Family Encyclopedia >> Health

Tips for migraines and nutrition

Do you, like me, belong to the group of people who now and then lie flat because of a migraine attack? Read on because today I'll give you tips for migraines and nutrition. After more than 22 years of migraine, I have been able to reduce my attacks from 2 – 3 per week to about 2 per month. And all this by adjusting my diet.

Migraines and nutrition

People who often suffer from migraines would do well to take a closer look at their diet and diet. Although it is certainly not possible to determine the cause of all migraines, there are so-called triggers, which can be found in food, among other things. What foods should you avoid if you have migraines? And are there any foods that can prevent or limit an attack? What is the best diet if you have migraines? Read on and discover my tips for migraines and nutrition.

What is migraine?

Migraines are characterized by severe, paralyzing headaches. This can be divided into two groups, namely:

  1. Migraine with aura in which an attack is announced by symptoms such as flashes of light in front of the eyes
  2. Migraine without aura, usually accompanied by vomiting, nausea and visual disturbances

This type of headache should not be confused with tension headaches, which can also lead to nausea. Cluster headaches also differ from 'normal' migraines and require a different approach. Do you want to know more about the different types of headaches? On, the different types of headaches are explained, including the associated symptoms.

Signals that indicate a migraine attack

Often a migraine patient knows when a migraine attack is coming. There are clear symptoms that predict an approaching attack. The signals are usually:

  • Extreme hunger or thirst
  • A feeling of exhaustion
  • Unexplained mood swings
  • Blind spot, flashes of light, zigzag patterns for the eyes (migraine with aura)
  • Intolerance to bright light

All this can last for a few minutes or even hours, after which the migraine attack starts with a severe, paralyzing headache, whether or not in combination with nausea and vomiting. I already know what time it is when I am indeed very thirsty and I often notice it in my neck/shoulders that feel very tense. Having an appetite for food that I normally don't really like or overeating are also warnings that an attack is coming.

What causes migraines?

Migraines are caused by various factors, but it is not always possible to determine what the real trigger is. So people who have migraines would do well to experiment to see what triggers migraines. Some of the things that cause migraines are:

  • Stress
  • Hormomen (particularly in women, just before the menustration starts)
  • Sleep deprivation or too much sleep
  • Weather conditions
  • Wrong posture (not an isolated trigger, but as part of the whole, can usually be felt in the shoulder – neck area)
  • Exercise (do not exert too much effort, build up slowly, pay attention to body position)
  • Foods and diet

Unfortunately, you can't work on all causes, but you can try to avoid things like stress. I also know from myself that an attack only starts after the stress, so when the tension is gone. As if you have to be extra alert all this time and as soon as the stressful situation is over, your body comes to a discharge. This then manifests itself in a migraine attack that you say to yourself.

If you are sleep deprived, you should make sure that you get enough sleep. The opposite, i.e. too much sleep, can be avoided by going to bed later or even better getting up earlier. Hormones are tricky, because you can't control them very well. Personally, I have found that using fresh ginger as a tea and using CBD oil on a regular basis in any case provides relief and can even prevent migraines.

Weather conditions are also difficult to deal with, but you can ensure that you avoid large temperature fluctuations. You do this, for example, by not sitting too much in the air conditioning in the summer and then going outside in full sun. In any case, the bright sun is not recommended. There are special glasses available on the market that migraine patients can wear in the summer. Unfortunately I have no experience with this. I do, however, like to wear dark sunglasses when the sun is too bright.

Foods that trigger migraines

As mentioned before, there are several foods that can trigger migraines. This includes well-known and lesser-known foods.

1. Alcohol

If you have a migraine, you should really just avoid alcohol.

2. Caffeine

This is twofold:too much caffeine can trigger a seizure. While people who have a migraine attack sometimes benefit from a paracetamol with caffeine or a cup of strong black coffee.

3. Chocolate

Chocolate contains serotonin, a substance that improves mood, but at the same time triggers migraines in some people.

4. Mono Sodium Glutamate (Vet-sin)

A versatile and commonly used substance intended to enhance the taste of food. Mainly used in Oriental cuisine, but also in bouillon tablets, instant soup, soy sauce, soup in a pot or can, stock from a pot, pasta products with flavors, fish fingers, marmite. Can be found in products with plant protein extract, with “natural flavouring” and with “seasoning”. Pre-fried chips and potato croquettes, croquettes and other snacks, meat products for sandwiches and pre-packaged meat products. Finally, also found in many products that say:“flavor enhancer” or “flavors added”, even if they are labeled as “natural”. In other cases this is stated under the following E numbers:E 621 to E 625

5. Cheese and Milk

Hard and aged cheeses in particular are real causes of headaches and migraines. Unfortunately, young and soft cheeses are also not always well tolerated by people who have migraines. Like cheese, milk can also be a possible cause.

6. Preserved meats

Due to the high content of nitrates in the meat, they can provoke an attack. Instead of canned sausages, preserved meats, bacon and ready meals, go to the butcher to buy fresh meat. This is because you are less likely to get an attack.

7. Salad dressings and dressings

This has mainly to do with the fact that it also contains the aforementioned E numbers. In combination with fat and preservatives, this can quickly lead to a headache attack.

8. Artificial sweeteners and dyes

Artificial sweeteners, including aspartame (E951) and certain dyes (also fall under various groups of E numbers) are also true triggers. Aspartame is not recommended at all, not just for people who suffer from migraines, as E951 is pure poison for the body.

The following E numbers are migraine-inducing by eliciting histamine:E102 Tetrazine, E104 Quinoline Yellow, E110 Orange Yellow S, E123 Amaranth, E124 Chochenille RedA, E127 Erythrosine, E131 Patent Blue V, E132 Indigo Carmine, E133 Brilliant Blue FCF, E151 Brilliant Black BN (aspirin), E210-213 Benzoates, E214-218 Parabens, E220-228 Sulfites, E249-250 Nitrites, E251-252 Nitrates, (uncommonly:E260-261 Acetates), E280-283 Propionates, E310-312 Gallates, E422 Glycerol , E539 Sodium Thiosulfate, E620-625 Glutamates, E906 Benzoin Gum, Methyl, Vanillin, Ethyl Vanillin.

9. Citrus fruits

Are of course necessary to get enough Vitamin C, but it is better to avoid it in large quantities.

10. Fatty foods

This includes things such as French fries and, for example, mayonnaise.

11. Some vegetables

Tomato and spinach are also triggers for some people that can provoke an attack. For tomatoes this has to do with the fact that they are related to the nightshade family.

Which foods can limit migraines?

Instead of treating migraines with all kinds of drugs, you can choose to use natural foods that prevent or mitigate an attack. Some foods that prevent/limit migraines:

  • Fatty fish such as mackerel and salmon
  • Ginger processed in dishes or freshly grated in boiling water as tea
  • Drink plenty of water (especially water)

Which diet is suitable?

Migraines can be associated with a sudden drop in blood sugar. You can limit these fluctuations by regularly eating small, light meals. Eat regularly, preferably around the same time every day. Don't skip meals, especially breakfast. Three main meals with two to three snacks are sufficient. Drink enough, because drinking too little makes you feel dehydrated and that triggers a headache. Preferably choose water and possibly (organic) unsweetened tea.

What else can you do in case of a migraine attack?

There are of course more things you can do, such as:

  • Take a washcloth and soak it with apple cider vinegar. Lie down, close your eyes and place this washcloth on your forehead
  • Knead loose shoulder muscles (have them massaged) and possibly rub them with ointment that warms the muscles, so that they relax
  • Use of feverfew (available in tablet form, but fresh is better)
  • Finally, there are various medicines for sale that help (paracethamol, ibuprofen and various painkillers)
  • Scientists have discovered that having sex during a migraine attack not only significantly reduces the pain, it can even cure an attack completely. Sex releases certain substances, which amplify even more when you have an orgasm, so that this can also be seen as a natural treatment for fighting migraines
  • Make a home remedy with essential oil

Gene discovered that may trigger migraine

In 2013, scientists discovered a gene that may trigger a migraine attack. The error in the gene 'casein kinase I delta' will need to be further investigated to find out how to treat it. Perhaps in some time it will be possible to cure migraines on the basis of this discovery.

New remedy for migraines summer 2018

For years, researchers have been trying to discover drugs that can limit the severity of an attack or reduce the number of migraine attacks. On November 30, 2017, the news came out that a new remedy for migraines has been discovered. According to British researcher Peter Goadsby, the results are promising. Significant improvements were seen in the frequency and severity of migraine attacks in two different test groups. Science is hopeful that the new migraine treatment will be available from summer 2018.

My own experience tips for migraines and nutrition

Unfortunately, I belong to the group of people who suffer from migraine since I was 12 years old. For years I just let every attack happen to me. The attacks were so bad that I completely passed out for several hours. This was quite dangerous when the kids were small. So it was important to get help as soon as possible, so that someone was at home to take care of the children.

The main cause of this is a concussion that I suffered during a school trip. However, I now also seem to benefit a lot from an adapted diet. I read information about migraines and nutrition in many books and finally decided to limit things like cheese and completely remove broth from the menu. Chocolate doesn't bother me much, because I don't eat much of it anyway (I'm not a fan of it). However, since I omitted the aforementioned and pay more attention to the different E numbers that are added to the foods, my migraine attacks have become significantly less.

Want to know more about living with migraines and the impact attacks have on a family? Then read my column:'Living with migraine'.

If, like me, you belong to the group of patients who suffer from migraine, then I hope you can find something useful with my tips for migraine and nutrition. Are you a family member, acquaintance or employer of someone who is regularly flat due to migraine? Keep in mind that an attack can have a lot of influence on daily functioning and try to understand this.

* featured image from Shutterstock