There are many things migraine sufferers know well.
For instance, sometimes migraines seem to “come out of nowhere”.
At other times, it is one of the many “triggers” that sets them off, like caffeine, red sauce, wheat, cheese, chocolate and hot dogs.
Well, new research shows that weight can trigger migraines, too — both too much and too little. So is there a weight “sweet spot” that can help prevent migraines?
Body composition and migraine risk
A recent meta-analysis of 12 studies looked to evaluate the association between body composition (based on body mass index or BMI) and the risk of migraine. You can learn more about BMI with this BMI calculator. The study, published in the journal Neurology, included 288,981 individuals and found that those with frequent migraines are both over weight and underweight.
After adjusting for age and gender, over weight individuals (BMI of 30 or higher) had a 27% greater risk of migraine than those within normal BMI ranges. Individuals who were underweight (BMI of less than 18.5%) had a 13% greater risk of migraine than those within healthy BMI ranges.
While these researchers cannot point to a specific mechanism behind the association linking migraine to those with too much and too little weight, they do point to adipose (fat) tissue as a potential component. Of course that does not account for the underweight risk factor.
Migraine’s many causes
There are actually many causes for migraine and things that may explain this interesting analysis that there is a “sweet spot” (or normal BMI) for reducing risk of migraine. As a chronic migraine sufferer for most of my life (and chronic headaches being the reason I began my journal in holistic healing), I have identified several categories of triggers, including:
Weight – too much fat and too little, showing lifestyle as a major factor.
Stress – Causing constrained breathing, tight muscles, cramps, stress hormones
Sleep – Too much and too little causing changes in biochemical and fight or flight.
Diet – too little nutrient dense foods and too many trigger foods and beverages.
Toxins – from the environment (mold, mildew, fluorescent lighting, chemicals) and ingested via artificial sweeteners, food coloring, herbicides and pesticides, etc.
Oxygen deprivation – from stress, shallow breaths and sleeping with face in pillow or apnea.
Lifestyle is the major contributor. And while too much weight may place one at risk for migraine because of excess adipose tissue, per the review above, too low MBI can be associated with lack of nutrient dense diet or proper physical exercise, or simply mean that those with too low BMI may also be associated with high levels of stress and anxiety, which also trigger migraines.
Headache relief action plan
After years of suffering with chronic headache and migraine, and focusing my wellness education on chronic headaches and pain, I was able to develop a comprehensive “Headache Relief Action Plan.” This plan takes all migraine triggers into consideration as a group and in isolation, for best results. The important thing is to know that the solution to your daily suffering is grounded in the following five-part process:
Part 1: Educating yourself about the real causes and solutions for headaches and migraines
Part 2: Reducing the current level of painful symptoms you are experiencing
Part 3: Halting or significantly reducing the frequency and duration of your headaches
Part 4: Preventing the headaches from triggering to improve your quality of life
Part 5: Repairing the body to reduce the internal environment that allows for headaches
You can learn more about the many causes (triggers) of migraine and headache and begin following my prevention program in my new book, Headaches Relieved. It provides the background, the types and causes of headaches and migraines, the ways to prevent each type and trigger, and has a 30 day program to reset yourself to soon become headache and migraine free.
As we see from the meta-analysis above, there are many things that put you at risk for migraine. Who knew that being either overweight or underweight places you at risk? Well, there are other causes and solutions, too. But if you can change your eating and exercise habits to move up or down in BMI to get into the “sweet spot” for your height, you can begin reducing your migraine risk.