Wine may be the nectar of the gods and chocolate the treat we all love to eat, but for some people it can also be the cause of hellish migraines.
Researchers from the University of New England think they’ve discovered why, pointing to a close relationship between migraines and metabolism – the chemical changes in our bodies that help maintain life.
The breakthrough could help explain why red wine, cheese and chocolate cause the massive and painful headaches, which can last up to 72 hours and leave sufferers weak.
The researchers’ review showed that biochemical changes before and during a migraine are consistent with the development of metabolic challenges, like insulin resistance.
The hormone insulin is vital for the body to turn sugar into energy. People who are insulin resistant have type 2 diabetes and cannot properly use the insulin their body produces.
“We integrated biochemical and behavioural evidence from a number of research disciplines and found that most, if not all, of the migraine triggers could potentially reduce insulin sensitivity,” said lead researcher Dr Ann Kokavec.
“In one study, which assessed 200 migraine sufferers, it was reported the most common migraine triggers in order of frequency were fasting, chocolate, alcohol/red wine and coffee and all of these can be linked to insulin resistance.”
Other migraine triggers included peanuts, the menstrual cycle, bananas, caffeine, citrus and emotional stress.
“Therefore, a migraine could be part of a cascade of events which together act to protect the organism when confronted with a metabolic challenge,” Dr Kokavec said.
“The information presented [by the study] serves as a good starting point to perhaps make us start to review the current treatment and management of migraine patients.”
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