A few days ago I watched a weekly children documentary on the theme of disease with my daugther. Every week it features a child with some type of health issue and they explain the cause and implications of the health issue they suffer from and follow the child and her family as they cope with it. The last show was about a girl suffering from migraine, actually her entire family suffered from migraine and jokingly they referred to themselves as ‘Family Headache’. It must be very tough to live with daily migraine attacks and I feel sorry for the kids having to deal with this.
Great children program, however, one thing made me annoyed. The entire family is on drug treatment and there was no mentioning of adjustments to their diet.
There’s plenty of scientific studies linking migraine to diet, the evidence is not conclusive, but strong enough to make diet adjustments the primary treatment to migraine. But it’s not. Why? Well, as with most things in this world a good start finding the answer is to understand the money flows. Drug treatment is big business. The pharmaceutical industry doesn’t profit if people eat well, actually they live on people abusing their bodies with a poor diet and sedentary life style. Next, look at the link between pharmaceuticals, funding of research and doctors.
Anyway, back to the link between migraine and diet.
When an average of ten common foods were avoided there was a dramatic fall in the number of headaches per month, 85% of patients becoming headache-free (source, §11).
Look at the map here of representing the rate of “death and burden of migraine” per 100,000 inhabitants, the more reddish is higher rate, more towards yellow is lower rate. What’s your first thought? Mine is: “It is plausible that migraine is related to Western diet and lifestyle.” Some will say, “Western Europe is better than the rest of the worl in collecting statistics on migraine rates.” . Fair enough.
Age-standardised disability-adjusted life year (DALY) rates from Migraine by country (per 100,000 inhabitants).
However, the foods that keep coming back as triggers in the research on migraine and diet are the common foods of the typical Western diet: bread (wheat), dairy (cheese in particular), citrus, beef, caffeine eggs, yeast (bread).
The commonest foods causing reactions were wheat (78%), orange (65%), eggs (45%), tea and coffee (40% each), chocolate and milk (37%) each), beef (35%), and corn, cane sugar, and yeast (33% each) (source, §11).
Moreover, one study establish a higher prevalence of migraine in people with metabolic syndrome (source). Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of lifestyle diseases and I write about it here.
Many studies show remarkable improvements in migraine rates after adjusting the diet. One study concludes:
Forty of those who tested positive (87%) improved after following an elimination diet for 4-6 weeks and were positive for at least one challenge test for the same types of foods which resulted in positive skin tests. Thirty-one children were cured following the elimination diet and 9 improved (source, §13).
As I said, the evidence is not conclusive and a literature review of dietary triggers of migraine from 2005 concludes that the available scientific studies were not rigorous enough to prove or disprove any particular triggers (source).
Nevertheless, I argue that food is our most powerful drug and that pharmaceutical drugs should be the very last resort after extensive testing of dietary adjustments.
To eat clean I am 90% on a paleo diet, the remaining 10% are the moments when my character fails and I allow myself the standard Western diet. With one exception, I have completely banned fluid milk products from my diet. Milk is poison. But that’s for a later post.
Actually, a second thing about the TV program made me annoyed, the brain washing of kids. The program is teaching their young viewers that drugs is the primary treatment to various health issues. Diet and lifestyle is rarely (ever?) mentioned.
eat clean, inflammation, migraine, omega-3, paleo, paleo diet
[...] To eat clean is also to allow food to heal you from the inside. The latest article from reintegrate.net talk about the scientific link between diet and migraine. Read more over at reintegrate! [...]
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