The keto diet is the best body-hack that I have found for migraine relief.
I think of food as my medicine and choose to eat low-carb to maintain mind and body balance.
Though the mechanism is still not understood, research on keto diet migraine relief is part of a larger look at the benefits of ketones on brain function as well as a whole host of other ailments .
Like many people, I have found that a keto diet not only gives me migraine relief, but it lowers my stress, increases my energy and allows me to live my life much more fully. As a bonus, when I am in ketosis, I lose body fat. Thus, it’s a win-win-win!
The keto diet and migraine relief
With fat fueled weight loss, I found energy, focus and migraine relief
On a ketogenic diet, the body is “forced” to use fat for fuel by restricting the daily carbohydrate (sugar) intake. In a low-carb state, the liver breaks down fat for energy instead of glucose. The liver produces ketones from fat. Therefore, ketones become the main fuel for the body. They can cross the blood brain barrier to provide energy and are known to help quiet the brain.
16 years ago, I followed the Atkins Diet specifically for weight loss. The Atkins diet is similar to the Ketogenic diet in that it focuses on low-carb foods and ketone production. I lost over forty pounds and stayed committed to low-carb eating.
Over the course of two years, I noticed a significant reduction in the number of migraine headaches. I wondered if there was a link between the keto diet and migraine relief.
Initially, I found very little research specifically on the relationship between migraine and diet. But, I did find that the keto diet is nothing new.
In the 1920’s, before the advent of anticonvulsant medications, the ketogenic diet was popularized for the treatment of patients with epilepsy. The diet followed the principle that food is medicine.
As I researched further, I found studies that showed a relationship between migraine headache and seizures. Many articles pointed to the benefits of a ketogenic diet for the reduction of seizure activity. So, if eating the right foods works well to control seizures, it has to be doing something to help prevent migraine, right?
In 2009, one researcher in Rome started to ask the same question. Cherubino di Lorenzo conducted research to prove that people with a history of migraine found relief with a keto diet. Several theories emerged from his research, but one idea I found interesting is that ketones may simply provide more energy to the brain and allow it to function more efficiently.
Looking for the link between the keto diet and migraine relief
In 2013, The European Journal of Clinical Nutrition published a literature review of the benefits of ketogenic diets . It sited not only the ketogenic diet’s use in weight loss but also its benefits for treating medication resistant epilepsy, type II diabetes, cancer and certain neurophysiologic imbalances.
Right now, there is research looking into the benefits of a ketogenic diet on enhancing cognitive function, stabilizing blood sugar and decreasing inflammation. Some studies indicate that ketones produced from Omega 3 fatty acids may reduce cognitive deterioration in old age. [Freemantle,E. et.al, “Omega-3 fatty acids, energy substrates, and brain functioning in aging”(2006) Prostaglandins, Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids.75(3):213-20.]
The keto diet is being studied as a therapeutic treatment for Alzheimer’s disease as well.