The current approach we have toward treating migraines in the general population can leave us with a number of potential side effects. And the real problem, along with other approaches toward different conditions, is that we are often treating the symptoms and not the true cause.
When it comes to migraines and what causes them, there are a number of places we need to look. Many people could be presenting with the same types of symptoms, but the treatment often looks different. We need to have the whole story; the underlying issues, the lifestyle, the diet, the environment – it all matters.
Although it can sound daunting, there are many similarities we see and common causes that people come across. They tend to be broken down into topics such as hormonal imbalances, chemical related triggers, gut dysfunction, magnesium deficiency, and a few more.
Hormonal Imbalances: Oral contraceptive pills, hormone replacement therapies, and even perimenopause which can be behind an increase in estrogen in the body and less progesterone to help lead to hormone related migraines.
Chemical Related Triggers: Diets high in aspartame, MSG, sulfates, and tyramine-containing foods can be behind migraines; especially when chronic fatigue and sluggishness are combining symptoms.
Gut Dysfunction: IBS, brain fog, overall fatigue, bloating, and even sinus congestion can be signs of dysfunction in the digestive system/gut microbiome. Food sensitivities to things like gluten can also be affecting a person’s headache or migraine symptoms.
Magnesium Deficiency: Muscle cramping, irritability, insomnia, twitching, headaches, and constipation can all be related to a lack of magnesium in the body.
And if we think about some similarities between all of these potential causes, we can see that diet plays a large role in all of them. So although there is a wide array of causes and specific things to look out for, some practices can help cover all of our bases.
A focus on whole foods, especially in an “eat the rainbow” type of way, is crucial as a first step in reduction of migraines. The less inflammation we introduce to the body, the less oxidative stress we will go through, and in turn less risk of migraines. Whole foods turn on all the right gene messages in our bodies, promoting a healthy metabolism and reducing insulin resistance.
The variety of these whole foods matter as well; the more we change up our fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes, the more bacteria and diversity that is being introduced to our current gut microbiome and bacteria. A practice of adding a new or different food consistently will slowly increase the strength of our gut! And as mentioned above, that is another area of importance for migraines (and so much else, honestly). Try throwing a new fruit or vegetable into your grocery cart each week, and seeing what you can do with it. It also helps me combat boredom I run into with meals and preparation sometimes.
So much more goes into the diet portion of helping reduce migraines; and even more can be involved in supplementation, exercise, stress management, and other lifestyle factors. It can be overwhelming, but it is not impossible.
I will go deeper into this concept in the upcoming blog posts, so keep an eye out! And if you have any specific questions, or would like to learn more in an individualized way, call the office to schedule a free nutrition consult call to see if nutrition guidance and programs would be a fit for you.