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Migraine and Food Intolerance

Many people know that migraines may be triggered by a reaction to "something" in the diet. But most people think no further than cheese, red wine and chocolate, which is far from the whole story.

Several other foods have been implicated and confirmed by a scientific study reported in the well-respected Lancet medical journal.

The list of the most common dietary triggers would probably come as quite a surprise containing many foods that are considered wholesome and nutritious, which they are unless they happen to trigger your migraine! But even the list in that study is not the whole story because I can further point you to a chart listing over 30 different foods that have been found, in three different studies, to have triggered migraine.

So if you suffer from migraines (and in fact if you suffer from other chronic complaints) that haven't responded to conventional approaches it's well worth considering whether the problem is caused by something in your diet.

If you've tried giving up chocolate, red wine and cheese, and found no relief, it doesn't mean that your migraines are not dietary in origin. We've just seen that there are at least 30 other possibilities.

Furthermore, often a migraine will break through when a threshold of triggers has been breached. Taking the simplest of cases, eating chocolate one day and cheese the next may be absolutely fine. But sometime later, you eat cheese with your red wine, and bam! There's one horrendous migraine. Not from either one substance, but from the accumulated effect of them both. Add to this possible duo the potential effects of combining thirty other foods and you can appreciate the scale of the problem.

So although food intolerance could quite easily be causing your migraines how do you find out for sure, and how do you pinpoint the culprit foods?

The "gold standard" test for food intolerances is to eliminate the food from the diet, observe your symptoms, then reintroduce the food and see what happens. However, with even just 30 foods to consider, not to mention the derivatives found in our modern diet, this approach is time-consuming and hard to comply with. If you check some food labels to see how often wheat is a hidden ingredient, you'll begin to get a feel for the scale of the problem.

Cytotoxic testing is simpler but the test requires a blood sample taken by a qualified phlebotomist and even so, there are those who claim it is open to human error.

A better method is the ELISA (enzyme linked immuno-sorbent assay) test, which detects circulating antibodies that bind with purified food antigens. This test only requires a pin-prick of blood, so it can be done at home, and is scientifically based, specific and accurate. Using one tiny sample of blood, automated methods can test a wide range of foods.

Even this has a drawback in that while 45% of the population may be food intolerant, 55% are not so would get a negative result.

Although the test is good value for the 45% who successfully identify their problem as a food intolerance, it could be considered expensive for the 55% who merely found they had no intolerances and were left still needing to pursue other lines of investigation.

Luckily an inexpensive indicator test was developed and can determine whether a patient does actually have food intolerances, but not what the problem foods are. However, knowing that food intolerance is a problem, clients can decide whether to keep costs down with a DIY approach to identifying problem foods, or they may decide to purchase one of a range of further tests to discover offending foods.

A survey, commissioned by the British Allergy Foundation and audited in a UK university, followed up patients who had undertaken a blood test that detected food intolerances. 42% (3211) responded to the survey and of these 79% had benefited from a significant improvement in their symptoms. Over 70% were still benefiting from an improvement in their health when contacted again 12 months later. This was probably because pressure was reduced on the immune system as the offending foods were excluded from the diet.

Muriel Simmons, Chief Executive of the British Allergy Foundation, says "The evidence for this type of food testing is simply too strong to ignore".

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But first before going to any such expense it makes sense to try a simple dietary exclusion program. And there's no better way to start than by discovering which are the most common foods implicated in migraine. Subscribe to a free mini-course to find out more at: Stop The Migraine Madness

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