There has been a lot of talk lately about gut bacteria. We’re accustomed to thinking of bacteria and other microbes as being bad — and some, such as E. Coli or salmonella in contaminated food, can indeed cause serious illness. But the bacteria in our gut, well, they’re not so bad. Most of the bacteria and other microbes in our bodies are actually very good, IF they are diverse and balanced.
If not, it raises some big red flags for our overall health — including migraines.
Study Ties Gut Health to Migraines
In a new study published in the journal mSystems, improper levels of gut bacteria have now been added to the list of potential causes of migraines.
People who suffer from these debilitating headaches may actually have an abnormality in the stomach that causes them. A unique mix of gut bacteria could actually increase sensitivity to certain foods containing nitrates, according to the study. It’s possible that, when food is being broken down more effectively by the gut bacteria, these nitrates cause vessels in the brain and scalp to dilate, which results in a migraine.
These types of nitrates are typically found in processed meats, leafy vegetables, and some wines. Research showed that migraine sufferers had higher levels of certain bacteria known to be involved in processing these foods.
Nitrates Harder to Break Down
The results of the study, scientists say, could help explain why some people are more susceptible to migraines, which affect three times as many women as men.
“There is this idea out there that certain foods trigger migraines — chocolate, wine and especially foods containing nitrates. We thought that perhaps there are connections between what people are eating, their microbiomes and their experiences with migraines,” says Antonio Gonzalez, the study’s first author, told The Guardian.
According to researchers, it might be possible to “have a magical probiotic mouthwash” in the future. This potential product would shift the balance of gut bacteria, ultimately helping prevent migraines.
Effective Headache and Migraine Treatment in Southern California
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