Migraine and the Ketogenic Diet

Oncoming Migraine
Oncoming Migraine

A migraine is so much more than your every day headache. A migraine is a physiological reaction in your brain than results in the constriction, usually in waves, of the blood vessels of the blood brain barrier, after a period of time, these blood vessels then dilate, then over dilate to compensate for this restricted blood flow. In people with chronic migraines you will actually find a deterioration of the blood brain barrier, decreased mental functioning, these people may report ‘brain fog’, so difficulty concentrating, carrying a mental load and remembering large portions of their lives that have been effected by chronic episodes.

A migraine headache can last for 4 hours, but can last days, and some unfortunate people can have very few days of the week that aren’t affected. Symptoms include:
  • head ache
  • pain that progresses through the cranial nerves, so essentially a headache in your teeth or sinus’
  • light and sound sensitivity
  • nausea and vomiting
  • loss of coordination and balance
  • decreased mental faculties

Migraine Triggers

Pin pointing an individual’s triggers can be incredibly difficult. Sometimes they’re environmental, in which case diet may be an effect adjunct. Sometimes your trigger may be physiological, in which case your doctor or neurologist may be able to provide you with an effective medication.

In terms of food triggers, the ketogenic diet can be incredibly effective because it essentially, if you partake in the ‘clean’ or ‘strict’ version, removes pretty much all the common triggers from your diet. But a common list is as follows:
  • Tyramine (found in cacao)
  • Nitrates (found in preserved meats)
  • Sulphites (found in dried fruits)
  • MSG
  • Yeast
  • Aged cheese
  • Citrus fruit
  • Alcohol
  • Artificial Sweetener, particularly aspartame.

Migraines and Gluten

Gluten is being mentioned separately as some neurological research is starting to investigate celiac disease and even non-celiac gluten sensitivity’s impact from the gastointestinal tract, and how ingestion is affecting the brain. In MRIs people with chronic migraine and people with celiac disease have very similar plaque deposits in their grey matter. This is about as good health news as it sounds (this guy’s website sounds really wank, but the research is sound).
Gluten is classically considered to be an inflammatory food, it’s one of the few foods that can cause systemic inflammation of the blood brain barrier. Anthropologically, humans as a species have only been eating wheat for about 1000 generations and it’s only since been the industrial revolution that we’ve been eating it free from the wheat germ. Wheat is incredibly difficult to digest. It is also incredibly difficult to produce as we were doing it historically, so now we are eating it more than ever before and our bodies are simply not able to cope.
A lot of people have improved outcomes when they remove gluten, however it does take about 10 days for all the proteins to leave the body, the same if you were eliminating dairy.

Migraine Prevention Foods

Generally the best foods to be eating for prevention include those that are high in vitamin B2, which has shown to have some clinical efficacy in prevention.
  • Mushrooms
  • Spinach
  • Almonds
  • Avocados
  • Asparagus
Phases of a Migraine
Phases of a Migraine

Migraine Diet Supplements

For best outcomes, you should be treating yourself as if you have an inflammatory disease, because that’s essentially what the migraine is. A standard regiment is:
  • 6000mg fish oil
  • vitamin D supplement
  • probiotic
  • magnesium citrate 300mg
  • vitamin b2

Keto as an Anti Inflammatory Diet

As I’ve mentioned in my autoimmune post, keto can be incredibly effective as an anti-inflammatory diet, however you do have to modify it. You do have to engage in a nutritional ketogenic style, as a medical ketogenic style will strip out your intestinal epithelial cells as worsen your outcomes over time.
Food is not better than being horrendously sick, do the absolute best that you can for you and live your life to the full, because there is no flavour so great on the tongue that’s worth suffering disease for.