There are some amazing diets that have been used for migraines and headaches including the oligoantigenic diet. But ketosis is an easier way to go about supporting our brain so that it can repair and stop triggering headaches. In this article, I will be discussing 3 amazing reasons to go into ketosis with the ketogenic diet for migraines.
What are the ketogenic diet, ketosis
The ketogenic diet is a diet that makes the body enter into ketosis where it begins relying on ketones(fat) for energy more than sugar/glucose.
This is done through a ketogenic style diet which focuses primarily on fats and proteins as well as low to no sugar vegetables.
The break down will generally end up being under 5% of your total food containing carbohydrates.
The foods to largely avoid
Starchy vegetables like potatoes, roots
High sugar fruit over the daily amount
Processed and packaged foods
It is important to dispel the myth that Fat = heart disease
This was a highly marketed tactic used by the food industry to sell low fat and
What you do want to do is avoid rancid fats, excessive PUFAs
Eat your foods whole like nature created them. Every single cell and neuron in our body and brain is made of fat and requires fat. All of our sex and stress hormones are made from cholesterol, we need it.
Why is ketosis so beneficial for the brain and specifically the migraine brain?
A study with migraine sufferers put on the ketogenic diet found that 90% of them had a reduction in the frequency of their migraines.
Ketogenic diets have been used for over a century to treat patients with epilepsy because of its effect on the brain. Epilepsy is closely related to migraine with aura. New research is starting to find that ketogenic diets are useful for more than just migraine and epilepsy but also things like cancer.
Reason #1 Ketones feed the brain
Ketones are an essential fuel for the brain we have relied on since the very beginning of our evolution.
Our liver stores sugar/glucose so that it can maintain a smooth supply to the brain but it can only do this for about 24 hours in a healthy individual. After 24 hours the reserve is depleted and the body has to switch over.
It begins taking the fat we have in our body and breaking it down into ketones which then circulate in the blood that
Ketones have been found to reduce glutamate levels which is one of the main neurotransmitters implicated in migraines. They have also been found to reduce oxidative stress which is the one common connection behind all migraines.
Reason #2 Ketogenic diets balance blood sugar
One of the most important benefits from my perspective coaching those with migraines is that the ketogenic diet balances blood sugar.
It may also allow you to go longer between meals with less strain on your blood sugar levels.
As we know, skipping meals or fasting is the largest reported trigger of migraines partly because of how it affects our blood sugar levels.
In a normal and healthy
But in a metabolically compromised individual and especially those with migraines, missing a meal is a recipe for disaster partly because the transition from burning glucose/sugar to burning fat is enough of a strain on the body that it pushes us over our threshold.
Instead, on a ketogenic
Not only does it balance our blood sugar which takes a massive burden off of our brains, inflammation and hormones but it also helps fight obesity which is an independent risk factor for migraines.
See our video on ketones and migraines here:
Reason #3 Ketogenic diets done the right way remove many migraine triggers
A ketogenic diet is not only a great way to feed the brain ketones and balance our blood sugar but done right it is also perfect for removing trigger foods.
Some of the most common trigger foods that would or should be removed are:
When is the ketogenic diet not right for us?
As with any “
We need to understand that our bodies and migraines are individual to ourselves and this is the best way to go about fixing our pain.
Just because one migraine sufferer does great on a vegan or vegetarian diet
4 areas we want to figure out for ourselves with our own bodies and guided help are:
1. Depending on your genetic profile and if your ancestors are closer to the equator or from the colder more polar regions you may process fats differently. If your ancestors are from
2. The same applies
3. We also want to understand that fiber is an essential part of feeding our gut microbiome, the 100 trillion bacteria in our gut that keep us alive, feed us nutrients and help us function.
4. How strong is our keto flu?
The transition between eating regular often high carb meals and ketosis can be rough. This is why it is not advised to do it without guidance and to not do it abruptly.
The keto flu is what happens during the transition stages between carbohydrate and ketone metabolism. In a normal healthy
This is all part of the body “healing” as it readjusts to what it was evolutionarily always doing. We did not always have food available to us and especially not carbohydrates in such regular intervals like we do today.
But we have become largely dependant on carbohydrates and this has given us imbalances.
During this transition and into ketosis
Along with the loss of
And along with the drop in use of insulin because we are not spiking our blood sugar our body may also increase cortisol levels which may give us more energy and clarity but can give us issues if we have any kidney or gut problems to begin with so we always want to be careful.
How to do a ketogenic diet with migraines the right way
First and foremost we have to make sure we get assessed by a nutrition specialist to understand how our body will react to these changes and any precautions we need to take.
If you exercise you may want to supplement with creatine to help keep your muscles from burning glucose/sugar.
Slowly increase your fat intake from healthy animal sources like pastured,
Slowly increase your healthy
Supplement with MCT oil and coconut oil to help smooth out the transition because medium chain fats are broken down into energy quickly and easily.
Use fat sources like cold water fish, olive oil and nuts and seeds depending on what your body does well with.
Make sure to get high quality sleep to ease the transition and support your bodies detoxification as any weight and fat-trapped toxins get released.
Use foods like
While transitioning use
Always rotate any specific diet as your body does not fit into any dietary mold and your needs are your own. Going out of ketosis and onto carbohydrates may be beneficial temporarily especially for hormones and is often done through cyclic ketogenic diets.
Continue avoiding any known trigger foods as your gut and immune tolerance is specific to you and making sure you stick to whole foods will ensure the best results. Avoid highly processed and packaged foods as their chances of containing rancid/oxidized fats are high.
By following these simple principles and guidelines such as those in the food triggers guide you will have the best chance at achieving a successful ketogenic diet, transitioning to ketosis and feeding your brain with what it needs to stabilize and heal.
For more information on food and migraine see our Food Triggers Guide here.
Do you have experience with the ketogenic diet and migraines? Let me know.
Holistic Health Practitioner
Mark Canadic is a writer, speaker, holistic health practitioner and migraine community leader. Read Mark’s inspiring comeback story, “My Burnout and Brain Fires that Lead me to the Root.” Feel free to send Mark a message here.