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Can High Sugar Cause Migraines

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Sugar Is A Potentially Inflammatory Food

Can Blood Sugar Levels Cause Headaches| Symptoms Of High Blood Sugar In Non-Diabetics 2021

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.

Does Sugar Cause Migraine Headaches

Written and verified by Holly Hazen

Does sugar cause migraine headaches? Too much sugar, too little sugar? You may already know that almost anything can trigger a migraine attack, so why not sugar?

This is a great area of debate. There are different opinions around how much sugar, and what type of sugar, consumption can impact your migraine attacks. Different foods raise your blood glucose levels higher than others.

For me, it can be a major trigger. I recently researched a brand of crackers I absolutely love. And I discovered that each cracker had more than one teaspoon of sugar… each single cracker.

For the most part, experts agree that there is a connection between blood sugar levels and at least some migraine attacks.

So, lets take a look at all of that… here’s what you’ll learn in this article:

  • How much is too much?
  • What foods raise our blood glucose levels?
  • The link between sugar and migraine and does sugar cause migraine headaches?
  • Why does sugar trigger an attack?
  • Carbs…
  • Foods surprisingly high in sugar.
  • Top 6 low glycemic foods.
  • Try this diet as an alternative.
  • Does sugar cause migraine headaches for you? An easy way to test and monitor if sugar is a trigger for you.
  • I have a course with an 8 week food and supplement experiment in it.

If You Have High Blood Pressure

Considering that nearly two-thirds of people with diabetes struggle with high blood pressure, its very likely contributing to your headaches. This is especially important to discuss with your doctor because very few people with high blood pressure actually have symptoms.

High blood pressure can easily go undiagnosed and untreated. Consequences of long-term high blood pressure include:

  • Severe damage to your heart
  • Severe damage to your arteries
  • Increased risk of stroke and blood clots
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Risk of sleep apnea

Don’t Miss: How To Drop Your Blood Sugar

What Are The Complications Of Diabetes

If your blood glucose level remains high over a long period of time, your bodys tissues and organs can be seriously damaged. Some complications can be life-threatening over time.

Complications include:

  • Dental problems.

Complications of gestational diabetes:

In the mother:Preeclampsia , risk of gestational diabetes during future pregnancies and risk of diabetes later in life.

In the newborn: Higher-than-normal birth weight, low blood sugar , higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes over time and death shortly after birth.

How To Treat Sugar Headaches

8 Foods That Trigger Migraines  SheKnows

If you have a headache and you suspect it is from high blood sugar levels, make sure you are hydrated, says Barnathan. Your headache may be partly from the dehydration caused by hyperglycemia. You can also take an over-the-counter pain medicine like acetaminophen or ibuprofen to help relieve your headache.

If your headache is a result of hypoglycemia, it is usually because you haven’t eaten, so eating a healthy meal will help. For example, eating small meals throughout the day full of whole grains, fiber, and lean protein can help avoid hypoglycemia.

If you have diabetes, make sure you always have a fast-acting carbohydrate with you, like juice or glucose tablets. These carbs can be quickly broken down into sugar, so you can raise your blood sugar fast before it drops dangerously low.

If you don’t have diabetes, but recently cut sugar out of your diet and are experiencing headaches, make sure your body has complex carbs to break down for energy. That will help avoid ketosis and the accompanying headaches. Complex carbs include:

  • Whole grains like oatmeal or bread
  • Vegetables like peas
  • Legumes like beans

Recommended Reading: Does Blood Sugar Go Up At Night

Fluctuating Blood Sugar Levels

When we eat food, our body gets to work on digesting and absorbing the meal. Assuming our digestive and endocrine systems are working properly, there is a normal, healthy rise in blood sugar followed by a gradual decline. Blood sugar is kept in a range that allows our body to have enough fuel to provide the brain and all organs of the body to perform vital functions.

For some people, the ability to regulate blood sugar is impaired. Blood sugar levels may climb too high in response to sugars and other high-carbohydrate foods. Their body may sense this elevated blood sugar and respond with a surge in a hormone called insulin to try to reduce the elevated blood sugar. The surge sometimes results in blood sugar getting too low. This can cause sugar headache for those who are prone to it.

The migraine brain is often described as being hyper responsive to normal, benign stimulation. A person who is not prone to headache or migraine attacks may be completely unaware of the ups and downs of their blood sugar whether they are normal fluctuations or not. Contrarily, the person predisposed to migraine may be triggered by the inconsistencies and abnormalities in blood sugar. In this theory about sugar and migraines, the body is sometimes unable to maintain blood sugar in the proper range. This causes the brain to respond with pain as a warning signal that something is wrong.

A leading experts opinion

3 steps to take to avoid sugar and migraine episodes

Does Sugar Cause Migraine Headaches For You

The only way to find out for sure is to experiment and see what happens, but be sure to keep a journal. If you’d like more help, there is a food experiment journal in my course – Migraine Pain Management Course


Angela Stanton Ph.D., author of The Migraine Epidemic, suggests testing 1/2 cup of blueberries first to see if that triggers an attack. Then she suggests testing 1/2 a baked potato and then a whole baked potato. Keep a journal, monitor your results. Test it once to see and then test 2 days in a row, then test 3 days in a row.

But wait a week or so in between testing.

Until next time, be well and be pain free.



There’s an 8 week food experiment in my Migraine Pain Management Course. The first module is free… continue reading

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Recommended Reading: Do You Take Insulin When Your Blood Sugar Is High

Is Hypoglycemia Causing Your Migraines

Your body runs on glucose. You break down the carbohydrates you eat into glucose for your cells to use for energy. You can probably guess what happens when there is not enough glucose in your system.

When hypoglycemia occurs, the body has several ways to tell you it needs more fuel, not all of them pleasant. For some unfortunate people, the low-on-gas message is received as a migraine. We are here to tell you more about hypoglycemia, its connection to migraines, and how you can treat and prevent these problems now and in the future.

Get Your Blood Pressure Down

Can High Blood Sugar Cause Dizziness?

Reducing your blood pressure isnt just going to help spare you from headaches, it could save your life. In addition to persistent high blood pressure, some people with blood pressure issues can experience a rapid increase that puts your entire life at risk.

Here are several things the American Diabetes Association recommends to lower your blood pressure:

  • Talk to your healthcare team about all of your treatment options
  • Research medications that lower blood pressure, including ACE inhibitors, ARBs, beta blockers, calcium channel blockers, and diuretics
  • Get more whole grains in your diet
  • Reduce your salt intake with a low-sodium salt substitute, and herbs and spices
  • Avoid packaged foods with more than 400 mg of sodium per serving
  • Eat more whole foods that dont contain any sodium in the first place
  • Make a weight-loss goal and start walking at a comfortable pace every day
  • Reduce your alcohol consumption
  • If you smoke, its time to quit!

In the end, reducing blood pressure comes down to living a healthier lifestyle. You dont have to be perfect, but if 80 percent of your day consists of healthy choices combined with more activity, youll see those numbers gradually come down.

Read Also: What To Take For High Blood Sugar

What Else You Should Know About Ocular Migraines

An ocular migraine is short-lived and may not be painful, but it can be debilitating you have to be careful while doing daily activities like driving, reading, or writing. The chance of permanent vision loss due to an ocular migraine is rare but the reduced blood flow for a prolonged time can damage your retina. So it is a good idea to make an appointment with your ophthalmologist to check your condition.

Since hormones play such a big role in causing migraines, declining estrogen levels as women age and enter menopause is a reason why migraines usually reduce in severity in older women.11

Is Diabetes To Blame For Your Headache

Take control of pain

Diabetes is a chronic metabolic disease that results in blood sugar, or glucose, abnormalities. This causes a host of symptoms and related complications, some of which can be life-threatening. A common symptom of high or low blood glucose is a headache. Headaches alone arent harmful, but they can signal that your blood sugar is out of its target range. If you have frequent headaches, diabetes may be to blame. Find out if diabetes is the cause of your headache so you can take proper action.

Also Check: How To Get Your Sugar Up

Why Does Sugar Trigger My Migraines

Have you ever experienced pounding pain in your head after eating your favorite ice cream? That mint chocolate chip tasted so good in the moment, but an hour later you find yourself on the couch, hunched over in debilitating pain.

Its not guilt-driven pain you feel from indulging in your nighttime treat, but it is a literal throbbing in your head. Its not natural. Others dont experience this. And you wish it would just go away.Let me see if I can help. Lets first figure out why you feel this pain, and then well talk about how you can fix the problem.

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.

If your blood sugar is too high, you have a medical condition called Hyperglycemia. Your body is unable to break down glucose with insulin, so your blood sugar rises to 180-200 mg/dL. Symptoms that occur with hyperglycemia include frequent need to urinate, extreme thirst, blurry vision, or fatigue.

Hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia both cause headaches and migraines. Patients who have experienced either condition become afraid to eat food, or they abstain from food, worried that whatever they end up doing will bring on a headache.

I want to dispel your fear.

2. Eat healthy

3. Exercise

4. Hydrate


When Your Blood Sugar Is Low

Sugar Headache

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.

Read Also: How To Get Electrolytes Without Sugar

When Your Blood Sugar Is High

Its easy to forget that your brain isnt getting the proper fuel it needs when your blood sugar is high, too, because while there is plenty of glucose in the bloodstream, it requires insulin to help your body actually make use of it.

While the effect of high blood sugar levels doesnt feel as emergent as the symptoms of low blood sugars, your body is still struggling in other ways.

Flooded with glucose but without adequate insulin quickly leads to varying levels of:

Diabetes-related ketones are the result of your body being forced to burn fat for fuel in a very dangerous way, producing ketones at a very dangerous rate and quantity. It is a state of stress for your entire body including your brain.

Additionally, when your blood sugar is high, your body will become dehydrated. The higher your blood sugar is and the greater the length of time its high, the more dehydrated youll become.

Dehydration even in those without diabetes is an obvious and well-known cause for a headache. But keep in mind that dehydration can also lead to high blood sugars. The less water there is in your bodily tissue and bloodstream, the more concentrated the glucose in your bloodstream becomes.

Drinking enough water as a person with diabetes ought to be considered as critical as taking your medications, but its an easy one to overlook.

Causes Of Ocular Migraine

An ocular or ophthalmic migraine is hold your breath a painless migraine! These are, however, associated with visual disturbances in both eyes. You may experience flickering or flashing lights, lines, stars, or blind spots that deter your vision. About 35 percent of migraine sufferers experience this kind of an aura, visual or otherwise. A painless migraine such as an ocular migraine is considered a migraine equivalent.1

Read Also: What Raises Your Blood Sugar

Is It A Trigger Or A Warning

We know that the brain of someone with migraine likes balance, like regular sleep and meal patterns. We also know that migraine can be triggered by alcohol and the menstrual cycle. The evidence for other triggers, such as exercise, eating chocolate and bright light, is less certain.

It can sometimes be difficult to tell if something is really a trigger, or if what youre experiencing is an early symptom of a migraine attack.

Studies have found that sometimes what you may think is a trigger is actually to do with the premonitory or warning stage of a migraine attack.

During this stage, you may get symptoms such as changes in your mood or emotions, cravings for certain foods, and being more sensitive to light, sound or smells.

These symptoms can lead to you think that something is triggering your migraine attack. For example, at the beginning of a migraine attack, you may start to crave sweet foods. You may then eat some chocolate to satisfy the craving. When you then get a headache, you may think that eating chocolate was the trigger. But actually you were starting to have a migraine attack when the cravings started and the cravings were the warning sign.

The same could be true for other triggers. If you are more sensitive to light in the warning stage, you might think bright lights are a trigger. If you are more sensitive to smells, you might think certain scents are a trigger.

Why Does Sugar Trigger An Attack

Healthy Eating & Living : Does High Blood Pressure Cause Bad Headaches?

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.

Read Also: When Should I Check My Sugar

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