Last updated January 2, 2024.
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If you often experience pounding headaches but aren’t sure why, then here’s something to consider: the food you eat can trigger migraines if you have food sensitivities. (Note that the Everlywell Food Sensitivity Test can help you quickly identify foods you’re sensitive to.)
Read on to explore the connection between food sensitivities and migraines. To begin, let’s clarify what exactly a food sensitivity is.
The immune system is usually very effective at protecting your body against threats like germs and toxins. But if you have food sensitivities, your immune system mistakenly “thinks” that certain foods are dangerous to your body. It then reacts to the supposed threat by releasing IgG antibodies – and other substances – into the bloodstream. Ultimately, this immune response can result in any number of unpleasant symptoms, including migraines.
It’s important to keep in mind that a food sensitivity is not a food allergy! Food allergies involve IgE antibodies (not IgG antibodies). Also, food allergies can be immediately life-threatening – which isn’t the case for food sensitivities. And food allergy symptoms appear almost as soon as you’ve eaten something you’re allergic to. But if you have a food sensitivity, you might not experience any symptoms for several days.
Several lines of research show that IgG reactivity to various foods is linked with migraines. In one study, researchers found that individuals who regularly experienced migraines were more likely to test positive for IgG reactivity to common foods . In addition, people with migraines had IgG reactivity to a much greater number of foods compared to people in the control group (who didn’t experience migraines regularly).
Impressively, more than 75% of people in the migraine group no longer experienced regular migraines after doing a food elimination diet guided by the IgG test results.
In another study, researchers discovered that an IgG-based elimination diet – carried out over 6 weeks – effectively reduced the number of headache days and migraine attacks in a group of migraine patients .
Scientific studies aren’t the only source of evidence for a connection between food sensitivities and migraines. The personal experiences of many people also reveal such a link. For example, Rhonda – who ultimately decided to take the Everlywell Food Sensitivity Test – shared this story with us:
“I suspected dairy products were a problem, but this test told me how bad a problem they were...Dairy products got me too wired to sleep and caused headaches and dizziness.”
A number of scientific studies – as well as personal experiences – thus suggest a connection between IgG-based food sensitivities and migraines. So how can you put that information to practical use if you suspect a food sensitivity is lurking behind your migraine attacks?
You can use an elimination diet to identify the foods that are potentially behind your migraines. How does this work?
Basically, in an elimination diet you start by removing foods you think might be responsible for your migraines – and you don’t eat any of those foods for about 2-4 weeks . Then, one at a time, you add each eliminated food back to your diet while watching for migraines over the next few days. If migraine symptoms pop up, you’ve possibly found a food that’s at fault.
An elimination diet done this way has some drawbacks. For example, because food sensitivity symptoms often take days to appear after you’ve eaten the “offending” food, it can be hard to make a good guess about what foods are actually responsible for your migraines. So you can wind up eliminating a lot of foods that actually aren’t causing any issues. As a result, it can take a long time to finish the elimination diet.
There’s a shortcut, though: an at-home Food Sensitivity Test.
The Everlywell Food Sensitivity Test reveals your IgG reactivity levels to 96 different kinds of food. The IgG reactivity levels are broken down into four different categories, ranging from Low to High reactivity.
This information by itself, however, won’t tell you precisely what foods cause your migraines. That’s because high IgG reactivity levels don’t result in migraine symptoms 100% of the time. But there’s often a strong link between IgG reactivity to certain foods and migraines – as shown by the studies discussed above.
So this test can be an easy-but-powerful way to narrow down the number of foods you initially eliminate from your diet (before you add them back one by one). It can thus be a huge time-saver – a reliable tool that, when paired with an elimination diet, can help you quickly pinpoint migraine-causing foods.
(Learn more here: How To Use A Food Elimination Diet To Discover Your Food Sensitivities)
That’s what Kasey – from Kansas City – discovered after taking the Everlywell Food Sensitivity Test:
“I know what foods to avoid and no longer have almost daily headaches. This info has literally changed my life forever.”
It’s also what Caylin experienced:
“I have struggled with fatigue, joint pain, headaches/migraines, and skin issues for a while. I assumed it was an allergy to something, but the idea of eliminating every single food from my diet at a time to try to find out exactly what it was seemed overwhelming to me – which just discouraged me from even trying...I tried to set up an appointment with the doctor, but after discovering the price it would cost, I decided to see if there was another way. I looked on the web and came across EverlyWell. I was a little skeptical, but I decided to give it a try. When, the test came, I was so worried about messing up – and wasting money – but thankfully it was pretty easy to do. The process was easy, and the free shipping was a plus. Everything seemed to work very efficiently and I was pleased. I waited in anticipation for the results – and found I have a food sensitivity to dairy. There are many other foods on the list, but dairy is on the top level. So now, instead of just playing a guessing game with my foods, I have a better idea on what to eliminate, and it's taken a huge weight off my shoulders.”
And here’s how Lexi – from Omaha, Nebraska – puts it:
“I get migraines occasionally and I know that one of my main triggers is stress, but I have always been suspicious of a food sensitivity. I didn't have the time or patience to do an elimination diet and try to figure out on my own what I might be sensitive to, so I ordered the test. Even if I had done an elimination diet without this test, I might still get migraines from other non-food related triggers, so I wouldn't ever be sure if what I had eliminated was actually something I'm sensitive to. My results confirmed my suspicions and now I can confidently eliminate what I'm sensitive to without guessing if it's going to work or not! I would definitely recommend doing the test if you're wondering about food sensitivities.”
Using the Everlywell Food Sensitivity Test results to guide your elimination diet can be an effective, easy way to pinpoint your food sensitivities – and you can do it all at home (instead of going to a lab or clinic for IgG testing). If that’s something you’re interested in, simply go here now to learn more about this at-home Food Sensitivity Test.
Note that headaches may also be caused by indoor or outdoor allergens such as trees, grasses, dust mites, and the like. You can use an at-home allergy testing kit to start learning which allergens may have caused your symptoms.