There are more than 40 million people in the United States who regularly suffer from debilitating migraine headaches, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Their loss of productivity is overshadowed by the blinding pain of these headaches.
For many years, certain foods were associated with the onset of migraine headaches and until recently, this has been largely anecdotal. However, new research on this subject found that people who suffer from migraines may be reacting to nitrate. Foods such as processed meats, leafy vegetables and wine have a high level of nitrates, which suggested to the researchers that these foods might play a role in the onset of migraine headaches.
Do you suffer from migraines? We might be able to help.
One of the Root Causes of Migraines: Processed Foods
Terri DeNeui is a nurse practitioner and the founder of Evexias Medical Centers (link to contact us) and she has helped thousands of patients overcome the misery of migraines. She has done this by using the latest advances in medical testing, offering innovative treatment and lifestyle changes. In a previous post, she explained what part the hormone estrogen plays in the onset of these headaches. “We see hundreds of women each month who are suffering from migraines and estrogen is one of the most successful treatments we conduct.” As it turns out, hormone imbalance is not the only culprit. The type of food one consumes can also lead to these chronic headaches.
“While we don’t have enough hard data to draw specific conclusions, there is a great deal of evidence (including the research noted above) to suggest that the dramatic increase in the number of patients suffering from these headaches is being driven by the over-processing and preservation of certain foods. When a ‘Twinkie’ can sit on a shelf for some ridiculously long period of time and is still considered edible, most likely it contains a great deal of preservatives,” she laughed.
“Nitrates are preservatives,” she said. “It is one of many things that are added to our food these days in order to increase its shelf life. These processed foods are chocked full of chemicals and our bodies were not meant to consume these.
“The situation with wine and coffee is also interesting. Decades ago, when we consumed wine or coffee, the grapes and the beans were not infused with pesticides. We are seeing a direct correlation between pesticides, food additives and fertilizers, which are bug-resistant, and the increase in such conditions as migraines.”
Learning What Causes Your Migraines
Managing the onset of migraines is more complicated than merely avoiding those foods and situations that might cause them. Terri explains.
“One of the first things we advise is to have patients keep a journal,” she said. “What are the things that cause headaches? What are the things that seem to make them go away, and what makes them more severe?
“We have the patient notice what factors are occurring each time a migraine presents. It may be caused by what they ate the night before or it may be related to a woman’s menstrual cycle, where imbalanced hormones might be the cause.
“One of the first things we do at Evexias Medical Centers is a detox diet, and then we begin eliminating the things that might be bringing about the condition. It is critical for us to find the ‘root cause’ of these headaches, which are not always readily apparent.
Most doctors and patients treat migraines from a neurological standpoint – getting CT scans and MRI scans – and this is important in order to find if there is some unusual brain issue such as a tumor. However, if these diagnostic actions show the brain to be normal, the standard procedure is often to prescribe more drugs. Our approach is to determine the root cause of these headaches.
“If you can’t pronounce it…don’t eat it”
This research examined the effect nitrates have on migraine headaches. However, nitrates are just one cause. There are more.
“I tell my patients to read the label on any food they are planning on consuming and if it has more than five ingredients, and you can’t pronounce any of them, don’t eat it,” she laughed. The entire ‘GMO’(genetically modified organisms) group of plants has the potential of causing untold damage to the body.
“Many people don’t realize that high fructose corn syrup can often lead to migraine headaches. Soft drinks and many snack foods are packed with fructose, and they are killing our children through obesity. Plus, more and more children are now getting migraines. This is not a coincidence.
We wonder why our kids can’t focus in school. So, we give them ADHD meds rather than feeding them real food. I believe it’s time we stop this,” she concluded.
Do you suffer from migraine headaches? Your diet or hormone imbalance may be causing this. Let us help you. Fill out a simple diagnostic form and we will set up an appointment with our experts.
Speaker, Author, and Board-Certified Nurse Practitioner, Dr. Terri DeNeui, DNP, ACNP, APRN-BC, has extensive training in her field. She earned her B.A in Nursing from Texas Women’s University and her Master’s and Doctoral degrees at UT Arlington. In addition to her training in acute and emergency medicine, she has extended her education to include certifications in Preventative Wellness Medicine, Functional Medicine and Hormone Replacement Therapy.