Obesity increases migraines by 81 percent. Losing weight decreases migraine frequency.

What You Didn’t Know Was Giving You Migraines

In All Health Watch, Cognitive Health, Featured Article, General Health

Pulsing temples…throbbing head…nausea…sensitivity to light and sound… Migraines are an agonizing way to spend a day.

More than 37 million Americans  battle these symptoms on a regular basis.1 A full-blown migraine attack can leave you in bed for not only hours, but days.

Migraines happen when blood vessels swell on the surface of the brain and press on nerves.  That’s what causes the pain.

Most sufferers have a family history of headaches and migraines. However, simple things can trigger an attack… A change in your sleep pattern, skipping meals, the weather, and stress can all bring on that excruciating pain.

But there’s another migraine culprit you probably don’t know about. This one trigger increases your risk of getting migraines by over 80 percent.2

Have a headache or feel a migraine coming on? Skip the aspirin and reach for your partner. Sexual activity may help relieve severe headaches and stop a migraine in its tracks. During sex your body releases natural chemicals—dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin—that have both pleasure-enhancing and pain-relieving effects.

If you can control it, it will help not only your head, but your whole body.

Your waist size is your biggest risk factor. As it increases, so does the likelihood you’ll suffer from migraines. Johns Hopkins University studied nearly 4,000 adults and found that the obese ones have an 81 percent increased risk of migraines. If you’re obese and younger than 50, it’s 86 percent.

“It’s possible that being obese and having migraines activates shared neural pathways that lead to inflammation and ultimately pain,” says lead study author Lee Peterlin, D.O.

Fat tissue (adipose) creates inflammation based on how much tissue there is and where it is located. The more fat tissue, the more inflammatory substances in your system. Excess weight increases inflammation in the body by limiting blood flow.

A study in Neurology followed severely obese patients with a history of migraines.3 As their weight decreased so did their migraine frequency. Some by more than half.

How can you cut the weight and inflammation?

For starters, cut out all processed foods and grains, and limit your alcohol intake.4  Not only will this help trim your waistline, but these items are common migraine triggers. So eliminating them from your diet lowers your risk in two ways.

Exercise also helps. It burns that inflammation-causing fat. But remember, over-exercising will increase inflammation. So find a healthy medium.

Stay active. Eat smart. Exercise. And watch those migraines melt away. No, it’s not always easy. But it’s certainly worth it.

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1 http://www.headaches.org/education/Headache_Topic_Sheets/Migraine
2 http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/806930
3 http://www.headachemag.org/Articles/FitnessAndNutrition/Losing-Weight-Can-Decrease-Migraines
4 http://www.newsmaxhealth.com/health-news/obesity-migraines-weight-headaches/2013/06/26/id/511967