Can Cutting Carbs Cure Migraine Misery?
How does it happen?
In severe cases, migraines can interfere with daily activities and may require hospitalization. Migraines are thought to be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
Why do sugar and carbs cause headaches?
There are some pieces of evidence to suggest that cutting carbs - may be effective in reducing the frequency and severity of migraines.
What is the Ketogenic diet?
Should you try Ketogenic diet to help reduce migraine?
It is true to say that many conventional medical doctors and practitioners are not keen on the ketogenic diet - In fact they often suggest having smaller, more frequent meals. However, there are many commentators and experts who disagree and suggest that ketogenic diets are very helpful for not only migraines but other neurological conditions like epilepsy and Parkinson's Disease.
If you are struggling with your migraine headaches it may be worth examining the pros and cons of undertaking a ketogenic regime in order to try it out. It should be noted that most practitioners note that on ketogenic diets there are a few days of changing difficulty when beginning them because the body is not used to the massive change in the type of nutrition. This is often called “keto flu”. However, anecdotally supplements like glutamine can be taken to reduce any such side effects and the reader is advised to look at forums and other places to see whether the ketogenic diet can be helpful in your migraine therapy.
Along with some nutritional approaches, for example, taking riboflavin 400 mg has been shown scientifically to help reduce migraine frequency.
Different type of Ketogenic diet
There are several versions of the Ketogenic diet, including:
Standard ketogenic diet
Cyclical ketogenic diet
Targeted ketogenic diet
High protein ketogenic diet
However, only the standard and high protein ketogenic diets have been studied extensively. Cyclical or targeted ketogenic diets are more advanced methods and primarily used by bodybuilders or athletes.
The information in this article mostly applies to the standard ketogenic diet (SKD), although many of the same principles also apply to the other versions.
Ketones may prevent migraine attacks
Ketone bodies provide your brain and body with more energy than glucose—which means the brain and the muscles are working more efficiently. People with migraines often experience energy shortage, that’s why ketones are very important for them.
We also know that migraine headaches are associated with inflammation. Based on studies, applying a ketogenic diet has shown anti-inflammatory effects on the body.
What are the risks associated with a Ketogenic diet for migraines?
Many health care researchers and organisations have recognized the risk of ketogenic diet. It could cause kidney stones, low blood pressure, nutrients deficiencies, increased risk of heart disease, and constipation. Studies also showed that strict diets like keto can result in eating disorders or social isolation.
It is important to note that a ketogenic diet is not recommended for people with conditions involving their liver, pancreas, gallbladder, or thyroid.
Ketogenic diet is highly recommended to be done under the supervision of your healthcare specialist to prevent nutritional deficiencies.
Pfeiffer, A.F., Zeng, L., Thompson, J. et al. A low-carbohydrate diet is effective for the management of migraines. J Headache Pain 12, 85 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10194-011-0345-7
Paoli, A., Rubini, A., Volek, J.S., Grimaldi, K.A. Beyond weight loss: a review of the therapeutic uses of very-low-carbohydrate (ketogenic) diets. Eur J Clin Nutr 67, 789-796 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1038/ejcn.2013.116
Liu, Y., Liu, J., Tan, L. et al. Low-carbohydrate diet in the management of migraines. Nutrition 29, 1150-1153 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.nut.2012.09.013