The Connection Between Sugar And Headaches
The body requires glucose to manage virtually every vital function. The body converts the carbohydrates and sugars you eat into glucose, which provides energy to the cells to carry out their tasks. Some cells and organs also use other types of fuel, such as fat, but the brain powers itself exclusively on glucose.
If your blood glucose level becomes too high or too low, it can affect certain hormones that cause the blood vessels in your brain to constrict or dilate and cause a headache. You can think of a sugar headache as the brains warning signal that something is amiss with your blood sugar level.
When Headache From Eating Sugar Is Really Prodrome The First Phase Of Migraine
What if the migraine attack was already set in motion before the sweet tooth was satisfied? What if there is no relationship between sugar and migraine for you?
Migraine has 4 distinct phases and understanding them helps to minimize the frequency and intensity of attacks.
In the first phase, prodrome, many people experience intense food cravings. For some people, prodrome has them reaching for salty foods like potato or corn chips. For others it is probably best to not get between them and the Haagen Dazs ice cream or bag of gummy bears. BUT, prodrome is shortly followed by aura and the full attack phase of migraine. So, while there may be a notable pattern: sugar craving +overdoing it with sweets= migraine, the sugar may not be to blame. The attack was going to happen with or without the goodies and darn! Those Oreos were good!
As with most aspects of getting migraine attacks under good control, it starts with educating yourself about the complexities of migraine and the human body. Then comes determining a strategy to find the right combination of interventions that work best.
As a registered dietitian passionate about helping people with migraine, I suggest limiting sugars and highly processed foods. This is good for overall wellness, attaining and maintaining a healthy weight and helping to reduce the burden of migraine.
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If You Do Have A Headache In Relation To Sugar What Suggestions Do You Have For Relief
If youre experiencing hypoglycemia or low blood sugar levels, and its not related to an illness like diabetes, symptoms can be treated by consuming 15 grams of fast-acting carbohydrates, or cabs easily converted sugar like gel, juice, soft drinks and sugary candy.
Dr. Patel was quoted as saying:Hypoglycemic attacks mostly occur in diabetics. If you think youre experiencing a hypoglycemic attack, you should go to the doctor immediately. Those with diabetes or hormone deficiencies should consult their physicians about long-term symptom relief plans, which generally include a structured diet.
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High Blood Sugar Facts
- Low high blood sugar is abnormally high blood levels of insulin in the blood. Hyperglycemia is a hallmark sign of diabetes and prediabetes, and diabetes is the most common cause of it. Severely elevated glucose levels can result in a medical emergency like diabetic ketoacidosis or hyperglycemic hyperosmolar nonketotic syndrome .
- The primary symptom of hyperglycemia is excessive amounts of sugar in the urine. Other symptoms and signs of high blood sugar levels in the blood are blurred vision, hunger , and headaches.
- Other conditions that can cause high blood sugar are pancreatitis, Cushings syndrome, unusual hormone-secreting tumors, pancreatic cancer, certain medications, and severe illnesses.
- Insulin is the treatment for people with type 1 diabetes, and life-threatening increases in glucose levels. People with type 2 diabetes may be managed with a combination of different oral and injectable medications. Hyperglycemia due to medical conditions other than diabetes is generally treated by treating the underlying condition responsible for the elevated glucose.
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Preventing Migraines Caused By Hypoglycemia
It seems self-evident, but the best way to prevent hypoglycemia and the attendant migraine is to eat regular, healthy meals. If you are diabetic, follow your dietary and medical management plan established by your physician and nutritionist.
- Avoid hidden sugars in packaged foods. Read the label.
- Train your brain to stop craving sugar by eating complex carbohydrates that are found in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
- Eat more vegetables and fruit than pasta, bread, or chips.
Smaller, more frequent meals can help keep glucose levels steady throughout the day. At any rate, do not go more than three hours without eating while you are awake. Make sure to consume a diet balanced in protein, fats, carbohydrates, and fiber. Limit sugary foods and alcohol, especially if your stomach is empty.
Get plenty of exercise, too. Physical exertion helps your body use glucose more efficiently and effectively.
Hypoglycemia has been found to be a cause of migraines in those susceptible to the condition. It can be caused by irregular eating habits or by ingesting too much sugar. If a migraine occurs, it may be treatable by increasing your blood glucose. Prevent migraines by eating a regular, healthy diet.
If you are concerned you suffer from hypoglycemia or diabetes, consult your primary care physician immediately for a diagnosis and proper treatment.
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Berries May Relieve Sinus Pressure
Smaller fruits tend to have more exposure to pesticides, and so Brown recommends getting organic berries whenever possible.
What Is A Sucralose Migraine
Sucralose is a zero-calorie artificial sweetener derived from sugar. Known by the brand name, Splenda, you can use this sweetener for both cooking and baking. According to “Sweet Stuff: An American History of Sweeteners From Sugar to Sucralose,” sucralose is approximately 600-times sweeter than sugar. Manufacturers also use sucralose in a variety of packaged foods and beverages. Sucralose also has several side effects associated with its use, including migraines.
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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.
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Other Common Migraine Triggers In Sugary Foods
Sometimes people may erroneously assume the triggering factor in their food choice was sugar. When it was actually something else in the sweet treat. Sugary foods are often combined with other ingredients that are considered common migraine triggers such as nuts, chocolate, food colorings and certain dried foods.
Determining migraine foods triggers can be very tricky especially when you have frequent attacks. From observation, some people have a handful of common foods that are triggering. So, eliminating one food at a time often does not yield results. For example, they may avoid chocolate while continuing the eat nuts and protein bars while being sensitive to all three foods. It can be quite frustrating especially since many well-meaning experts suggest avoiding suspected foods one at a time.
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How Do I Determine Which Foods And Drinks Are My Headache Triggers
One common suggestion for figuring out your own personal headache triggers is to track the foods and drinks you consume in a daily food headache diary. You may consider yourself to be sensitive to a certain food or drink if you get a headache consistently 20 minutes to 2 hours after eating that certain food.
However, keep in mind that even though it sounds simple to track what you eat to try to figure out what foods and beverages might trigger your headache, its not this simple.
Problems with food headache trackers
Is it truly the food or drink that is causing your headache or is it one of the many ingredients or chemicals in these foods? Foods consist of many ingredients that contain many chemicals. Chemicals include nitrates/nitrites, phenylethylamine, sulfites, tannins, tyramine, salicylates, aspartate, added sugar, alcohol, caffeine, gluten, glutamate and capsaicin to name a few.
Even beyond consumed foods, drinks and ingredients/chemicals are other factors that must be considered that may complicate identifying the true trigger of your headache. These factors include:
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.
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How Much Is Too Much
I might start with how much is too much. I just learned this about carbohydrates and I need to tell you because it shocked the heck out of me.
The sugar in Schär Gluten Free crackers!
27.5 grams / 6 in a packet = 4.58 carbs and 66 sodium as per packet
4 grams = 1 t sugar, so one cracker is over 4 grams of sugar
This means each cracker has more than one teaspoon of sugar… each single cracker.
**Note: Schär Brand is officially certified as Low FODMAP. I thought this would mean less sugar… but I was wrong.
Coeliac Disease And Gluten Sensitivity
Coeliac disease is a serious condition where a persons immune system reacts when they eat gluten and causes damage to the lining of their gut. When this happens, they have symptoms such as diarrhoea, bloating, vomiting and stomach cramps. There can also be serious complications if it is not treated, such as anaemia. There is no cure for coeliac disease and people with it need to avoid gluten all their life.
There have been studies into the link between coeliac disease and migraine. There is no evidence to suggest that coeliac disease causes migraine. It is thought that if people with coeliac disease and migraine follow a gluten-free diet, this may help with both of their conditions.
Gluten sensitivity is when a person has a bad reaction if they eat gluten. They may have similar symptoms to coeliac disease, but there is no damage to the lining of their gut or the risk of serious complications that can happen with coeliac disease.
Gluten is found in foods that contain wheat, barley or rye. These include pasta, bread, cakes, some sauces and most ready meals.
One of the symptoms of gluten sensitivity is headache. But there is no evidence that gluten sensitivity causes migraine. However, if you are sensitive to gluten, you may find that if you eat food containing gluten, it makes migraine attacks more likely or the symptoms more painful.
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A Dive Into Headache From Sugar
The human body contains an adequate amount of sugar at all times so that it can fuel our cells. There are some people who have natively low or high blood sugar levels, so everyone should maintain optimal blood sugar. It will help them feel good and avoid sugar headaches, and you will also avoid some uncomfortable and unwanted symptoms.
A sugar headache may happen when the levels of blood sugar are not balanced. There are some names and kinds of sugar headaches known as sugar crashes. For instance, many kids love to consume sugary items such as cakes, candies, or cookies. Consuming too much of these can cause their blood sugar level to become oversaturated, and they crash a little while later.
There are some children who can tackle the sugar headache, and some are not that lucky. Adults also go through sugar headaches if they do not pay attention to their diets. There are two types of sugar headaches: low blood sugar headaches and high blood sugar headaches, which can irritate the blood vessels around the sinuses and head, which cause disruptions in the hormone.
It is always essential for kids and adults to check the amount of sugar they are consuming daily as it can cause severe problems. Too much of anything is harmful to the body, even when its role is to provide benefits to the body.
Causes Of Keto Headaches
Keto headaches do not have a single cause.
As already said, how people respond to carb reduction differs from one person to the next.
While you may respond to carb reduction with carb withdrawal symptoms, another person may respond with dehydration.
With that said, here are the most commonly reported reasons why people develop headaches on a ketogenic diet.
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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
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How To Do An Elimination Diet
If you suspect that certain foods or drinks trigger your migraine, an elimination diet could help. Youâll cut out foods and drinks that can trigger migraines and then slowly add them back. If your migraine symptoms return, it may be a sign that itâs because of a certain food.
Talk to your doctor before giving it a try. Youâll want to make sure that itâs safe for you and learn how to fine-tune the food plan for your needs.
DonÃ¢t cut out everything that might cause a headache at once. ThatÃ¢ll only make it harder to figure out which ones affect you. Also, itÃ¢s a bad idea for children and pregnant women to restrict food.
Instead, cut out one potential food trigger at a time. Keep track of how you feel over the next month. This should help you decide whether the food in question is a problem or if you can start eating it again.
Keep a food journal
A diary will help you keep track of your diet. If you get a migraine, donât look only at what you ate that day. Go back as far as 3 days before.
Sometimes, people crave the foods that will trigger their migraine. If you suspect a certain food or drink, remove it from your diet again for at least a month.
Think about your medicines
Donât stop or change any of your medication doses until you get the go-ahead from your doctor.
An elimination diet isnât foolproof
Since migraines have many triggers that arenÃ¢t food or drink, keep in mind that the diet may not give you all the answers.
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.
Can You Explain Hyperglycemia And Hypoglycemia And Their Relationship With Headaches How Does Someone Know They Have This Condition Is It A Temporary Condition Or Do You Always Have It
Hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia arent diseases themselves, but rather symptoms, or indicators of a health problem.
Dr. Patel was quoted as saying:Hyperglycemia occurs when the body is not producing or using enough insulin, the hormone that absorbs glucose into cells to be used for energy.
Again, this is typical in diabetics. Hypoglycemia is caused by very low blood glucose and is often associated with diabetes treatment. It can also very rarely be a side effect of medication, alcohol consumption, severe liver illnesses or hormone deficiencies.
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