Breaking: Cause Of Migraines May Be Salt
Written by: Kat Gal
Breaking: Cause Of Migraines May Be Salt
“Honey, not tonight, I have a headache.”
If you are dealing with migraines, you know that this is not just a lame excuse, but a very legit reason for having to get out of any work, school, personal obligation or fun activity. A migraine can literally take away hours or even days from your life.
Migraines are real, but you can fight them by learning your triggers and making lifestyle changes. They do not have to control your life.
What Is A Migraine?
Migraines affect 18% of women and 6% of men. They are a form of a headache with throbbing pain often on one side of the head accompanied by other symptoms, like an aura, nausea and mood changes. A migraine can last up to 72 hours, however, you may experience some symptoms leading up to and after your migraine attack.
One or two days before a migraine, you may experience one or a few of the following:
- Mood changes
- Food cravings
- Neck pain and stiffness
- Increased yawning
- Increased thirst and increased need to pee
Right before and during your migraine, you may experience an aura (visual disturbances sometimes paired with other sensory, movement and speech disturbances), but many people have migraines without aura.
During a migraine you may experience any of the following:
- Pain on one or both sides of your head
- Throbbing or pulsing pain
- Sensitivity to light, sound, smell and touch
- Blurred vision
Up to 24 hours post-migraine you may have the following symptoms:
- Sensitivity to light
- Sensitivity of sound
What Causes Migraines?
The clear cause of migraines is relatively unknown and may differ person to person. Keeping a migraine diary and working with a professional, you may be able to identify your triggers.
Triggers for your migraine may include:
- Hormonal changes, like menstruation
- Emotional triggers, including stress, depression, anxiety, shock and even excitement
- Physical causes, including poor posture, neck and shoulder tension, bad sleeping habits and jet lag
- Dietary causes, including alcohol, caffeine, chocolate, dairy, gluten, food sensitivities and allergies, dehydration, skipping meals and irregular eating patterns
- Certain medications may cause migraines and headaches as a side-effect
- Environmental triggers, including allergens, smoke, temperature and weather changes, strong smells and bright lights
In some cases, migraines can be a symptom for another health issue, so it is important to talk to your doctor to rule out any possibility of a serious disease, especially if your migraines are frequent or change patterns.
Can Your Sodium Intake Cause Migraines?
As you know, your diet can be a trigger for your migraines – and it may be your sodium intake.
Sodium plays an important role in your brain chemistry.
A recent exploratory study has found that migraine sufferers have significantly higher sodium concentrations in their cerebrospinal fluid than those without migraines. Participants were asked to fill out a survey regarding their experiences with migraines (length, frequency, intensity, presence of auras) then underwent a cerebral sodium MRI to compare their sodium levels to non-migraine participants.
According to the results, sodium concentrations were the same in the gray and white matter, cerebellum and brain stem for the two groups, but sodium concentrations in the cerebrospinal fluid were significantly higher in the migraine group. This fluid that surrounds your brain and spinal cord provides a cushion for your brain and plays an important role in proper brain function.
Should You Reduce Your Sodium Intake If You Have Migraines?
This is only an exploratory study prompting further research and validation. It is not yet known that a low sodium diet can help migraines.
However, too much sodium in your diet can increase your blood pressure and your risk of stroke, heart failure, osteoporosis, kidney disease and stomach ulcers.
If your diet is high in sodium, your health may benefit from lowering your sodium intake. Keeping a headache diary can help you see if reducing your sodium intake has an impact on your migraines.
How Do I Know If I Am Eating Too Much Sodium?
If you are eating lots of processed and salty foods, chances are, you have too much sodium in your diet. Tracking your nutrition intake, however, provides a much better indication and guidance for change.
You may track your diet for a week or two in chronometer, checking your approximate sodium intake. According to the FDA, 2,300 milligrams is the upper safe limit for sodium intake. This is not a recommended amount, but an upper limit. For some people, limiting sodium to no more than 1,500 milligrams is the recommended option. Most Americans consume more than 3,500 milligrams a day.
If it looks like your intake of sodium is too high, you can start making adjustments accordingly by eliminating high sodium foods and swapping them for better options. As you are making your changes, you can track your daily diet to make sure your sodium-range is in the safe zone.
What Foods Are High In Sodium?
Generally speaking, processed foods, canned products, condiments, cheesy and meat-based dishes and fast food are often very high in sodium. Some high sodium foods include soups, cold cuts and cured meat, pizza, yeast bread, savory snacks, cheese, eggs, omelettes, bacon, sausages, tomato-based condiments, meat mixed dishes, salad dressings, dips, single code sandwiches, plain milk, potato mixtures, french fries, fish and even cakes.
How Can You Reduce Sodium In Your Diet?
- Follow a generally healthy and whole foods diet. Avoid processed foods and fast food as much as possible. Eat lots of greens, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, grains, pseudo grains, legumes and beans. If you eat animal products, choose organic, free-range and the least processed variety (eg. instead of lunch meat, choose fresh meat to cook yourself).
- Avoid condiments that are high in sodium. Make your own dressings, sauces and dips with natural options, including avocados, coconut oil, EVOO, tahini, lemon and more. Start making your own pasta sauce with fresh tomatoes instead of relying on cans and jars from the store.
- Read nutrition labels. If you are buying packaged products, read the nutrition labels. Even organic and natural boxed foods can be high in sodium.
- Pay attention when eating out. Words like soy sauce, teriyaki, miso, cured, pickled, smoked, brined, barbecued, au jus, and broth should raise your suspicions.
How Can Organifi Help?
Organifi products are not only organic and high in nutrients, but are low in sodium. One serving of Organifi Green Juice, for example, only has 15 milligrams (<1% DVA) of sodium in it. Drinking this highly nutritious drink every day can refresh your body and reduce your cravings for high-sodium processed junk food. It can also hydrate and revitalize your cells, boost your immune function, support your mental clarity, naturally balance your hormones, detoxify your body and reduce stress.
Though it is unclear if a low-sodium diet can help your migraines, in most cases dietary changes like eliminating processed junk food and switching to a high-plant, organic and whole foods diet abundant in nutrients can have a significant impact on your health and can reduce or even eliminate your migraines.
You can only win by filling your body with lots of plants, whole foods and Organifi.
What changes have you made this year that benefited your health? What changes are you committed to for the next week, next month, next year and the rest of your life? Sharing your goals and steps can help you stick with a healthier lifestyle, so please, share away. We always love hearing from you, celebrating your successes and supporting your steps along your journey.
And remember, we’re in this together.
Kat Gál is a multi-passionate writer, world traveler, nomad, runner, and cat-person. She is a lifelong learner who lives outside of her comfort zones stretching her boundaries and discovering beauty around the world. She is a Certified Holistic Health and Life Coach who encourages others to embrace their unique authentic selves, follow their heart and find their own version of freedom in life.
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