National Migraine Centre
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Which diet?

Which diet? I am looking to see if food might be a major factor in my migraines. But there doesn't seem to be an absolute agreement on what the ideal anti-migraine looks like. The two approaches that seem to offer the best hope are firstly the Stanton Protocol which seems similar to paleo style diet advocated by people like Josh Turknett and considers the problem to be related primarily to glucose and misfiring neurons. hormonesmatter.com/migraine...

The second is published by the Physicians Committee for responsible medicine pcrm.org/health/health-topi... which includes a list of "pain safe foods" and a top 10 of most likely migraine triggers.

Although there is some overlap they do differ in a few respects: the pcrm site says avoid meat, fish, dairy and eggs as they are some of the most reported triggers which clearly conflicts with the paleo diets widespread use of animal products. It also says that a few fruits are ok - cherries, pears for instance - but only what looks like berries on the picture relating to the Stanton Protocol - I don't have a list - but you have to get lots of minerals like magnesium, potassium, sodium and calcium to balance your electrolyte system.

For me eating meat and fish would be difficult as I've been vegetarian for years. If the PCRM site is correct (and as many other health sites have pointed out too) eating ANY animal food is not healthy for a number of reasons.

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Hi Ruefreedom, I live in Canada - I went to see a naturopath and followed an elimination diet for 4 weeks. They then did a muscle strength test. My triggers are soy, eggs, dairy, and on and on. Animals are fed soy, so thats a problem. Processed foods AR a nightmare. I have stopped vomiting due to the triptans. Good luck and persevere.

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Hello

We are all different and from what ive seen we all have our own triggers or symptoms! However after working with a functional nutrionialist i am following the paleo diet as well as taking many supplements. Its really surprising how many foods have sugar added until you start reading so back to real basics for me! Hope you find what works for you

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How have your headaches been on the paleo diet? Thanks in advance.

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Hi

With regret they have shown no improvement whilst on the paleo diet! I have now been recommended to follow a low histamine and oxalate diet which apparently gas had some success with children with abdominal migraines and my dr says she has had some success with some patients! Its worth a try 🤞🤞

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Yes, good luck with this one! I've read both books: Stanton Protocol I couldn't fathom how you had to dose with salt then eat a few pistachios! Turkets book suggests eliminating carbs and sugar, again very limiting and although I have considered trying it for a month say, I really don't know how I would manage it long term.

I have gone gluten free as I have 2 auto immune conditions and gluten is known to be inflammatory, I haven't found that hard, perhaps you could start there? Dairy is an allergen (lactose?) so again best avoided but you will then be really limiting yourself as a vegetarian? I've gone off broccoli since I read on this site that it can cause headaches......blimey it's a minefield.

Wishing you all the best and if you find any answers please post here ;-)

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Hi Ruefreedom,

I'm a Facebook member of both the Stanton Migraine Protocol and the Josh Turknett Facebook groups. The information that they give is interesting and gives us a lot to think about as migraine sufferers. However, as a Vegetarian, you would struggle with both diets, I believe. There is a lot of meat consumption and eating very few carbs. I have to say that so far, I have not noticed a difference in the amount of migraines that I suffer from or the intensity of them. However, with the Stanton protocol, I have had some success in avoiding headaches by balancing potassium with sodium and have stopped several headaches by following their advice (as advised in the book and in the Facebook group). The only problem with this diet is that it is very restrictive. I am thin already and so maintaining a good weight is a problem for me. The other problem is that it means I am very focused on food the whole time in what feels like an almost obsessive way. I love to cook and and to eat, and the thought of having to track everything that I eat is not something that I would want to do for the rest of my life. However, in the Stanton group, they are very clear that you have to adopt this way of eating for life. Many people in the groups report success with both diets (basically following a Ketogenic diet). I have seen a Nutritionist who said that she doesn't like diets that make broad generalisations for everyone. She believes that our bodies are very individual and that we need to find what is right for us through a process of testing various foods (e.g. eat a food for a few days and wait to see if you have a reaction to it over the next 3-4 days). Although this seems like a daunting process, I think that she may be right about each of us needing something that suits our particular needs (something that is not emphasised in either of the above groups). Good luck in your quest and in finding something that works for you. May you find some relief! All the best, Clydelle

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Hi

Thanks for all the replies. Clydelle I have tried cutting out individual items from diet - wheat, sugar, dairy, caffeine but it is inconclusive. That's why I'm looking to try a low sugar/low carbohydrate diet. Though we do react differently as individuals I have to try things that have worked for others that give me the best chance of benefitting. In response to how I will look to make up the loss in calories and not eating meat, as a vegeatarian I think nuts and seeds could make up the difference but I need to try. I'm only procrastinating at moment because I'm so used to eating foods considered healthy like oats, other wholegrains and fresh fruit. It will take a bit of adjusting.

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Hi Ruefreedom, I can understand completely why you want to give it a try and the low carb/low sugar diet has had great benefits for many in helping them with their migraines. Perhaps reading Angela Stanton's book might be a good next step, if you haven't done so already. Anything that can help to lessen the pain of this condition is got to be worth trying. Best of luck to you and please let us know if it helps.

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Yes I looked at the Facebook of Angela Stanton and will consider getting hold of her book. Certainly I will post on how it goes however I decide to do the diet. Cheers.

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I’ve been told to cut high levels tyramine from my diet which is found in lots of foods. It’s a struggle to know what to eat now but hopefully my food and migraine diary will help pinpoint certain foods that make me more ill in time. Different people seem to be sensitive to different things. Good luck finding your triggers!

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Started on the new diet and at first seemed promising but after about 12 days had really bad headache as bad as before and only taking a triptan stopped it getting worse. Did this mean the diet wasn't working? Or something else? I'd had a headache and slept badly the previous night and then had long journey as part of college course which is occasionally needed and I think that's what triggered it. But I don't think any of those things caused it. I think it's commonplace to say migraines are multifactorial and unfair to focus on food alone, although that doesn't mean food not a factor. I went back and re-read the first part of the Josh Turknett book where I'd forgotten the section where he uses the analogy of balloons taking you over a threshold that then triggers migraine. This was helpful as the migraine the other day made me feel down that I was going to have to take yet more things out of my diet. But what if it's the case that all the things we do and think add up to a migraine or not. Does this then mean simply reducing those foods to a level our bodies can cope with, rather than banning them - obviously different for all of us - and also depending on what others stressors are going on in our life at that moment. Maybe I intuitively knew this already but it has focused my attention on the wider factors much more than simply thinking in terms of diet triggers.

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I think you're in the right track, Rue. We all all different and in the Stanton group, individual needs, life events, lifestyle, food, stress are all considered. Sugar is the main devil as migraine food, which includes all glucose making foods as, sugar, maple syrup, molasses, carbs in alcohol, dairy, veges, nuts, grain. Grain and all sweetners are banned, but not veges, fruit, nuts, eggs, and dairy. Each person determines how much they can tolerated in carbs per day from dairy, fruit, veges etc. with help from Angela Stanton and her adminidtrstive assistants , who are available 24/7 to help anyone in migraine crisis. The support is mind blowing.

I am trying this diet because I am so impacted since age 5 and now in triptan rebound I will do anything to have my life back. I am now 66. There are vegetarians in the group who will help you. The protocol can be daunting with all the tracking and measuring but that can also become part of one's daily rhythm, moving towards a migraine free life. Can you imagine? I too love food and as an artist, cooking is an art of creation for me-- spontaneous and without recipes. I try to look at food as medicine now, as suggested in the group, and how to bring creatuve impulse to it in a new way. This method is a way to manage migraine without drugs or very limited drugs. Many many many have been cured by this way of eating and living. I wish you well and wonder how you are feeling now. 💙

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