Why Do Carbs Give Me Headaches?

During this time, he added, brain imaging studies have shown that the hypothalamus, a region of the brain that regulates hunger, is activated, causing people to want — and eat — certain foods. “It is pretty clear that this area is changing in its activity before the pain starts,” he said. People reach for carbohydrate-rich, highly palatable foods in response to their pain. But the exact food they choose varies from one person to another. Dr. Goadsby stated that different people crave sweet or salty snacks and others crave chocolate and sweets.

Then, after they’ve indulged their craving and the headache phase of the migraine begins, it’s natural for people to wonder if something they ate contributed to the pain, Dr. Halker Singh said. “Sometimes people come in and tell me, ‘I had some chocolate, and soon after that, my migraine attack started,’” leading them to guess that the chocolate itself triggered the headache. But what also could have happened, she said, “is that maybe the craving for chocolate was actually the start of the migraine.”

Although chocolate is one of the most common triggers for migraines according to some reports, it is not the only one. review of studies published in the journal Nutrients in 2020, researchers concluded that there wasn’t enough evidence to say that chocolate can cause migraines. Dr. Goadsby stated that the person would likely have headaches regardless of whether they ate the chocolate. So if you’re craving a treat during the early stages of a headache, he said, it’s fine to enjoy it.

If you often get food cravings before migraine headaches, it’s still a good idea to take note of them, along with other prodrome phase symptoms, so you can prepare for what’s coming. Dr. Goadsby suggested that you might use this time to locate your migraine medication and choose to stay in bed for the night, rather than go out for drinks. “If people understand their disorder better, they can adjust what they’re going to do so they don’t set themselves up for a crash,” he said.

Margaret Slavin, an associate professor of nutrition and food studies at George Mason University, said that foods high in sugar or refined carbohydrates can also cause blood sugar to spike, leading to “an outsized insulin response.” Insulin helps normalize blood sugar, but too much insulin can overshoot the goal, leading to low blood sugar. This is called “low blood sugar”. reactive hypoglycemiaA headache is one of the symptoms.

Source: NY Times

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