Under the Hood

Can The Keto Diet Help Alleviate Migraine Symptoms?

There is this theory that the ketogenic diet or keto diet can actually alleviate migraine and its symptoms. But is there scientific evidence to back this?

A migraine is a neurological condition characterized by severe throbbing pain typically on one side of the head. Aside from debilitating headaches, it also comes with other symptoms such as nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light and sound, according to Mayo Clinic.

On the other hand, the ketogenic diet is defined as a diet that is rich in fats, low in carbohydrates and has moderate proteins. Followers of this diet drastically lower their consumption of carbohydrates in favor of fat so that their body can reach the metabolic state known as ketosis, as per WebMD.

Apart from weight loss, the keto diet also offers other health benefits. One of them is managing epilepsy and preventing other brain disorders. As such, some believe that this eating plan can also address migraines.

To better understand its possible effect against migraines, one should first grasp what the keto diet does to the body when it enters ketosis. According to Healthline, when the body reaches this metabolic state, blood ketone levels soar above the normal range.

Ketone bodies are chemicals that the body produces when there is insufficient amount of insulin in the blood. Apparently, the body breaks down fat instead of glucose from carbs for energy in this state. Acetone, acetoacetate and beta-hydroxybutyrate are the three ketone bodies that the body makes on the keto diet, per MedicineNet.

Certain studies have found that the ketone bodies produced on a keto diet can restore brain excitability and energy metabolism, preventing brain inflammation in people suffering with migraines. The exact mechanism remains unclear, but scientists contend that the keto diet can alleviate migraine and its symptoms.

A 2015 study found that women who followed the ketogenic diet for a month experienced less frequency of migraines than those who didn’t follow the diet. This was noted on top of the finding that the women who followed the keto diet had significant weight loss.

To determine whether the reduction in migraine frequency was due to weight loss from the keto diet, the researchers conducted a follow-up study. This time they compared the average migraine frequency between people who lost weight through the keto diet and those who shed pounds using a non-keto diet. They found that those on the keto diet experienced less migraine attacks compared to those who were on a different diet.

Although it may seem that the keto diet can really alleviate migraine, experts said more research is needed before they could come up with a conclusion on this matter.

Migraine Migraines or recurrent headaches can cause severe pain, sensitivity to light and nausea. Hermes Rivera/Unsplash

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