Under the Hood

Here’s How A Piece Of Bread Could Lead To Migraine

Migraine affects millions of people around the world. In the U.S., nearly one in every four households has someone suffering from the condition. 

People with migraine normally report extreme headache. But in some cases, it may also involve nausea, vomiting, light sensitivity and dizziness.

Numerous factors have been linked to migraine. It may occur due to environmental factors, hormones, genes and consumption of certain foods.

But one surprising reason people experience extreme headache is eating bread. That is because of the presence of gluten, a protein commonly found in wheat, rye and barley.

There are several ways bread triggers migraine. The gluten in bread can be bad for people with celiac disease, a digestive disorder caused by an allergy to the protein. 

In people with celiac disease, the immune system releases the antibody called transglutaminase (TG) 2 serum to attack the protein. This response also damages healthy tissues and causes an inflammatory reaction that harms other healthy organs, including the brain, according to Lauren Green, clinical assistant professor of neurology at the University of Southern California.

Gluten could also cause migraine in people without celiac disease. Headaches occur when the protein taps the trigeminovascular pathway (TVP).

TVP includes nerves that control sensation in the face, biting and chewing. When gluten activates these nerves, TVP may produce more of the protein called calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP), which has been linked to migraines.

CGRP causes dilation of blood vessels in the meninges around the brain. The dilation then leads to leaked water and proteins in the surrounding layer of the brain, which causes swelling and irritation. 

“The swelling activates the trigeminal nerves which relay messages to other regions of the brain, including the thalamus which creates the perception of pain that is associated with a migraine,” Green said in an article posted on The Conversation

Migraine may start within 15 minutes after exposure to gluten. Green added both people with celiac disease and those without the condition could benefit from removing foods with gluten from their diet. 

It may help reduce their risk of inflammatory response that negatively affect nerves and trigger pain. However, she noted the people who are not gluten sensitive should try experimenting diets before completely getting rid of the protein. 

Bread The gluten in bread can be bad for people with celiac disease, a digestive disorder caused by an allergy to the protein. Pixabay

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