Does Sugar Cause Headaches And Migraine?


Does Sugar Cause Migraine Attacks?

For many migraine patients, sugar can actually cause migraine. But did you know that migraine triggers are different for everyone and it is a very common word when it comes to migraine? These “triggers” are factors that increase the risk of having migraine attacks if you are sensitive to them instead of actually triggering the attack.

Blood Sugar Dysregulation: Does Sugar Help Or Cause Migraine Attacks?

Too much sugar and too little sugar can increase the risk of having migraine symptoms When you consume too much sugar at once or don’t eat for an extended period, you can cause rapid fluctuations in your blood sugar levels which may increase the risk of migraine attacks.

How Does Sugar Cause Headaches or Migraine Attacks?

Sugar is a vital component of your body’s chemistry, it has a direct effect on your brain and nervous system. Migraine attacks after consuming sugar may have a lot to do with your blood glucose level. Glucose gives your body energy by entering your bloodstream after you consume sugar. Your body maintains a proper blood sugar level by breaking down glucose with insulin. When you eat too much sugar, your body manufactures more insulin. This is known as hyperglycemia. This causes you to experience a sudden drop in blood glucose levels. This is also known as a sugar crash or sugar hangover. Fluctuations in your glucose level affect your brain more than any other organ. These rises and drops can result increase the risk of having headaches. Headaches that are caused by over-consumption of sugar is also known as sugar headaches.

What Are The Symptoms Of Sugar Headaches?

Symptoms of sugar headaches include headache, increased thirst, frequent urination, and blurred vision. As a result, the headaches felt during this period could range from mild to severe. Once our glucose level is back to normal, the headaches should also subside.

Excessive sugar consumption can also contribute to chronic low-grade inflammation in the body. Inflammation, particularly in the brain, has been linked to migraine. Additionally, sugar consumption has been associated with changes in neurotransmitter levels, including serotonin, which plays a crucial role in migraine pathophysiology.

How Do Sugary Foods Cause Migraine Attacks?

Sugar consumption may also act indirectly by triggering other known migraine triggers, such as hormonal imbalances, stress, or disruptions in sleep patterns. Moreover, sugary foods often contain additives, such as artificial sweeteners or flavor enhancers may cause migraine for some people. Foods like chocolate may cause migraine for some people.

Sugar Withdrawal Headache: How Does Cutting Sugar Cause Migraine?

Cutting back on too much sugar can also cause headaches due to sugar withdrawal, known as sugar withdrawal headaches. Sugar withdrawal often happens when you’re starting a new diet or when cutting back on the consumption of sugary treats and beverages, such as candies or soda.

Low glucose levels could lead to hypoglycemia. Symptoms of hypoglycemia include headache, hunger, confusion, and trembling. If left untreated, it could lead to loss of consciousness. The good news is, consuming sugary drinks, energy gels, or a piece of candy could help balance out the glucose level.

A scientific study conducted in 2016 observed that the brain produces increased levels of dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure, motivation, and mood, when exposed to high amounts of sucrose, a specific type of sugar. However, the same study found that rats experiencing sucrose withdrawal exhibited a decrease in dopamine levels.

Dopamine is also believed to be involved in addiction processes. Therefore, when individuals abruptly cease sugar consumption, their brain may enter a state of withdrawal, potentially contributing to the onset of a migraine headache. Gradually reducing sugar intake may help alleviate these symptoms.

Tips to Reduce Sugar and Prevent Migraine Attacks

Glucose is the primary and preferred source of fuel for the brain and body.

However, many people can benefit from reducing their added sugar intake by instead choosing fruits and vegetables, which provide vitamins, minerals, fiber, and naturally occurring sugar for energy. Including fibrous, complex carbohydrates can help deter cravings and minimize sugar withdrawal. Minerals like magnesium can help prevent migraine attacks.

People can increase their chances of success, reduce cravings, and minimize sugar withdrawal symptoms by using the following tips:

Avoid the following foods and drinks:

  • Sugar-sweetened beverages: Sodas, fruit juices, and energy drinks are the leading sources of added sugars, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)Trusted Source. Drink water and unsweetened coffee or tea instead.
  • Candies and sweets: These food items contain high quantities of added sugar. Try replacing them with fresh fruit.
  • Baked goods: Cakes, cookies, and even certain types of bread contain added sugars. Avoid these refined carbohydrates as much as possible.
  • Avoid hidden sugars: Food advertised as low fat or fat-free often contains added sugars to offset the missing fat.

Combat cravings by:

  • Eating more protein: Animal and plant-based protein sources can help regulate the appetite.
  • Snacking on fresh fruits: People who experience intense sugar carvings can satisfy their sweet tooth with a piece of fresh fruit. Unlike candy bars and cookies, fruits contain naturally occurring sugars and fiber.
  • Getting enough sleep: Lack of sleep may cause cravings for unhealthful foods

How To Prevent Or Stop Sugar Headaches?

For the majority of mild to moderate headaches, you can find relief by taking over-the-counter painkillers and allowing themselves to rest.

Nevertheless, if a person encounters persistent headaches, it is advisable to seek medical attention, as it could potentially indicate underlying problems such as blood sugar imbalances or other health issues.

To prevent sugar headaches, individuals can consider the following measures:

  1. Maintain a regular and balanced eating schedule, ensuring meals are nutritious.
  2. Opt for unprocessed and complex carbohydrates found in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
  3. Adhere to the healthcare provider’s instructions for managing diabetes, if applicable.
  4. Engage in regular exercise, which can help regulate blood sugar levels.
  5. Limit consumption of sugary sodas, candies, and other foods that contain added sugars.

By incorporating these practices into their lifestyle, individuals can minimize the occurrence of sugar-related headaches and promote overall well-being.

How to be Migraine Pro?

Understanding migraine enables you to cope with and potentially anticipate migraine attacks. 

Join our #MigraineBuddy Community and work towards a migraine-free life! This will also help you to know what to expect for your migraine doctor appointment. Start tracking migraine now and live the best life you can as a #MigraineWarrior.

Download Migraine Buddy Now!

Jenny from Migraine Buddy

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