Sugar—we hear so much about how Americans overdo their sugar consumption. Sweet foods supply us with sugar, but the body also converts other foods into sugar after eating, so we can end up taking in a lot more sugar than we realize. Rice, corn, and iceberg lettuce are some foods that become simple sugar once they enter the body. When we eat too much sugary food or food that converts into sugar internally, we end up dehydrated. Sugar and caffeine are diuretics, meaning they dehydrate your body. Your cells become smaller and have less energy to function, leading to deficiencies in nutrients that your brain needs.
This is how foods and drinks containing sugar can become migraine triggers. The biochemical balance of your cells get disrupted and you no longer have Electrolyte Homeostasis (proper cell hydration). Migraine triggers are not based on specific foods, but actually the key elements those foods contain and how they affect the hydration levels of your cells.
If you absolutely cannot say no to sugar, one way to balance out the dehydrating sugary foods and drinks you have is to make sure to drink extra water with them. Hydrating will help restore Electrolyte Homeostasis.
One form of sugar that you should cut out completely is sugar substitutes. Artificial sweeteners have the same chemical structure as real sugar, tricking the brain into believing that it has gotten energy when it really hasn't. These sugar substitutes also fool our body into releasing insulin into the blood like our body does when we take in real sugar. Insulin resistance increases—also known as type II diabetes. Artificial sweeteners can make you exhausted and sleepy because real sugar is the brain's only source of energy. Sugar substitutes just deny your brain energy.
This is one way that sugar substitutes can make you gain weight—your body thinks it has received sugar, but it hasn't, so you crave sugar again even though you just ate something sugary. People who take in a lot of artificial sweeteners end up eating much more sugary food than people who eat foods with real sugar.
So track down foods with real sugar if you're craving sweets and make sure to accompany them with a glass or two of water. Do this and sugar might not be so much of a migraine trigger for you!
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