Anyone who’s felt the agonising crush of a migraine will tell you how exhausting and debilitating an episode can be. Often causing nausea, dizziness and fatigue, the effects can linger for hours and sometimes days after a severe attack.
As we enter Migraine Awareness Week (first week of September), we’re looking at the impact food can have on our neurological health, and why, when it comes to our diets, staying clear of trigger foods can be a real headache.
Those who suffer regularly will be aware of the more common factors for migraine, such as stress, hormonal changes and sensory stimuli such as bright lights. But many of us are unaware of the link between diet and migraine.
Certain foods and drinks, such as dark chocolate, red wine and processed foods are more commonly thought to trigger migraine but what if after avoiding the more common culprits, you’re still suffering?
Finding the foods at fault
One of the key problems when it comes to diet and migraine is knowing exactly which foods you need to avoid.
An ingredient that causes problems for one person could be completely fine for another, which is why cutting out common ‘problem foods’ at random is rarely the best way to determine the cause.
It’s also common to experience reactions to more than one food. Whilst we often assume certain ingredients like gluten or dairy are more likely than others to cause problems, any ingredient in our diets could be a cause of negative effects. If you have multiple trigger foods, discovering them yourself by process of elimination takes a significant amount of time to find which food intolerance causes your migraines.
A delayed reaction
Because, unlike allergy, food intolerances can have a delayed reaction of up to 72 hours, we often place the blame on the wrong foods.
For example, we assume that the cheese we ate the night before is the cause of next morning’s upset stomach. We rarely assume it was actually the eggs we had for breakfast two days ago. With so many ingredients finding their way onto our plates in a typical week, it’s very difficult to pinpoint exactly what it is we’ve eaten to cause us to feel unwell.
The next time you suffer a migraine, think back over everything you’ve eaten during the previous 72 hours. It’s likely you’d have a hard time locating the cause amongst three days of meals and snacks.
Take the first step to feeling better
If you suffer with migraine it’s important to talk with a GP to rule out any serious health conditions. If you are still struggling to find the cause of your headaches, it might be time to consider taking a food intolerance test.
With around 9 million adults in the UK living with food intolerances, advice and support to help you remove and replace your trigger foods has never been better.
The simple home testing kit from Smartblood provides fast and accurate results, helping you pinpoint your problem foods. Discover the Smartblood test.