The Connection Between Migraines and Diet

Millions of people across the world experience migraines. According to The Migraine Trust (migrainetrust.org), migraine is the third most common disease in the world behind tooth decay and tension-type headaches.

A migraine is a common condition which can last up to three days. Common symptoms include painful, throbbing headaches and pain only one side of the head.

Can food trigger a migraine?

Migraine sufferers often notice that missing meals can trigger a headache. Long periods of time between meals may even trigger migraine attacks. This can be caused by low blood glucose levels. The risk of developing a headache increases with the amount of time between meals.

Migraine sufferers should make time for small frequent meals. By keeping to regular daily meal times, regular sleep patterns and frequently exercising can result in less frequent migraines.

Migraine triggers

Common migraine triggers include alcohol, chocolate, cheese, yeast, artificial sweeteners and monosodium glutamate (MSG). Key things to remember about migraine food triggers are:

  • If you’re not sleeping well and not exercising, eating a food trigger may make it more likely to have a migraine attack
  • Not all foods will trigger a migraine attack in every person with migraine. Your personal food triggers can be difficult to figure out
  • Some foods can trigger a headache right away, while with other foods the headache can be delayed up to 24 hours.

To find out if certain foods can cause migraines, a food intolerance test is a simple finger prick blood test that can analyse your blood sample for any reactions. This testing gives you a head start in terms of what foods you should be looking to eliminate from your diet.

A food intolerance* test can highlight a person’s trigger foods without the need for eliminating individual foods one by one and can form the basis of a fast-track elimination diet. The potential that food intolerance* testing offers migraine sufferers has been demonstrated in several studies.

A survey of a 1,000 people suffering with migraine by the charity Migraine Action revealed that over two thirds of Migraine Action members affected by frequent migraine attacks believe that certain foods could be the cause. 

The Migraine Action survey found that 85 percent of people affected by debilitating migraines had their symptoms reduced, and quality of life improved, once their food triggers were discovered and avoided.

* YorkTest define food intolerance as a food-specific IgG antibody reaction. Our information is intended to provide nutritional advice for dietary optimisation. YorkTest do not claim to treat or cure your symptoms and recommend that you discuss any medical concerns you may have with a GP before taking one of our tests.

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