Research shows that many migraineurs have much higher level of bacteria is involved in processing nitrates in their gut, and this could be the reason why some foods act as migraine triggers.
These findings are important and raise possibility that sometimes migraines may be triggered when nitrates in the food are being broken down in a more efficient way, the blood vessels in scalp and brain dilate.
Actually, all those who suffer from migraine have a completely different mix of gut bacteria, so they can be more sensitive to certain foods.
This study tries to explain the reasons for some people being more susceptible to frequent migraine headaches and why they get them soon after they eat certain foods.
This research also showed that migraineurs had much higher levels of bacteria that are responsible for processing nitrates, which is typically found in leafy vegetables, processed meats, and some wines.
The latest findings raise the possibility that migraines could be triggered when nitrates in food are broken down more efficiently, causing vessels in the brain and scalp to dilate.
Mark Gonzalez, a senior programmer analyst at the University of California San Diego, and this study’s first author, said: “This studies initial finding throws light on certain foods acting as migraine triggers-wine, chocolate and especially foods containing lots of nitrates. We thought that perhaps there is a connection between what people are eating, their microbiomes and the way they experience migraines.
The Triggering Process
When bacteria present in the mouth and the gut breaks down the nitrates in the food, they are eventually into nitric oxide that flows in the blood stream. This chemical and dilate blood vessels and can improve cardiovascular health by improving circulation.
However, around eight in ten cardiac patients who regularly take drugs rich in nitrates for heart failure or chest pain report severe headaches as a side effect.
Dr Davies Brendan, a senior consultant neurologist at the University Hospitals of North Midlands and also a trustee of the Migraine Trust, feels that idea of gut bacteria triggering migraines was medically plausible. “There’s a phenomenon called Hot Dog Headaches, where mostly nitrates act as triggers,” he said. “This is definitely an interesting work, but needs some more study to be confirmed.”
A detailed study, published in 2016 in the journal mSystems, sequenced bacteria found in 168 oral samples and 1,866 faecal samples from healthy participants, who’ve also reported that they suffer from migraines.
When both oral and faecal samples were tested, it was found that people with migraines had much higher levels of bacteria linked to breaking up nitrates.
Around one in ten people in the US suffer from migraines, with majority of them getting an attack more than once in a month, and half of them are severely affected when their migraine symptoms set in. Some of these symptoms are nausea, throbbing headache, and lethargy. Some may also experience some kind of visual aura, which is actually in the form of shimmering light in the peripheral vision.
Lack of sleep, stress and diet are all migraine triggers and some hormones also play a role-migraine affects three times as many women as men.
In some cases, chocolate is a big trigger, but past research shows that often people carve sweet food only during the preparatory phase before actual symptoms have started. That’s when you want to eat some chocolate because you’re about to get an attack, rather than chocolate being the trigger.