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 (hyperglycemia) 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.
Blood Sugar and Your Body
Migraine headaches are a symptom of low blood sugar in some people. Normally, here is how the blood sugar system works in the body:
- You eat a meal. The foods in that meal are broken down by enzymes and the sugar in the food is then released into the blood. Your blood sugar rises from this.
- Your pancreas detects the rise in blood sugar and then produces insulin to bring the blood sugar level within the normal range (80 to 120 mg/dl).
- If your blood sugar level initially rises too high, the pancreas has to produce more insulin than what is normally needed. The result is that the blood sugar can drop to a low blood sugar zone. It will stay there until you eat again.
Make sure that the meal you eat doesn't have an abundance of high glycemic index foods. This can ensure that your blood sugar levels stay stable, protecting you from a migraine flare-up.
Low Blood Sugar Symptoms
When you eat a meal, your blood sugar level should stay within the normal zone for at least four hours. This means you should not be hungry, have cravings or feel fatigued for at least four hours. However, by incorporating high glycemic index foods, you can expect to be hungry as little as one hour later after completing your meal. The symptoms of low blood sugar may also accompany hunger. Here’s a list of those symptoms:
- Passing out.
- Slurred words.
- Inability to concentrate.
- Overly emotional.
- Food cravings.
- The need to eat anything in sight.
- No willpower.
- Psychotic symptoms.
High Blood Sugar Symptoms
Now that we have discussed the signs of low blood sugar, it is important to review signs of high blood sugar too, so you can be aware of which you are dealing with. Signs of high blood sugar levels include:
- Increased thirst.
- Blurred vision.
- Bladder urgency.
- Excess hunger.
- Numb or tingling limbs.
- Weight loss.
If you have any symptoms of low or high blood sugar, be sure to document them and share it with your doctor. This can can aid in improving their management process for your symptoms.
Blood Sugar and Migraines: What's the Connection?
It all comes down to blood glucose. Glucose is what gives your body energy after eating foods or sugar. Getting the recommended amount of sugar per day is necessary for optimal body function. According to the American Heart Association, it is advised that females consume 6 teaspoons per day while males should consume no more than 9 teaspoons. Any more or less can throw off your blood sugar levels, potentially resulting in a migraine, so it all comes down to what you eat and how often.
The key is to eat foods that won't cause blood sugar crashes. So, while you should avoid foods that are high in sugar, here are foods you should add more of:
- Complex carbs, like fruit, vegetables and whole grains.
- Lean meats.
- Healthy fats, such as avocadoes.
On top of this, you might want to look into an anti-inflammatory diet for migraines.
Avoid Skipping Meals
If migraine headaches are caused by low blood sugar, the answer is meal planning, not a pharmaceutical drug. Meal planning allows you to keep her blood sugar levels stable all day long and avoid getting a migraine.
Where the idea came from that people can go without eating breakfast is unknown. The fact is that your human physiology is made to run on small frequent meals during the day over a 10 to 12 hour period of time, with the exception of when you are fasting. Trying to buck the system by skipping meals creates erratic patterns that increase the stress in the body.
If you are eating meals erratically and have migraine headaches, try eating regular meals for a month. Keep a journal of how many migraine headaches you get. I know you will be amazed at what you learn during this month!