Before getting to today’s post. If you haven’t read these articles I wrote, make sure you read them before reading this post!
- Why I Don’t Recommend Elimination Diets (Like AIP, or other elimination diets.)
- What Is Inflammation? (as it relates to chronic disease)
- Food Sensitivity Test Options (a review of the different food sensitivity tests out there)
- What to do AFTER food sensitivity testing (if you already got a food sensitivity test done)
What Causes Migraines?
If you have had problems with migraines (or even frequent headaches for that matter) in the last few years or your whole life, you are probably no stranger to the list of things that may trigger them including:
- Hormonal Changes in Women
- Food Additives
- Strong Smells
- Changes in Sleeping Habits
- Changes in Environment
- Changes in Medications
If left untreated the condition can leave you in debilitating pain for up to 72 hours, that’s FOUR FREAKING DAYS!
I never knew anyone who got migraines until I met my husband. I remember the first time I witnessed him having one when we were just dating, back in college. From an outsiders perspective, and as a 21-year-old, I couldn’t understand why he couldn’t just take an Aleve and move on? For two days he laid in bed, he wouldn’t eat or really talk he just laid there with a cold cloth on his head in a pitch black room. He later told me that he had tried the medication, but it made his stomach so upset he couldn’t deal with it. So he just dealt with the episodes as they came.
The Migraine – IBS Connection
According to a Polish study published in 2005, “The association between a migraine and functional gastrointestinal disorders has been confirmed by many clinical observations and epidemiological studies. In most patients during the attacks of migraine, apart from various neurological and vascular symptoms, gastrointestinal disturbances occur including nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain or diarrhea. Functional gastrointestinal disorders, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), are reported in migraine patients in periods between the attacks as well. On the other hand 23-53% of IBS patients have frequent headaches. Migraine and IBS often coexist with fibromyalgia and other chronic pain syndromes and functional disorders.”
There are a number of theories out there regarding why this gut-brain connection is so strong, some think it relates to the serotonin pathways. Although, many of my clients state they haven’t felt relief from addressing those pathways with medication. Other medical professionals believe that there is the genetic component, predisposing one group to the other condition.
In any case, both groups of sufferers, migraine, and IBS patients recognize that food is a trigger for their symptoms but have a really hard time figuring out which foods. In both migraine patients and IBS patients, higher levels of certain cell mediators are found in the blood than normal healthy patients. I explain this in detail in the IBS & Food Sensitivity posts I wrote.
It wasn’t until AFTER Mr. Hungry’s first food sensitivity test, where his IBS symptoms improved 85-90% that we realized he hadn’t had a migraine in months. In fact, in the last four years, I think he has had one migraine ever. He still gets an occasional headache, but nowhere as frequent as he did prior to 2014.
Foods that Trigger Headaches & Migraines
There is a LONG list of foods that potentially trigger headaches and migraines. (Similar to the long list you find given to IBS patients.)
- Aged Cheeses
- Food Additives
- Cold Foods
- Artificial Sweeteners
- High Tyramine Foods
Attempting to remove all these foods is first of all, extremely challenging. Secondly, it might be ineffective. If so much inflammation is built up in your system it’s likely these are the only foods that are causing your head to throb. Furthermore, if there is an IBS – Migraine connection, then foods that trigger IBS could be causing your migraines (aka foods outside of this list.) Furthermore, like all conditions, I find that the foods that cause symptoms are highly individualized. No one list is gonna do it.
When I Recommend Food Sensitivity Testing for Migraine Patients:
Typically I recommend a client does the following before considering a food sensitivity test:
- Ensure they are getting 8-9 hours of sleep a night.
- Ensure they are exercising regularly and that their exercise is appropriate.
- Ensure they are drinking plenty of water, at least half their body weight in fluid ounces of water
- Track their headaches to see if they are hormone related. If so, we work on hormone balancing FIRST.
- Clean up their diet. If you are eating fast food on a regular basis I prefer that you switch to a cleaner diet before spending money on a food sensitivity test.
- Clean diet = limited processed foods, fast foods, etc. Mostly whole foods limited eating out.
If a client has done the above, I will recommend a food sensitivity test, especially in the presence of IBS but even without it. IBS patients and Migraine patients are the two groups of patients that seem to benefit the most (they have the most immediately pronounced effects) from following the LEAP diet.
I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again though. It isn’t just getting a food sensitivity test that will be the magic cure. You must follow the appropriate protocol and work with a qualified professional after your food sensitivity test if you genuinely want to resolve your symptoms. As an RD I understand the limitations of the test, but I use it as a tool to give us a better starting ground. We then work from there to bring down your symptoms, promote healing, and get a better understanding of your triggers. I don’t claim 100% remission, but you can get close and regain a great deal of quality of life.
I take all my clients through the consultation process to make sure they are 100% a good candidate for the test. You can schedule your consult here. The fee is $25 dollars which will be applied to the test package should we decide you are a good candidate and will benefit from it.