According to migrainetrust.org, migraines are one of the most common conditions in the world, impacting more people than diabetes, epilepsy and asthma combined. Migraines are also thought to impact women more than men on a 3:1 ratio, but what causes them?
Migraines have many ‘triggers’. Trigger foods were previously thought to have a large involvement, for example chocolate, cheese and sweet foods. However there is increasing evidence that suggests rather than food being a trigger, it is more likely that the craving you have for that food is a dietary symptom of your migraine before the pain onset.
There are many physical factors that may contribute towards migraine, and along-side providing you with lifestyle advice, this is where we can really shine in helping get you back to feeling better!
There are many other triggers, and one of the largest is LACK OF FOOD or eating foods high in the Glycaemic Index creating blood sugar spikes and dips. There is evidence mounting towards using a low GI (Glycaemic Index) or GL (Glycaemic Load) diet as a way of minimising migraine onsets.
Sleep – this could be too little, or too much, there is even research suggesting that having that lie in or snoozing may onset that pesky migraine.
Mild dehydration can also predispose people to migraine onset. It is recommended that you should drink at least 8 x 250ml glasses of water (not including tea, coffee, and sugar free soft drinks). Many soft drinks have aspartame as a sweetener and this may be a large trigger of migraines. (Of course sugar loaded soft drinks are high on the Glycaemic Index so these should be minimised also!)
Excessive caffeine (more than 4-5 cups of coffee or tea per day) may trigger migraines, however remember that caffeine is found in more than just tea and coffee, other foods include:
Further factors include hormones, sudden excessive exercise (conversely gentle exercise may be good for them, let alone the other benefits it has), oral contraceptives and drugs. This is not a conclusive list, there are more.
So what are the top 5 tips?
BASH: British Association for Study of Headaches. www.bash.org.uk
National Sleep Foundation. www.sleepfoundation.org
The Migraine Trust. Common triggers. www.migrainetrust.org