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Migraines? A Ketogenic Diet might be a solution…

Migraines are a common problem. People often ask me, what can I do to help prevent them.

There are so many potential triggers, therefore it’s important for you to go through and eliminate the most common factors that may help to reduce or stop your migraines. To make this easier, I have linked a website called Healthline in the ‘Studies Featured’ box, which may help you with this difficult task. I would recommend you to eliminate each one individually. See if your migraines reduce. Then you will know which triggers may be playing a role.

Now on to the research, a lower-carb diet has been shown to help prevent migraines. It does this by changing the type of fuel that enters the brain. A ketogenic diet is a low carb diet. Not to be confused with the Atkins Diet that doesn’t include any carbs.

A study conducted in June of this year (2019) compared the effects of two very-low-calorie diets – one ketogenic and one non-ketogenic – in 35 overweight and obese men and women who experience migraines. Each volunteer was randomly assigned a diet that they followed for four weeks, before swapping to the other for the same duration.

They made their meals and altered the carbohydrate and protein ratios and kept the fat the same. To make sure people didn’t know what they were getting, they gave them smoothies or soups.

They found that 74 per cent that followed the ketogenic diet/low carb diet had at least half as many migraines when compared to the other group. The other group only showed a 9 per cent reduction.

If we compare this to the latest drugs which are called CGRP monoclonal antibodies, they cut migraines by half but in only 30-48 per cent of users.

We don’t know if these effects can be sustained long term.

How does this work?

Ketones might have something to do with it. Ketones (chemically known as ketone bodies) are byproducts of the breakdown of fatty acids. The breakdown of fat for fuel and the creation of ketones is a normal process for everyone.

Ketone bodies dampen brain inflammation and stop the spread of electrical waves associated with migraines.

The diet might also work because lower carbohydrate intake reduces the production of insulin, a hormone thought to play a role in migraines.

Also, other possible benefits are weight loss and they have been shown to help with epilepsy and schizophrenia in some people.

How to Implement

A low carb diet could consist of aiming between 50-100grams a day. Try to get the former if you are very sedentary most of the day. You can up it to 100grams if you are planning to or have exercised more that day. Try and get your carbohydrates from whole grains, fruits, veggies, and legumes. And limit those from simple sugars like chocolate, honey and sweets. And it’s that simple…. well I am aware that for some people cutting out sugar can be very challenging and therefore not sustainable. In this case you can try cycling on and off the diet for a week or two at a time. Or when your migraines are particularly bad. I have linked my two favourite keto diet books which have some brillaint low carb recipes. 

I hope you find this useful, let me know how you get on or if you have any questions.

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