1. Balance blood sugar
Low blood sugar (aka hypoglycaemia) is one of the most overlooked causes of migraines. Eating too little, skipping meals, and/or prolonged periods of fasting are thought to be triggers for migraine headaches. Eating well-balanced meals and snacks throughout the day, with sufficient amounts of fibre, protein and fat is a key component to balancing blood sugar to reducing migraine frequency and severity.
2. Balance hormones
Have you heard of menstrual migraines? They occur on day 1 and/or day 2 of menstruation. In order to be classified as a menstrual migraine, they must occur in at least two out of three menstrual cycles.
A few days before menstruation begins, estrogen levels start to drop, and it is this drop in estrogen that brings on a migraine headache. Along with this fall in estrogen, comes the release of prostaglandins and inflammatory markers within the brain that contribute to the progression of a migraine.
It is important to note, however, that it is the "estrogen withdrawal" that brings on the headache, and not menstruation itself. You can support estrogen levels by consuming phytoestrogens at this time of your cycle, including pumpkin seeds and flaxseeds.
3. Balance your life (cliché, I know...)
Sleep disorders and stress are among the most common triggers for migraine headaches. Disordered sleep includes poor sleep quality, difficulty falling asleep, difficulty staying asleep, and sleep apnea.
Stress is thought to provoke biological modifications within the nervous system, lowering the pain threshold, and increasing susceptibility to migraine attacks.
Check out last month's newsletter for some of my favourite ways to reduce stress.
4. Avoid dietary triggers
Dietary triggers differ on an individual basis. Keeping a migraine diary can be very helpful in identifying dietary triggers. Common dietary triggers for migraines include:
MSG (monosodium glutamate)
Others: citrus fruits, nuts, ice cream, tomatoes, onions, dairy, coffee, nitrates, sucralose, gluten, wheat.
5. Book an appointment with your Naturopathic Doctor
Migraines can be successfully managed once a thorough health history is obtained. Successful management requires the correct diagnosis and comprehensive blood work. Treatment may involve nutrition and lifestyle counselling, acupuncture, orthomolecular medicine and the correction of nutrient deficiencies. It is important that your treatment targets the causes of your migraines, because each person's migraine experience is unique.
*For more information on migraine headaches, check out this article*