triggers (hormonal changes, lack of sleep, constant tension in neck and shoulder area, fatigue)
3.) Environmental triggers (noises, flickering lights or screens, humid and heat, smells, smoking)
4.) Medicinal triggers (certain medicines, esp. Hormonal treatments and certain sleeping aids)
5.) Dietary triggers (I will get into that more deeply, pls read on)
Most probably it is not one of those triggers only, which will create that throbbing pain in your head, but a combination of triggers.
Generally though, the condition is associated with low serotonin levels, though. What’s that? Have a look:
There is still no explanation though, why certain persons suddenly experience a drop in serotonin levels, but further on in this article we will understand a bit more about it.
There are studies that brought evidence that certain foods can affect the severity and frequency of migraine attacks. Surely, through the right diet migraine symptoms can be managed, quality of life can be improved and possibly the whole thing can be just eliminated!
Probably you don’t want to always take strong medicines whenever you have a migraine attack. There are no clearly defined components in foods, which trigger migraines. But it definitely makes sense to reconsider your nutrition.
Dietary triggers are:
-heavy dieting (fasting)
-certain food additives
-caffeine and teein
Coming back to serotonin: our kind of lifestyle makes it hard for the little brainy neurotransmitter. Due to our non-natural lifestyle, our bodies do not produce enough tryptophan anymore, which is responsible for the production of serotonin. The steady production of serotonin is based in the end on a holistic, well-balanced diet. Meat, milk and coffee strongly inhibit its production for example. If we lack serotonin (as mentioned above), not only our physical, but also our mental condition changes. We become anxious, depressed, irritated….notice something? Here we are back at some of the most important triggers of migraine.
A positive attitude to life and the right amount of exercise help as well. I will get into the respective exercising in a separate post.
Our bodies got used to civilization, but they still work in the same way as in the Neanderthal era. The industrial food we are consuming as well as far too little physical work/exercise and a constant emotional tension (think about that!) do their contribution.
Following a strict diet can be restrictive and monotonous. I am not talking about that, but about a diet full of vital substances, vegetal and unheated food. Doesn’t sound boring, huh? The amount of protein needs to be adapted to the respective consumption. Find a list of proteins and other food with a high dose of tryptophan under this link:
Experiment with your diet! Everyone is different, so different ingredients can help. Symptoms might also worsen, so make more or other adjustments. It is a trial and error game. Try to enjoy it, play around with healthy food. The main goal – as in most healing diets – is to achieve a wholesome, well-balanced healthy meal plan.
Remember to eat balanced, not too gigantic, breakfast; your lunch should be your main meal and contain most of the carbohydrates you need, whereas the dinner should be kept light and easily digestible.
Omega 3 fatty acids, which are mainly available in fish and seafood can positively influence headache. Put them on your meal plan 2x / week. Start using high quality vegetal oils instead of butter, e.g. linseed oil, olive or walnut oil (always of course cold-pressed and extra virgin!).
Magnesium is essential for avoiding vessel cramps. It is relaxing and on top of the anti-migraine list. You will find it in wholegrain bread, wholegrain oats, avocados, bananas, cashews, rice and pulses.
Obviously Ayurveda has its very own approach to migraines. Coming up shortly under the tab „Ayurveda“.
I hope some of you, who suffer from migraine, got inspired and will start to work on liberating themselves from that unwelcome condition! Maybe you won’t be able to completely “eat the migraine away”, but you will experience a noticeable drop in severeness and frequency of the attacks!