Friday, April 10, 2009

OK, Why Didn't I Know This: Migraines and Complex Sugars

Friends. First, Blessed Good Friday! I hope everyone is having a lovely day, and that if you are having to work (like me) that its going smoothly and you have time to reflect on the day at hand. I'd like to give a nod to Adam over at Where the Wind ... his post today, like I said in the comments ... Wow, just wow. It moved me. Please go read it :)

Now on to migraines and complex sugars, and the brave new world of possibly TMI. If you're joining me for the first time here, I have migraines.* I know for a fact that High Fructose Corn Syrup is a primary trigger, and that artificial sweeteners do a number on me. I gave up Nutrasweet about 10 years ago, at divinity school, when I had an inkling that it was causing my back to have ridiculous muscle spasms. I stopped drinking Diet Coke and cut out all Nutrasweet, and I haven't had a weirdo muscle spasm in my back since.

So, why in the world is it just today that I happened to search for more info around complex sugars and found out that, according to this article at Access Medication, that artificial sweeteners (especially aspartame, aka Nutrasweet) are known migraine triggers? Hrmpf. This makes good sense. I don't think my body can break down fake sweetners normally. I don't have any medical proof on this, but sometimes you just know things by observing reactions.

And the reason I was searching for this stuff again? Well, I started taking probiotics like three weeks ago. But then, after taking them, I started to get tired, feel gross, and then I started getting a higher frequency of migraines. I figured there was something going on, so I researched probiotics and found out that many include chickory, FOS and inulin, which are all complex sugars that can be difficult to break down.

Ugh! All that effort to avoid bad sugars and I discover I'm inadvertantly putting them into my system twice a day!

I guess the lesson learned here is that I really do need to stay vigilant about what I'm ingesting. It's not a matter of just assuming that the nice lady at the health food store understands the complexities of what it means when I say "I have migraines, will that vitamin/supplement be OK for me? " No, I need to understand what's in the thing I'm buying before I commit to taking it.

The light at the end of the tunnel is that I stopped taking the probiotic yesterday and already am starting to feel better today. What a relief. OK, now go have a lovely Friday and take good care of yourselves :)

*I'm not a doctor, and I don't even play one on TV. So, here's my caveat - don't take any of my advice and run with it on your own. I've gone to multiple doctors, including a couple of neurologists to diagnose me and help figure out my triggers. Please go seek out medical advice if you're getting headaches you don't understand, or if you're getting new kinds of headaches. This stuff can be serious, and should not be left to self-diagnosis based on blogger advice.

6 comments:

South City Studio said...

Dropping in from SITS - I'm going to add you to my blog roll. I read your profile and I must say that I think you're one cool chic! :)

Holly

Liz said...

I am glad that you found out what was in that. Nutrasweet makes me so nauseated. I don't know why because I can use other artificial sweeteners and I do alright. I am glad that you are feeling better!

Adam said...

Thanks for the shout out, Paula. I used to get migraines on Thursdays. Is that weird? Then I stopped playing WoW and have hardly had any since.

Caroline said...

Wow! I just found your site and really love your profile. I second the comment that you seem like a neat person to connect with here. I love Christian inspirational blogs...thanks! I wanted to add that our son (four years old) suffered all his life from severe food allergies and Eczema. After a loooong road of docs, specialists, hospitals, itching, bleeding and NO sleep...he has finally been healed thanks to many prayers. God took care of him through his probiotic (Vidazorb kids chewables) and he not only LOVES them...but they have changed his life-our life! He can now enjoy almost any food and sleeps and feels like a normal little boy! Everyone is different, I know. But because they have worked so well for us, I thought I would at least mention it to you! Thanks again and Happy Easter! Caroline

Paula said...

Thanks friends!

@Caroline - I am so glad that your son has seen a great amount of improvement by taking probiotics. I know that many, many people get great results from them, and I don't mean to make it sound otherwise in my post. I love hearing that your son had great success with them. That is what is important :)

I've made a couple of other discoveries since this last post, and I think I may need to go get tested for Fructose Malabsorption.

If that's the case, and I'm one of the people who does have Fructose Malabsorption, I should not be taking any prebiotics or probiotics. Having FM issues means that your body does not absorb fructose, and it gets sent directly to the large intestine, where the bacteria feed on it (causing gas and other issues). Lovely, no? Adding more fructose, and more bacteria to the system often has adverse effects for people with FM.

This makes a world of sense to me, after my experiences over the last three weeks or so. The lethargy, bloating, gas, headaches, all of it, make a lot of sense.

It's definitely a case by case basis, so what I'm learning is that each of us needs to be an advocate for our own health.

Kelly Deneen said...

So glad that you figured out the trigger! That is terrible! This just goes to show that we all should be eating whole and natural foods and avoid all processed food. I think people would all be healthier if we could eat that way.

Thanks for stopping by my blog!