Salt and migraines

It has been about two months since I started the no added salt diet which basically means no processed food, no eating out, and baking my own bread. My blood pressure is now exemplary at around 112/70. And guess what? No side effects because I haven’t had to take any drugs. Actually, I tell a lie, there is one side-effect and that is I occasionally find myself wanting to do this:

A beyond meat burger with loads of ketchup and deep fried french fries …..

Maybe I’ll treat myself every once in a while.

There is one other rather nice side effect and that is I haven’t had a migraine for two months. I usually get migraines every month and have done for more than a decade. I’ve tried everything from chocolate elimination, alcohol elimination, drugs … nothing works and they’re excruciatingly painful. I even used to avoid sulphites but I’ve given up on that now since it doesn’t help.

In hindsight the salt connection seems logical. There’s even some literature to back this up. In one study, people on a reduced sodium diet reported fewer headaches. Salt damages the endothelial layer in blood vessels, stiffening them and making it more difficult for them to dilate. Although the specific mechanism is unknown, vascular headaches are associated with changes in blood vessels in the head and neck.

Two months is probably not long enough to know for sure but if this is the end of migraines for me then I’ll have no problem maintaining the diet in the long term. I would do anything to rid myself of that pain. I only wish someone had suggested it to me earlier.

Some people have been concerned that I may not be getting enough sodium. According to the American Heart Foundation our bodies only need 500mg of sodium per day and our kidneys are very good at retaining the sodium we need so it’s very unlikely that someone would not be getting enough – unless they’re on drugs or competitive athletes who sweat a lot.

6 responses to “Salt and migraines”

  1. Only 500 mg of sodium a day? I’m sure most of us go over that by a huge amount! Thanks for sharing your experience – I’ve been reducing sodium as well and it does seem to be a healthier way to go.

    • Yes, it’s quite hard not to go way above that level in our society. Anything you buy in a packet has salt added and I doubt I’ll ever find a restaurant that doesn’t add salt. I think it’ll be ok to treat myself every once in a while though now that it’s stable and good.

  2. It will be very interesting to track your progress re: the migraines. My mother was a migraine sufferer, so I know second-hand how debilitating they are.

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