Can gluten cause headaches?

With all the daily commitments and an increasingly accelerated routine, headaches become common, especially when combined with recurrent stress. While in some cases the pain is mild and goes away with a simple analgesic pill, in others it is much more painful.

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Migraine sufferers, for example, are sensitive not only to pain, which seems stronger every second, but also to the minimum of noise, light and eye movement. For some people, it becomes impossible to continue with the simplest activities, such as typing or watching TV.

Gluten and migraine: food care

Although there are numerous causes of migraine, did you know that it can also be related to gluten consumption? Yes, several studies point out that consuming foods that contain gluten can trigger severe migraine attacks in people who have a certain sensitivity to protein. For you to understand a little more about the subject, we brought you some relevant information about gluten, migraine and this relationship. Follow and learn more.

What is gluten?

Gluten is a protein widely found on the market. It is present in wheat, barley and malt. That is, in products and foods that are widely consumed by the population.

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Gluten is composed of two specific proteins: glutenin and gliadin. For you to know: these proteins are responsible for giving elasticity and flavor to pasta such as pizzas, breads and other wheat-based preparations – since they turn into a sticky mixture when in contact with water. You can already imagine how gluten is actually found in many of the foods consumed on a daily basis, right?

  • Read also: All about gluten – List of foods that do not contain protein

Why do gluten foods cause headaches?

The answer is simple. Gluten intake, when carried out by people who are sensitive to protein, causes a strong inflammatory process in the central nervous system – causing headaches, especially migraine. In addition to these pains, other neurological symptoms may occur in the brain, spinal cord and nerves, as well as major changes in the digestive system.

How do I know if I’m sensitive to gluten?

Most gluten-sensitive individuals are not diagnosed, not least because when symptoms are mild they rarely seek medical attention. Unfortunately, many people resort to specialized treatment with a critical level of intolerance, which is called celiac disease. But knowing the symptoms and paying attention to your body’s reaction after gluten ingestion, it is possible to turn on the little warning sign and seek a more accurate diagnosis.

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Among the main symptoms presented by people sensitive to gluten, we can highlight:

  • Yellowed teeth, dental caries, cracks and other dental problems;
  • Low immunity, as approximately 80% of the human body’s immune system is concentrated in the intestine. And it is exactly in the intestine that the greatest impacts of gluten ingestion occur;
  • Diseases and digestive conditions such as bloating, gas, abdominal pain and irritable bowel syndrome;
  • Mood changes with depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder;
  • Accentuation of dermatological disorders, such as psoriasis or eczema;
  • Infertility not diagnosed by other means. When all possibilities have been investigated and discarded, infertility can be considered as a consequence of sensitivity to gluten;
  • Extreme tiredness, regardless of great physical efforts, only in routine activities of daily life.

Which gluten foods to avoid?

Discarding all possibilities of other diseases, such as celiac disease – which requires greater care regarding its diagnosis – it is interesting to avoid the foods that can trigger migraines. We have prepared a list to let you know the foods with gluten that can cause headaches. Check it out:

  • Wheat, rye, barley, oats and malt, flour, bran and wheat germ, oat bran, breadcrumbs, kibe wheat;
  • French bread, brown bread, loaf of bread, sweet bread, pies, pie, snacks, croissant, pizza, pasta and pasta based on wheat, semolina or semolina, kibe and industrialized flour;
  • Chocolate with malt in composition, Ovomaltine, oatmeal, yogurt with oatmeal in their formulas;
  • Shoyo sauce with wheat in its composition (it is worth making sure with caution, since most brands contain wheat);
  • Cakes, pies, party sweets, chocolate containing malt, pave, German pie;

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  • Gluten steak, vegetable protein, nuggets, breaded steak, breaded;
  • Reused oil from previous frying;
  • Japanese peanuts;
  • Tempura, breaded vegetables, pies and vegetable patties.

What foods are allowed?

There are vast options of food released for those suffering from gluten sensitivity and, consequently, migraine. Ideally, food should be fresh and unprocessed. Among the ones you can consume without worry, are:

  • Some types of flour such as soy flour, tapioca flour, yam flour, teff, yeast, almond flour and brown rice flour  (Discover low carb flours);
  • All types of fruit, as long as they are “fresh”. Fruit and fruit juices with other ingredients may contain traces of gluten, depending on the ingredients used in the preparation;

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  • Cheddar cheese, sour cream, eggs, milk, plain yogurt and butter;
  • Seasonings and spices such as garlic, onion, rosemary, parsley, thyme, tomatoes, peppers and peppercorns.

How is migraine from gluten consumption diagnosed?

There are no specific tests that relate migraine attacks to gluten consumption. What happens is a dissociation of symptoms and other diseases. Usually the diagnosis is based on a practical test: the individual suffering from migraine removes gluten completely from their daily diet, for a period of 2 to 3 months.

The person who is sensitive to the protein will stop experiencing headaches almost instantly once the causative agent is removed from the body. If the pain persists, it is more likely that the causes of migraine are related to another condition, excluding sensitivity to gluten.

Gluten-free diet needs medical monitoring

Even recognizing the symptoms we mentioned throughout the article, before removing gluten from your diet in order to eliminate headaches, it is interesting to seek medical help. Despite the cons of gluten in the most sensitive individuals, protein also has its pros. Gluten is responsible, for example, for controlling triglyceride and blood glucose levels, optimizing the absorption of other proteins and vitamins and improving the functioning of the intestinal flora.

We hope you enjoyed our article and understood the real relationship between gluten and headaches. If you have any questions on the subject, don’t forget to leave your comment and share it with us.


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