Chronic headaches and migraines have long stumped researchers, and while the jury is still out on this one, new research suggests our blood-sugar levels may have a lot to answer for on this front. Here’s what we know.
Headaches are one of the most widespread afflictions that many brush off as something insignificant. But for nearly 1 in 5 in Australia, chronic pain from this symptom is devastating to their physical and mental health, with many reporting it interferes with their work and social lives. Nearly 7 million Australians reportedly suffer from tension headaches and 5 million have chronic migraines. Could the nation’s sugar addiction have something to do with those numbers? Recent research from the Human Genetics journal suggests there may be a link.
The research identified links between genetics, blood-sugar related diseases like diabetes and headaches. What they found was that those with these blood-sugar conditions were more likely to develop migraines and headaches.
A new study, published in the journal Human Genetics, analyzed data from hundreds of thousands of human genomes from individuals with and without a history of migraine or headache. The plus side here is that researchers may soon be able to create screenings for those at high risk of chronic headaches and help treat or prevent the condition before symptoms even show up.
While this may be new information around the link between blood-sugar diseases and chronic headaches, there is existing research around the link between headaches and high-blood sugar in general, whether that be in the context of a disease or in the context of a short-term spike in blood sugars. High blood sugar levels can cause chronic headaches through a number of mechanisms. One of the primary ways is through the development of diabetes, which can cause damage to blood vessels and nerves in the body over time, raising our risk for chronic headaches.
High blood-sugar levels can also cause inflammation in the body, which can contribute to headaches. When blood sugar levels are high, the body produces more free radicals, which can damage cells and tissues and trigger inflammation. Another way that high blood sugar levels can cause headaches is by affecting the balance of hormones and neurotransmitters in the brain. For example, high levels of glucose in the blood can disrupt the production and function of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that plays a key role in regulating mood and pain perception – this disruption can lead to headaches.
One of the best ways to prevent high blood-sugars is to consume a wholefoods diet rich in nutritious foods like legumes, vegetables, fruit and nuts. Avoiding ultra-processed foods will also make you less likely to experience a spike in blood-sugars – these foods tend to be overloaded with sugar and lacking nutrients like fibre that slow the absorption of sugar in the bloodstream.
Need a little help getting off the sweet stuff? Join us for the 8-Week Program and we’ll help you change the way you look at food – and that doesn’t mean you have to follow restrictive diets or miss out on your favourite foods; we believe you can still enjoy delicious food without jeopardising your health. You might even consider gifting your mum with the program! With celebrity chef Sarah Glover on our panel of experts, you’ll have an array of fun recipes at your fingertips, along with our own exclusive armoury of simple, tasty and healthy recipes for everything from daily meals to impressive entertaining. We know it can be hard to stick to your health goals – especially when you’re trying to manage it alone. When you sign up with us, you’ll have access to clear-cut meal plans, community support and exclusive access to our sugar-free content. Here’s what’s on offer:
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