Migraines & Gluten: Are They Connected?

Posted on May 20, 2014 7:00:00 AM by Migraine Relief Center

In the dynamic world of diet fads, gluten-free is the buzzword for 2014. Alas, gluten-free diets are not really designed for weight loss, and people who do not suffer from celiac disease should not attempt cutting off important food products just because they wish to avoid gluten. However, migraine patients who also deal with gluten sensitivity or celiac disease will certainly benefit from gluten-free nutritional habits.

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Understanding Gluten

Gluten is a protein composite that is naturally found on barley, rye and wheat. Gluten has two special properties of particular interest to the food industry: elasticity and chewiness; as a result, gluten is added to many breads, cake flours, beers, seasoning sauces, ice creams and even imitation meats used to prepare vegetarian dishes.

In addition to food products, gluten can also be found in some cosmetics and skin lotions.

Gluten Sensitivity and Celiac Disease

It is estimated that about one percent of the population in the developed world suffers from intolerance to gluten, which is often incorrectly referred to as an allergy. Gluten sensitivity is a condition that causes unpleasant bowel disorders when the protein composite is consumed. This sensitivity is sometimes classified as a neuropathy that may exacerbate migraine conditions under some circumstances.

Celiac disease is a condition that affects people who are believed to be genetically susceptible to suffer negative reactions to gluten. Symptoms of this small intestine disorder include loose stool, weight loss, stomach discomfort, bloating, mouth ulcers and dermatitis.

The level of intolerance among those who are sensitive to gluten or who suffer from celiac disease tends to vary far and wide. Some patients are able to eat cracked wheat or drink beer brewed with malted barley and only feel slight discomfort. Patients who are very sensitive can develop contact dermatitis after applying makeup that includes gluten as an ingredient.

Gluten Sensitivity and Migraines

Nutritional triggers are common among many patients who suffer from migraine conditions. Liquor, dairy products, caffeine, chocolate, and sugar are some of the food products commonly identified as being potential migraine triggers.

Gluten intolerant patients who also suffer from migraines should be very careful about their daily food intake. Research studies have found that migraine patients are more likely to experience some level of gluten intolerance.

The simple rationale that ties gluten sensitivity to migraines is based on discomfort and stress. Migraines are believed to be part of a neurochemical imbalance that is often exacerbated by discomfort. When sensitive patients consume gluten, the unpleasant gastrointestinal reaction can easily trigger a migraine episode.

Gluten-free diets can certainly help migraine patients achieve higher quality of life. Migraine patients who are not aware of their gluten intolerance are often surprised at just how much relief they get from a gluten-free diet. Proper nutrition is a key component of migraine management and prevention; to this end, patients should ask their doctors about laboratory tests that can detect food allergies and sensitivity.

*Image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

Topics: Migraine