Just like with allergies, there are a number of factors that increase the risk of having migraines. These factors pile up. Migraine symptoms appear once the migraine threshold is reached. Migraine threshold level is specific to each of us.
Migraine risk factors can pile up slowly and over time or quickly, above all when highly sensitive to them. This is why they are usually called ‘triggers’ although they are not the root cause of the migraine, just like how the last straw did not actually break the camel’s back. Risk factors sensitivities are specific to each of us.
In order to stay migraine free, we must remain below our migraine threshold. There are two ways to do so: control all controllable risk factors (GDP approach) and raise the migraine threshold (prophylaxis approach). For prophylaxis (preventive medication), please consult your doctor.
Since most risk factors sensitivities are not obvious (you would not be reading this if they were), eliminating and testing one by one is useless: the presence or absence of other risk factors can still supersede the effect of the eliminated/tested risk in exceeding or staying below the migraine threshold.
Among risk factors, some can hardly be controlled, such as family history, weather changes, hormones or trauma. Most can be controlled.
The Good Days Program focuses on both controllable lifestyle & dietary migraine risk factors and on identifying your dietary sensitivities
The Good Days Program is made of three consecutive phases. Success highly depends on commitment. Sufficient time should be allowed for each phase. Timelines are indicative. Do make sure a phase is completed before switching to the next one.
Phase 1: 10-15 days. Focus on lifestyle and addictive food chemicals: build a lifestyle routine of up to seven lifestyle protectors; substitute added sugar and caffeine.
Phase 2: 20 days to 2+ months. Body clean up: eliminate 20+ chemicals from your food and clean your body from these chemicals. Should you feel a significant increase in Good Days and decrease in migraine days and in symptoms severity, this means that food makes a difference to your migraines. You can then switch to phase 3.
Phase 3: 5-6+ months. Sensitivity testing: add back food chemicals one by one and test sensitivity. Once identified, sensitive chemicals intake should be controlled, while food containing non-sensitive chemicals can be added back.
Dehydration, Hunger, Sleep pattern disruption, Jaw & Neck tension and Stress are most reported by Migraine Buddy users. They are all controllable:
Have 1.5l / 48 oz. of daily water intake in normal conditions (in house, cool temperature, no physical effort)
Have 3+ meals per day and snacks to avoid hunger
Work on your sleep pattern. Use Migraine Buddy to determine it then stick to bed time and sleep duration
Build resistance to stress and anxiety: 30 min daily moderate exercise such as walking, yoga, meditation, focus on stress benefits and hug your beloved ones
5-min Neck exercises to prevent/relieve neck pain
2-min Jaw massage to relieve jaw and temple tension
Wear your mouth guard at night should you be subject to bruxism
Avoid environmental factors that you are sensitive to: odd smells, strong light, high temperatures etc.
Food intolerance: three big families of chemicals - Amines (including Histamine, Tyramine, Phenylethylamine), Salicylates and Glutamate - raise the risk of developing food intolerance symptoms, including migraines and headaches. Specific allergens in Corn, Garlic and Onions are often reported as strong migraine risk factors, as well as Casein and gluten.
Aspartate is an excitotoxin contained in artificial sweeteners. It has similar effects as glutamate.
Added sugar trigger big swings in blood sugar level resulting in hypoglycemia, with similar effect as hunger, one of the biggest migraine risk factor reported by Migraine Buddy users.
Alcohol is a strong diuretic, that triggers dehydration (a major migraine risk factor). Caffeine, a diuretic as well, also has effects on sleep pattern, which is the second most reported migraine risk factor by Migraine Buddy users.
Among the poison pills developed by plants to dissuade animals from eating them, a few are migraine risk factors: Glycoalkaloids in nightshades vegetables, Capsaicin in chili pepper and other hot nightshades, Gluten in grains, high level of Omega 6 fatty acids in vegetable seed oils and Tannins in many leaves, seeds and fruits.
Last but not least, chemical food Sulfites, Nitrates/Nitrites and Salt (sodium) are strong migraine risk factors to many patients. Nitrites in particular are a vasodilator and sodium is linked to hypertension.