Blood Sugar And Migraines
If you suffer from migraines or even headaches, paying attention to how often you eat is important. Why? Because people with low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia, are more susceptible to migraines. At the same time, having blood sugar levels that are too high can cause the same effect. We know this might be difficult to grasp, so let’s dive deeper into the connection between blood sugar and migraines.
Just How To Lower Blood Glucose Degrees With Diet
Lowering blood glucose degrees with dietary changes can be done by sticking to a low glycemic diet regimen. Reducing blood sugar level levels can be done by eating foods that dont make the body produce high quantities of glucose when absorbed. Decreasing blood sugar also requires physical adjustments, such as losing weight or increasing physical activity.
It is necessary to bear in mind that in order to lower blood sugar degrees, it must be carried out in conjunction with a doctors supervision. Decreasing blood sugar degrees must only be done when the body is healthy and balanced enough to handle such an endeavor, and also it can have unfavorable effects if done improperly.
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What Should I Eat If I Ate Too Much Sugar
Eat some protein and fiber Stabilize your blood sugar by eating some slow-digesting protein and fiber. If you don’t, your blood sugar will crash and you’ll potentially feel hungry and want to eat again. Great snack options are an apple and nut butter, a hard boiled egg and pistachios, or hummus and veggies.
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Can Sugar Cause Migraines
Migraines are not regular headaches. Everyday headaches, sometimes called tension-type headaches, usually occur as a mild to moderate ache on both sides of the head. On the other hand, migraines tend to cause severe throbbing pain, typically occur on one side of the head, and are often accompanied by nausea, visual symptoms, and sensitivity to light and noise. While tension-type headaches are unpleasant, migraine headaches can be debilitating.
But despite their differences, migraineslike tension-type headachescan be caused by eating sugary foods. Low-blood-sugar episodes are an established migraine trigger. In fact, migraines are linked not just with blood sugar fluctuations but with poor metabolic health generally.
During a typical migraine, specific brain regions become overexcited, blood vessels in the head dilate, neuropeptides are released, and the trigeminal nerve is activated. But how exactly these events are linkedand why theyre triggered by glycemic variabilityis still being studied.
Some researchers have suggested that insulin causes migraines directly because people with migraines tend to have higher insulin levels. Others have argued that migraines and metabolic illness may be caused by a third variable like oxidative stress or deficiencies in certain micronutrients . And still, other research has identified nitric oxide as a possible migraine culprit linked to metabolic health.
Sugar Can Cause Headaches And It’s More Likely If You Have Diabetes
- Eating too much or too little sugar can trigger a headache.
- This is because sugar consumption affects blood sugar levels, and can lead to hyperglycemia or hypoglycemia, which both include symptoms like headaches.
- Sugar headaches are more common for people with diabetes, as they have more difficulty regulating blood sugar levels.
- This article was reviewed by Jason R. McKnight, MD, MS, a family medicine physician and clinical assistant professor at Texas A& M College of Medicine.
- Visit Insider’s Health Reference library for more advice.
There are many different types of headaches, and your diet can play a role in how often you get them. In fact, your sugar consumption may be an important factor, especially if you have diabetes, as abnormal blood sugar levels are known to trigger headaches.
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When Your Blood Sugar Is Low
The headache that comes with a mild or severe low blood sugar can feel like your skull is cracking apart its brutal. And often times, the headache will linger long after youve treated the hypoglycemia and your blood sugar is back up to a safe range.
As mentioned earlier, your brain requires that second-by-second delivery of glucose in order to think and function. Some of the symptoms that come with some low blood sugars like a lack of coordination or sudden confusion are perfect evidence of what it looks like when your brain is struggling to function when that gas tank of sugar is low.
In one way, you could think of your headache during a low blood sugar as your brains way of trying to get your attention begging you to give your body the fast-acting carbohydrates it needs to recover.
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What Is A Sugar Headache
Reducing the amount of sugar you consume usually isnt a bad idea. Eating refined grains or foods with added sugars provides almost no nutritive value and can raise your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. But most people know that abruptly eliminating sugar from the diet can trigger headachessometimes called sugar withdrawal or a sugar headache. What causes a headache from sugar withdrawal? Get the facts about how too littleor too muchsugar in your bloodstream can cause your head to throb.
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Sugar Is A Potentially Inflammatory Food
I think the overwhelming majority of people agree that adding sugar is not a healthy practice. Over the past few years, as certain chronic, inflammatory diseases have risen along with the steep increase in our sugar consumption, more research is being done linking sugars and simple carbohydrates to preventable diseases.
Just having daily sugary drinks can increase biochemical markers of inflammation in healthy people. Additionally, diets high is refined sugars and starches may also lead to increased illnesses associated with inflammation.
How is this relevant to migraine? Increasingly, experts believe that chronic inflammation plays a role in migraine. Perhaps the sugar and migraine connection has to do with neurogenic inflammation that can be influenced by several factors including what we eat.
What about anti-inflammatory diets?
While there is no one anti-inflammatory diet that nutrition professionals can agree upon, all the diet approaches to reducing inflammation significantly limit sugars and refined carbohydrates. The Mediterranean diet is a popular approach to reducing inflammation in the body. Healthline has a good overview of the Mediterranean diet and specifies avoiding added sugar, soda, candies, ice cream, table sugar and many others. During this years Migraine World Summit, one of the experts discussed the topic of migraine and obesity. His recommendation was to consider the Mediterranean diet as a healthy approach to weight management and overall wellness.
Can Too Much Sugar Or Not Enough Sugar Cause Headaches
Both too much sugar and not enough sugar can cause headaches.
Dr. Patel was quoted as saying:Sugar-related headaches come from a rapid swing in your blood sugar level. So its not actually the sugar itself that causes the headache, but the quick change in consumption. Glucose level fluctuations affect your brain more than any other organ.
Sugar causes hormonal changes, specifically with epinephrine and norepinephrine. Those shifts change blood vessel behavior in the brain, causing a headache.
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How Long Does This Hell Last
There is no one answer to this question.
But in general,
a keto headache and its accompanying symptoms last one to seven days in most cases.
This is the time it takes for the average body to start producing ketones and enter ketosis.
The reasons why I said it depends, is because it depends on how strict you are with your diet and how far you are from entering ketosis.
If you dont even remember what carbs smell like, eat loads of fats and keep your electrolytes replenished, you will be in ketosis in no time,
and you will experience fewer headaches.
if you still cheat, eat carbs in tandem with fats and are jumping in and out of ketosis, then you will be experiencing headaches lot more.
And while it is to be expected that different people respond differently to carbohydrate reduction,
a headache that is taking too long to resolve is a sign that something is missing in your diet or that you have an underlying health problem.
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Treating Headaches From Hyperglycemia
Exercise can help relieve a headache from high blood glucose levels.
If a person with type 1 diabetes is concerned about their level of ketones, it is important to check their urine for ketones first, especially if blood sugar levels reach 240 mg/dl.
People with ketones in their urine should not exercise and must contact their doctor immediately. Exercise could have the unintentional effect of increasing blood sugar levels.
A person can also help prevent hyperglycemia headaches by maintaining a healthy weight, following a nutritious and balanced diet, and taking the correct medications.
Headaches can signal periods of either high or low blood glucose that can lead to life-threatening complications without treatment. People with diabetes who experience frequent headaches should, therefore, consult their doctor.
It is vital to contact a doctor immediately if the following becomes apparent:
- A headache is severe and impacts daily life.
- Blood sugar levels do not return to the necessary range.
- Other severe or persistent symptoms develop alongside headaches.
According to the International Classification of Headache Disorders that the International Headache Society publish, there are over 150 types of headache.
Broadly, headaches can be classified as either primary or secondary:
Other causes of secondary headaches include:
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How To Avoid Sugar Headaches
Whether you have diabetes or not, you can manage your diet to avoid developing a headache after sugar consumption. Try these strategies:
Avoid sugar binges. Remember that sugar exists in many foodsand in alcohol. To avoid a sugar headache, dont binge on candy, desserts or cocktails.
Drink plenty of water. Adequate hydration can help your body eliminate excessive glucose from the bloodstream.
Eat complex carbohydrates instead of simple ones. Simple carbohydrates like refined grains, potatoes and table sugar cause insulin levels to spike, which can lead to headache. To avoid that, aim to eat more complex carbohydrates like fresh vegetables and whole grains. Complex carbs take longer to digest and dont dramatically raise insulin levels.
Reduce your sugar consumption gradually. Taper off sugary drinks, for example, instead of quitting cold turkey. This approach will allow your brain and blood vessels to adapt to the change in glucose levels.
Track your carbohydrate and sugar consumption, either formally or informally. People with diabetes should precisely track all the simple and complex carbs they consume throughout the day to keep their blood sugar levels stable. Others can use a dietary app for this purpose, or simply limit the amount of simple carbohydrates you eat with each meal.
What Do Sweets Have To Do With It
There are basically two kinds of sweets: sugars and artificial sweeteners .
Lets talk about real sugar first. As you can see there are 3 main types. Glucose is the same as what is in our blood so it can be called blood sugar. Lactose, sugar in milk is a type of glucose. Sucrose is sugar the body can convert to glucose. It can be found in carbohydrate foods such as rice and potato, which many people avoid as bad carbs but are in fact way better than the last group: fructose. How bad fructose is for your body is probably news to you since fruits have tons of fructose in them and we are told that fruits are healthy and we are told to eat them. And so they are! Fructose when you eat it as a fruit with fiber is great. There is a long explanation via video and by book titled Fat Chance by Robert Lustig, M.D. of what fructose is and what it becomes. Few actually understand the seriousness of it so let me explain in as simple way as I can what fructose is and what it does so you can understand its bad effects on the body and on migraine.
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What Is A Migraine
Sugar can be a factor in both headaches and migraines, and while both consist primarily of a thumping or sore head, a migraine is much more than just a headache.
Migraine episodes can range in severity, but a bad migraine can be disabling.
Migraines are thought to be caused by changes in levels of brain chemicals in certain regions of the brain.
They are very often accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and extreme sensitivity to sound and light.
Other side effects of a migraine include constipation, mood swings, food cravings, increased thirst and urination, as well as frequent yawning.
What If Im Delaying Eating Because I Get Headaches Afterward
The issue might not be when youre eating, but what youre eating. Certain foods are more likely to cause headaches, including:
- Aged cheeses, like feta, Parmesan and Swiss.
- Foods that contain the additive monosodium glutamate .
- Dried meats and fruits.
- High-sugar and processed foods, such as packaged cookies and crackers.
- Meat products like hot dogs and pepperoni that contain additives .
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Low Blood Sugar Vs High Blood Sugar
Technically, there are two types of blood sugar imbalances: hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia.
Hypoglycemia means you dont have enough sugar in your bloodstream. Specifically, you get hypoglycemia when your blood sugar levels go below 70 mg/dL. Adults experience hypoglycemia more often than kids since this condition is usually triggered by something like skipping a meal. Many adults do this on purpose to lose weight or because they have too much work to finish to feel like its okay to take a break.
However, triggering hypoglycemia on purpose can lead to a sugar withdrawal headache. In a nutshell, your brain normally produces extra dopamine when it gets a sudden boost of sugar. If your brain becomes used to certain levels of sugar, it will produce less dopamine when your sugar intake slows down.
Dopamine is the feel good hormone for humans. Once your body becomes used to a certain amount of it, a lower amount can make you feel bad, causing symptoms like fatigue, moodiness, and sadness.
Hyperglycemia is the opposite. It means you have too much sugar in your bloodstream. When this happens, your body cant properly use that sugar with the available insulin in your bloodstream. You get hyperglycemia if your blood sugar levels go above 180 mg/dL.
Does Sugar Trigger Migraines
The consumption of sugar can have a knock-on domino-like effect on your body which can trigger headaches. When you eat sugary foods, it can cause your body to produce and release extra insulin.
This can then cause a low blood sugar level.
A low blood sugar level, medically known as Hypoglycaemia, is when the level of sugar in your body drops too low.
You may think its hard to recognize low glucose levels but its probably something youve experienced more than once in your life.
Ever gorged out on a load of tasty sweet treats and felt that massive sugar crash an hour or so later?
Thats it. Low glucose levels can trigger a migraine in some people.
Rapid changes in blood glucose levels from eating too much or too little sugar can cause headaches. It is possible that these headaches could then progress into a migraine.
Blood sugar levels and hormonal changes can both be factors in causing painful headaches and the consumption of sugar can affect both of these.
So if you are prone to migraines it is important to be aware of your sugar intake.
So does this mean you shouldnt ever eat refined sugars? No dont panic. You can still enjoy your favorite tasty treats in moderation.
If a high-carb meal or snack is consumed without any source of protein, fiber, or fat, blood glucose levels will drop.
If you are going to eat simple sugars make sure that you eat them with or after meals.
This way you can avoid the dreaded sugar crash and then hopefully bypass a nasty headache.
A Final Word On Cutting Back On Added Sugar In Your Diet
While its simply not realistic to avoid all added sugars in your diet, its a good idea to read labels focus on whole, unprocessed foods as much as possible and make healthier food choices. Companies are going to make their foods taste good thats part of their business but as individuals, were becoming more conscious of our health, so we can decide how much of that stuff we put in our body, Li says.
Can Sugar Cause Headaches
Did you know that both too much sugar and too little of sugar can cause headaches? When you consume too much sugar at once or dont eat for an extended period of time, you can cause rapid fluctuations in your blood sugar levels which can trigger a headache. Some people are more prone to these sugar-triggered headaches. Lets take a look.
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Why Does Sugar Trigger An Attack
Your body needs a certain amount of sugar to operate, and when you consume sugar it causes your blood glucose levels to fluctuate. Your brain needs a consistent flow of glucose, and when it doesnt receive enough or gets too much, it responds negatively. This negative response triggers a headache or migraine.
Too high or too low is not good. If your blood sugar is too high, you have Hyperglycemia. This is a medical condition where your body is unable to break down glucose with insulin, so your blood sugar rises . Symptoms that occur with hyperglycemia include frequent need to urinate, extreme thirst, blurry vision, or fatigue.
Too low and you have a medical condition called Hypoglycemia. Your blood sugar can dip . You can experience hypoglycemia if you skip meals or only eat simple sugars, such as white sugar. Symptoms that accompany hypoglycemia include lightheadedness, weakness, pale skin, hunger, anxiety, dizziness, or sweating.
Either one of these conditions can cause headaches and migraine.
So does sugar cause migraine headaches? It sure can. Too much or too little! Fasting, eating processed or high-sugar foods, dieting too rigorously, and skipping meals can all trigger an attack. Even delayed or irregular meals can make a difference because of your blood-glucose levels falling too low.