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HeadWay, Issue #120 -- Sugar and Your Headaches
July 21, 2014

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In this issue:

Sugar and Your Headaches

The Glycemic Index: How Can I Use It?

Say what?!  Glycemic

Sugar and Your Headaches

Is sugar causing your headaches?  Are blood sugar levels key to ending headache pain?  If so, how can we use the new science about sugar to end the pain?

Many people are finding that controlling their blood sugar makes a drastic difference in their headache and migraine symptoms.  But at this point the science isn't pointing to sugar as a cause of headache disorders.  Instead, it could be that changes in blood sugar are triggering symptoms in people who are already predisposed to certain headache disorders.

Over the past 5 years, research has given us more clues that there is a strong connection.  For example, a study in 2009 showed that migraine patients were more likely to have biological problems with insulin production - in this case, hyperinsulinemia (hyperinsulinaemia).

Researchers are watching the complex relationship of insulin, glucose (blood sugar) and nitric oxide.  And there are some problems with the function of the whole system in some patients with headache disorders.

There's another very simple connection that we can see when it comes to migraine.  Migraine patients are very sensitive to changes, both in the body and in the environment.  This means that sudden spikes or drops in blood sugar could trigger symptoms.

Some have found that cutting out refined sugar and flours makes a huge difference in their symptoms.  But many headache patients are looking to the Glycemic Index to help them make better food choices.  This is the same method that many with type 2 diabetes use.

The glycemic index, or GI, measures how quickly blood sugar levels rise after eating certain foods.

Last year in Italy, an International Scientific Consensus Summit met to discuss research on the GI and health.  They concluded that the GI was helping people - and not just those with diabetes.  There are a number of general health benefits.

Not only may a low GI diet help stomp out headache symptoms, it may also fight weight loss and heart disease.  The link between migraine and heart disease is well known, and the insulin/blood sugar connection may help us understand why.

If you struggle with headaches, click the links and read on for more information about sugar and the glycemic index.

More on current research:

The Glycemic Index: How Can I Use It?

Most of us are afraid of complicated diets with numbers to memorize and portions to weigh.  But learning to eat a low GI diet doesn't have to be complicated.

First, there are some very simple principles you can learn right now.  Dr. Susan B. Roberts, Professor of Nutrition and Professor of Psychiatry at Tufts University and author of The "I" Diet, puts it this way in the article above:
... you don't need to keep a lot of numbers in your head.  Just remember that refined and finely ground cereals and starches, which are digested relatively quickly, usually have a substantially higher GI value than coarsely milled and whole cereal grains, nuts, fruits, legumes and non-starchy vegetables.
Remember, eating a white hamburger bun is like drinking juice is like eating a candy bar.  They will all make your blood sugar spike.

If you want to learn more about specific foods and actually see the numbers, you can get a great free overview right here:  Revised International Table of Glycemic Index (GI) and Glycemic Load (GL) Values

Finally, if you want to really understand how blood sugar works and get really motivated to balance your body sugar-wise, try the highly-rated The Sugar Blockers Diet by Rob Thompson from Prevention Magazine.

Say what?!  Glycemic

Glycemic, glycemia... what does it all mean?  Glycemic simply refers to blood sugar.  That is, glucose in the blood.  Both glycemic and glucose come from the greek word glukis, meaning sweet.  Glucose is known as a sugar, a carbohydrate, and a monosaccharide.

Thanks for reading!  Remember, if you have feedback or ideas for future issues, visit the HeadWay MailRoom.  Your password is nomoache.
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