Wednesday, March 24, 2010


i've read a book about migraines and i actually learned a few things!
the book was called "the everything health guide to migraines" by paula ford-martin and the most interesting part of the book was the headache-free diet.  it goes full-circle back to the blog i wrote the other day about food allergies. in it i had a link about how to figure out what you are allergic/sensitive to.  the first thing this chapter said to do was figure out your triggers.  it is the same method.  (along with careful label reading after you figure what they ALL are.)  and a side note here from my aunt - she and her daughters are doing the daniel diet (from the bible) for lent and she said that she's had NO migraines since she started it... so, it must be something in meat, sugars, breads, processing and preserving of foods that was giving her the migraines.  she's going to slowly add back to see what causes them (sort of a reverse elimination diet) - i think that is a great idea and am now considering the fast for  maybe a 14 or 21 day cycle to see if it helps me (of coarse, combined with much meditation and prayer - maybe i can figure out a few things)!

so, anyway, here are a few things from the book.  in HER words (consider this all quoted):

GLUTAMATE is an amino acid and is the natural form of MSG found in grapes, spinach, some aged cheeses, mushrooms, and tomatoes.

Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) - why it causes migraines:  MSG is created when protein is broken down and fermeted; particular bacteria excrete glutamic acid that is then filtered and added to salt to create the substance known as MSG.  MSG works by simulating the taste buds into making food seem more appealing. potential reasons for its triggering power include the fermentation inherent to the MSG making process, and the possiblility that MSG actually alters brain function by affecting the behavior of seratonin.

MSG can be found in most flavored potatio chips, corn chips, pretzels, salad dressings as well as prepared food (fast food, snacks, sauces, soups, chicken nugget breading, asian cuisine).

flavor enhancers that have similar properties to MSG and may act as triggers in the same way are:
BHA, BHT, Hydrolyzed vegetable protein HVP or hydrolyzed plant protein HPT, modified food starch, carageenan, and maltodextran

color additives can be a trigger and the book says that FD&C #5 (tartrazine dye) is one.  it can be found in soft drinks, candy, medication (both prescription and OTC) - and used to make other colors (orange, green, maroon, etc.) so be sure to ask the pharmacist about color additives if you are trying to exclude that one.

sugar and sweeteners:  when you eat sugar, your blood sugar rises.  migraineurs tend to be more sensitive than most changes in blood sugar, thus the rapid change may trigger a migraine.  it can be avoided by limiting intake of refined sugars. 

aspartame appears to lower  the levels of serotonin in the body which can trigger or worsen a headache. 

comfort foods:
chocolate contains phenyethylamine, a histamine, has been linked to migraine.  you can substitute carob (a legume) for chocolate: it has no caffeine.

meats and barbeque:  sodium nitrate, food preservative: cured meats, sausages, bacon, pepperoni, hot dogs, jerky, commercially dried fish:  all triggers. (we don't eat these things in my house.  well, except bacon. i do try to find the uncured kind when i buy it though.  they are all triggers for me.)  also consider that fried chicken from chain resturants are loaded with MSG (like the breading at chick-filet, as well as the breading at every fast food place where you get chicken nuggets if you are buying them for your child!)

soup:  check for MSG, even broth.
mac and cheese:  aged cheeses contain tyramine, an amino acid that is a potential migraine trigger.  aged cheese such as parmesan, pecorino romano, asiago, and hard cheddar tend to have the highest concentration of tyramine, so those shoudl be the first ones to eliminate from your diet.  it is possible to continue enjoying dishes such as macaroni and cheese but avoid using aged or moldy cheeses.

supermarket tips:"whole food diet" - whole wheat, brown rice, low fat dairy, frish fruits, veggies, and fish high in omega 3 FA, diet clear of fried foods and refined sugars.  shop on the perimiter of the store.
Dairy:  fresh milk, butter, cream - yogurt and sour cream are fermented and contain tyramine, as well as aged cheeses.
fruit and vegges:  some fruits contain naturally substances that can trigger an attack:  citrus fruits contain tyramine, bananas contain both histamine and tyramine, avacado and spinach also have histamine and tyramine.  dried or dehydrated fruits may contain sulfites, a trigger.  phenylethylamine foods included cheese, chocolate, citrus, cocoa, and red wine.  tyramine containing foods include aged cheese, beer and ale, fava beans, nuts, olives, pickles, red wine, salted or cured meat, sauerkraut, sour cream, soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, and yogurt.  histamine containing foods are aged cheese, beer  and ale, banana, citrus, eggplant, fish, pineapple, red wine, spinach, strawberry, tomato, and yeast.

i won't even get into alcohol or caffeine... we all know to avoid that!

so if you have time, check out that book from the library.  it was quite interesting. they even have it at the youngsville library - it is like one of the 101 they have on their shelves there.  that is the smallest. library. ever.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the information. Gosh, it's crazy how much stuff is in our food. I will be really thankful when we start harvesting from our garden this year. I'm telling Matthew to make it twice as big as last year.

    I WISH whole foods was closer!



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