Sunday, January 9, 2011


(c) 2006, Kathy Fannon

So many seem to suffer from migraines these days. Like any other illness, sickness, or disease, many symptoms can be traced back to the foods we eat…or don't eat.

Often times I see Facebook statuses that complain of headaches and migraines, so I thought I'd dig around to see what foods and lifestyle choices could be causing them.

Do you eat any of the following foods in any amount? Try to eliminate them and see if you notice a difference (ALWAYS read labels!):
  • aluminum, arsenic (from pesticides and commercially grown chicken), aspartame/artificial sweeteners, brominated vegetable oil, cadmium, copper, iron, lead, MSG (includes anything autolyzed or hydrolyzed), mercury, nickel, soy protein isolate, yellow #5 (which is banned in some European countries!). (We do need some level of copper and iron, but be sure not to overdo it or it will become toxic.)

Dairy could also contribute to headaches. Eliminate all milk, cheese, yogurt and ice cream for two weeks and see how you feel. You should notice an improvement in your weight and energy as well. After two weeks, add dairy back into your diet. If you start to feel worse again, you may want to consider eliminating it permanently.

70% of our immune system starts in the intestines. The microflora in our gut runs our metabolism; our standard way of life messes up that flora. We have 10x more bacteria in our gut than we have cells in our body!

Stress is one of the ways where we can change micro-organisms along with not enough sleep, eating fast foods, high sugar foods, foods with chemicals, low fiber or processed foods, and drugs (which wipe out everything!).

Drugs for GERD (acid reflux) change acidity and they change the bacterial flora because they allow us to get what's called small intestine bacterial overgrowth and disbiosis.

How can you fix this?

  • Diet Change: Look at the way you eat. Eliminate chemical-laden foods or foods that are high in sugar or highly processed. Eat more foods that contain magnesium (leafy greens, almonds and cashews), and foods with rich pigments (like celery, grapes, tomatoes, peppers, oranges) which are high in bioflavanoids. Be sure you're getting enough whole-grain fiber as well, such as brown rice or quinoa.

  • Relieve Stress: Easier said than done, right? Find ways to relax during the day: take a few deep breaths with your eyes closed, get a massage or take a hot bath. Or maybe you need some serious stress relief in the form of a new job. The more I learn about stress and its adverse affects on the body, the stronger I urge clients to eliminate it as much as possible.

  • Rest: Be sure you're getting 7 - 8 hours of quality sleep each night. It's also helpful to go to bed at night and get up in the morning at the same times each day, establishing a consistent routine.

  • Drugs: Check your prescriptions or over-the-counter products. Drugs can eliminate the gut flora or block the nourishment you take in. If any nourishment gets blocked then almost any illness can happen: fibromyalgia, asthma, migraine headaches, arthritis or skin issues, etc is really digestive in nature. Be sure to get a good quality probiotic to take along with any drugs you may need to use. (Ask at your local health food store for probiotic suggestions.) Adding some Greek yogurt will also help with the gut flora.

  • Water: This is by far not the least! Many times we are dehydrated because of poor lifestyle choices. Too often we reach for pain-relief medication when we should be reaching for a big glass of water. A good rule to follow is half of your body weight in ounces every day. If you feel thirsty, you're already dehydrated. Remember, your body is made up of mostly water. If you're not rehydrating it, you'll feel tired, sluggish, and will get a headache! (It also helps to fuel your metabolism!)

  • Bonus: Find a fabulous chiropractor! It could be that your neck is out of whack and a good adjustment will be just the thing you need for relief. But use in conjunction with the above suggestions.

Have you suffered from migraines or headaches in the past? Have you found a healthy, natural way to ease them? Please share!

*Some of this information was taken from Dr. Elizabeth Lipski from her appearance on Dr. Richard Becker's show, "Your Health" on The Family Network. Be sure to check out Dr. Lipski's excellent book, "Digestive Wellness". Check your listings for "Your Health" if you're interested in holistic health from a Christian perspective.