Gut Health and Migraines: Is There a Link?
If you’ve been dealing with constant, heavy migraines recently, you may want to look into your digestive system for help. While over-the-counter medications may or may not provide temporary relief, you will want to find a natural solution that will help you get rid of your migraines for good. But is there really a link between your gut health and migraines?
Your gut health has a direct impact on the severity and frequency of your migraines due to the gut-brain axis. This is the bidirectional communication between the nerve cells in your gut and your brain, which gives your gut the ability to have a direct impact on your brain.
If you’ve fruitlessly tried countless methods to get rid of your recurring migraines, this article may be for you. Keep reading to learn more about how the gut and the brain are related, how your gut could be causing your migraines, and how to heal your gut to alleviate your migraines.
Gut Problems Linked to Frequent Migraines
Your gut health is much more important than you may think. Beyond keeping your digestive tract moving, a healthy and balanced gut microbiome can help with a whole host of issues, including migraines.
Numerous studies have found a direct link between gut health and central nervous system problems such as migraines. These studies show that people who suffer from gastrointestinal issues are more likely to have more frequent and more severe migraines. Some of the GI issues likely to cause or worsen migraines include:
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
- Celiac disease.
- HP infection (Helicobacter pylori)
Even if you don’t suffer from any of the above conditions, you could be falling victim to GI-induced migraines if you have a gut microbiome in dysbiosis. Research suggests that an unbalanced gut microbiome could cause migraines by:
- Increasing inflammation.
- Fostering an unhealthy gut microbe composition.
- Impacting neuropeptides and serotonin pathways.
- Reducing the absorption of nutrients from food.
- Increasing the number of stress hormones in your body.
So, if you thought your diet was only a means to regulate your weight, you should think again. What you eat and how you take care of your gut microbiome can have a direct impact on headaches and migraines.
How Your Gut and Brain Are Connected
If you’re still unsure about how minuscule microbes in your gut could possibly affect your migraines, you should take a closer look at the gut-health axis. This is how we refer to the bidirectional communication between your gut and your central nervous system (CNS).
Whereas the connection between the CNS and the digestive tract has been long understood, a more recent discovery is how the gut can impact your CNS. In other words, not only can your brain control your gut, but your gut can also control your brain (to a certain extent).
The enteric nervous system (ENS) is a collection of hundreds of millions of nerve cells that live in your gut. The ENS is connected to your CNS thanks to the Vagus nerve, which serves as a direct link between your brain and your gut. Through the Vagus nerve, your gut is able to send neurotransmitters full of information, commands, and other signals to your brain.
Take serotonin, for example, which is universally known as “the happy hormone.” Perhaps surprisingly, over 90% of the serotonin in charge of keeping you happy is produced in your gut. Similarly, the gut produces many other essential neurotransmitters for normal CNS function, such as GABA.
In short, an unhealthy gut causes an unhappy brain. And unhappy brains are prone to give you migraines and potentially even worse conditions like anxiety and depression.
How Healing Your Gut Could Improve Migraine Symptoms
Few things are worse than suffering from chronic, severe migraines. If you’ve tried almost everything under the sun to (unsuccessfully) get rid of your head pains, you should take a look at your gut health to try to ameliorate your symptoms.
A 2019 study found that consistent consumption of probiotics reduced the severity, frequency, and duration of migraines among participants who struggled with migraine issues. Consuming probiotics can help increase the number of bacteria in your gut, thus helping you achieve a more balanced gut microbiome.
On the other hand, a 2016 study found that people who suffer from frequent migraines are more likely to have more “bad” bacteria in the mouth. Although gut health is all about increasing the number of healthy bacteria in your gut, oral health is actually an important indicator of a healthy microbiome. And too much bacteria in the mouth is never a good idea! Thus, the study suggests that an unhealthy gut can lead to sustained migraines.
Another possible culprit for gut-triggered migraines can be leaky gut syndrome. Although this can be a highly controversial topic, there is some evidence suggesting that gut permeability could cause a whole host of issues, perhaps even migraines.
Beyond all these issues that could have a direct impact on your migraines, focusing on gut health could indirectly improve your migraines and CNS function by improving your overall health. A healthy gut could lead to significant improvements in:
- Digestive health.
- Energy levels and overall mood.
- Weight regulation.
- Prevention of autoimmune diseases and more serious illnesses like autism and cancer.
So, even if your gut doesn’t turn out to be the culprit of your constant migraines, focusing on improving your gut health could lead to all kinds of beneficial health outcomes.
How to Heal Your Gut for Reduced Migraines
Improving your gut health involves a number of lifestyle and dietary changes that will undoubtedly improve your overall health. As you probably already know, changing your diet is one of the easiest ways to improve your gut health, but there are many additional ways to make a positive impact on your gut health.
Here are the best ways to heal your gut for reduced migraines:
- Eat a wider variety of fruits and vegetables. Your gut microbes need to consume fibre to survive, so the more types of fruits and vegetables you consume, the more diverse a gut microbiome you will have.
- Eat fermented foods. Fermented foods like kimchi, kefir, and kombucha are great ways to naturally introduce new microbes to your gut.
- Get more sleep. A regular sleep schedule has been shown to be positively correlated with a healthy gut.
- Exercise regularly. Working out can help keep your digestive tract active, which will help your gut microbiome.
- Consume a probiotic supplement. Although taking a pill won’t magically replace the necessary lifestyle changes for a healthy gut, a probiotic supplement can help introduce new strains of bacteria to your gut.
- Avoid antibiotics. Antibiotic treatments are essential for treating a number of infections and diseases, but you should avoid them whenever possible to avoid killing healthy bacteria unnecessarily.
If you’d like even more tips on healing your gut, check out our ultimate guide to a healthy gut.
Download Our Gut Health App To Start Improving Your Gut Health
A healthy gut is responsible for much more than just digestion. Indeed, numerous studies show a clear relationship between your gut microbiome and the frequency, intensity, and duration of your migraines. If you suffer from an unbalanced gut microbiota and experience migraines frequently, it may pay off to spend some time focusing on healing your gut.
If you’d like to supercharge your efforts toward a healthy gut, you should download the OSbiome app from the Apple App Store today. Our app will help you keep track of key gut health indicators so you can make sure you’re making the most of your gut health journey.