Migraines and Food Sensitivities

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Migraines suck! For those of your fortunate enough to have never experienced it, let me assure you – I rolled my eyes at sufferers, thinking, “it’s just a bad headache.” And then life gifted me with my own experience of one. #karmasabitch And it is like a headache on steroids, jacked up on bath salts, and tainted with food poisoning. The #migraine was utterly debilitating. Beyond the pain, each sufferer experiences unique symptoms. For me, I wanted to throw up, and my eyes wouldn’t stop burning and watering.

Thankfully I do not suffer from these often, but I know many who do. And they have to skip classes, call off work, or stay hidden in a dark, cool cave somewhere in isolation. The cost of medications accumulates year after year

There are some typically held food beliefs around migraine prevention, such as avoid tyramine (aged cheeses, pickles, canned soups), nitrates (cured meats), MSG (soy sauce, meat tenderizers, many Asian dishes), tannins and phenols (tea, apple skins, bananas), and sulfites (red wine) . Gluten is being looked for some now, as well (wheat bread, pasta, crackers, cereals; rye, barley, etc) People are encouraged to keep a food diary in an attempt to determine their triggers. But as reactions can be dose dependent (a small amount doesn’t trigger it, so you think it is “safe” but then a large dose triggers it), stackable (two seemingly “safe” foods can be consumed at the same time, and now trigger pain), and delayed (it can take up to 72 hours before the reaction occurs), you have to look at doses, stacking, and timing to try to determine what’s going on.

From the National Headache Foundation: “People with headache disease vary in their sensitivity to specific foods. Reactions to foods may take anywhere from ½ hour to 72 hours to develop, making them often very difficult to pinpoint. Everyone is unique..”

And still, sometimes all these general dietary tricks don’t help. So people add on lifestyle habits – meditate, get good sleep, drink enough water, don’t go through caffeine withdrawal, have a proper pillow and mattress, manage stress, see a massage therapist… again, this may help some people, but not everyone.

This can start get extremely exhausting, frustrating, and hopeless. Not to mention, expensive between days off, doctor bills, prescription drugs. So I am grateful that I have another avenue of relief I can offer my clients when these other attempts fail: food sensitivities personalized to their blood’s immune system reactions and inflammation response. This is the Mediator Release Test (MRT) combined with the LEAP protocol (the method of starting with safe foods, and how we challenge new foods), and lifestyle habits. And many LEAP clients have had great success reducing the frequency, duration, and severity of their migraines. Then we can dig even deeper into other possible root causes (nutrient deficiency, hormone imbalances, environmental triggers) with renewed energy and less pain.

Understanding my body’s triggers makes it easy to stay away from reactive foods. My headaches have been less frequent, and if I do get one, it only last a day. In the past, I was going 3-5 days with the same headache

Playfully Fierce Healing participant, R.S.

“Diet often plays an important role in migraine pathophysiology because 60% to 80% of the immune system is in the gut… When a susceptible individual eats a reactive food or chemical, the immune system releases mediators such as cytokines, leukotrienes, or prostaglandins, which in turn produce pathophysiologic effects such as clinical and subclinical inflammation, pain receptor activation, neurological and endocrine dysfunction, or edema. These effects are implicated in chronic inflammatory conditions such as migraines, irritable bowel syndrome, eczema, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, and rheumatoid arthritis, which is why these conditions are frequently comorbid.” [READ: certain foods trigger your immune system to go haywire, leading to many different types of symptoms, including pain!]

And that’s the key with the8-week Playfully Fierce Healing program: we not only look at your blood test to plan your personal elimination diet program based on foods that are tested as ACTUALLY safe, but also address lifestyle habits that may be perpetuating to the problem, and educate you in learning what may help prevent further problems in the future. Sustainable healing!

Quoted Sources:
Today’s Dietitian
National Headache Foundation

Published by Kate Cline, RD

Registered Dietitian with a focus on Gut Health, Inflammation, and Functional Nutrition. Personal Trainer with a focus on corrective exercise. Yoga teacher, traveler, empowerment coach.

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