It’s known that Tom Brady and Gisele Bundchen follow a very strict diet: 20% protein, 80% vegetables, and rarely a tomato in sight. What Tom and Giselle avoid may be contributing to your intractable migraine.
The Immune System’s Problem with Tomatoes
Tom and Giselle avoid tomatoes (a more scientific explanation can be found here) because tomatoes contribute to systemic inflammation, as do many other members of the nightshade family. Eating them can contribute (or cause) a range of painful symptoms from joint pain and swelling to asthma, headaches, sinusitis, brain fog, digestive issues, and more.
Inflammation is your body’s way of fighting off disease, dangerous bacteria and infections. It’s why you get a fever when you’re sick, and redness around your mosquito bites. it usually doesn’t last long—just enough for your body to vanquish the intruder.
With systemic inflammation, however, your immune system is engaged throughout your body even when there isn’t an invader. We’re not saying eating a tomato will give you a fever. We’re saying that in some people, tomatoes and other foods may be triggering an immune response in the body. Instead of just digesting the food, moving it through and out of the body, it perceives it as a dangerous foreign agent and puts your whole body on high alert. Over time, this can create more problems, not to mention that once your body associates a certain food or chemical within the food with danger, it may always respond to it as the enemy—making it difficult for you to eat and perhaps even manage migraine pain.
Eliminate Systemic Inflammation, Eliminate Migraine Pain?
It is thought that inflammation may be an underlying cause of migraines. More research needs to be done to determine the exact nature of the link, but you don’t have to wait for that. You can begin running your own migraine triggers experiment today.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could take a drug targeted specifically to your genetic makeup and specific health needs, and not suffer the negative side effects? There is no magic pill, but you may be amazed at how significantly diet impacts your energy, sleep, mental clarity, mood, and pain levels.
To optimize your diet to boost these key areas of your health, try an elimination diet. That means that for (at least) 30 days, you will entirely avoid eating the foods that are most likely to be problematic. Eliminating them gives your body a chance to let down its defenses (reduce inflammation) and begin to heal. When you try them again 30 days later, will your body still recognize them as threats? Which ones? To what extent?
Everyone will find that some foods are better tolerated than others, and that some foods make you feel immediately bad. Some people will find that eliminating certain things from their diet made them feel like a new person. How do you know what to eliminate?
Your Personalized, Targeted Medicine
First, before you even go looking for the right program to follow, tattoo this to your computer screen: an elimination diet is NOT for weight loss. Don’t sign up for a shake plan or cleanse. Those are designed to lose weight, not reveal pain triggers. Once you’re done with the cleanse or shakes, you’re right back where you started. When you remove inflammatory foods, you will lose weight and, most importantly, reduce (and even eliminate) chronic pain.
There are numerous elimination diets to choose from: Whole30, AIP, GAPS are well-established and have seen good results. They have lots of resources, and Whole30 especially has strong online support. The Wahls Protocol was developed by a doctor with MS specifically to target MS, so it may be of interest to those suffering neurological problems. This piece on the Migraine Diet also supports the findings of the non-migraine specific programs listed above (that cheese, nitrates, alcohol, etc. can trigger migraines).
For many people, it isn’t tomatoes or nightshades that are problematic. It’s gluten, dairy, soy, sugar, legumes. Ultimately, there is no replacement for doing your own research to find what your triggers may be.
It doesn’t matter how great a drug is if it doesn’t work for you. Or if it stops working. Or if, after years of trying, debilitating pain still keeps you from functioning as you want in your life. An intractable migraine is a hard thing to beat, and even harder to live with. Some people report success from eliminating trigger foods, and you may be one of them. Give yourself the best chance of success, of living the full and beautiful life you’ve wanted to lead. If medicine has failed you, it’s time to take your well-being into your own hands. Start here.
Have you tried an elimination diet? What did you eliminate? What were your triggers?