Blog post, Food & drink

Can food intolerances cause migraines?

Frequent headaches and migraines can severely affect your quality of life. The symptoms are usually treated with pain medication, even if their cause is unknown. However, experts agree that migraine prevention is much more efficient and beneficial for patients and broadly speaking, for the economy. There is only one big problem: In many cases, the underlying causes for headaches and migraines are not understood and remain undetected.

Possible culprits

There are many possible underlying causes that can trigger headaches: stress, hormone levels, sleep patterns, and even weather conditions. Another factor that often comes into play but isn’t mentioned quite as frequently is food.

Statistics show that in industrialized nations, approximately 20% of the population suffer from some form of food intolerance. A food intolerance is detected by screening blood samples for IgG antibodies towards certain foods. Even though gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, bloating, stomachaches, and diarrhea are more commonly associated with food intolerances, they can also cause headaches, migraines, and irritability.

The link between migraines and food intolerance

Research has shown that patients who showed a heightened count of IgG antibodies towards certain foods experienced an alleviation of their migraine symptoms after avoiding these foods.

One half of the tested patients was put on an elimination diet based on their blood test results, in which all the foods they had IgG antibodies to got removed from their diet plan. The other half of tested patients was put on a so-called challenge diet, which contained the foods that would likely trigger symptoms according to the IgG test. Both groups were not told which diet they were put on to rule out the placebo effect.

This approach showed that patients who frequently suffered from migraines experienced a significant reduction of migraines in both frequency and intensity while they were on the elimination diet.

Preventing food-related migraines

What can you do if you suffer from unexplained headaches and migraines? If doctor’s visits and consultations haven’t been conclusive, looking into food intolerances might help to shed light on the matter.

Keeping a food journal as well as IgG-based food intolerance testing can be powerful tools to map possible causes for headaches and migraines. After figuring out potential trigger foods, trying an elimination diet under the guidance of a medical professional or nutritionist can be the next step towards a real diagnosis.
There is a possibility that removing certain foods from your diet plan can result in an alleviation of migraine symptoms – it’s worth a try.

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