Best Practices in the Kitchen to Prevent Migraine

As a general rule, eating to prevent migraine involves avoiding fermented and high histamine and foods in favor of freshly prepared, PREbiotic, and mineral-rich foods – as outlined in the SimplyWell Migraine Relief Protocol.

I want this article to be about what you can eat, not what you can’t.  But because migraine is essentially an issue of lymphatic congestion caused by compromised gut flora and environmental toxicity exposures that our bodies are too overwhelmed to handle, the issue of food sourcing and food quality is also important to mention – so please pay attention to the last two sections of this article to stay mindful of ways to avoid adding to the chemical overload.

Please note that the practices outlined below do not take into consideration every single food sensitivity that every migraineur may have (that diet would be breatharianism).  The list below emphasizes healing foods that support gut health and electrolyte balance and generally prevent histamine overload.  Sensitivities to oxalates, salycylates, sulfites, benzoates, etc. are not addressed here.

Prebiotic Foods

I’ve written about prebiotic foods and why I adore them so much already, but want to do another quick overview here.  Prebiotic foods are foods that contain soluble fiber which is resistant to breakdown in the small intestine and preferentially feeds the healthy bacteria in our guts. They are very different from probiotic foods and priobiotic supplements in that they support the growth of healthy bacterial populations already present rather than trying to introduce new bacteria.  Many strains of PRObiotics are histamine-producing (which is why kim-chi can give you a migraine), whereas PREbiotics contain no histamine and reduce histamine load.  There are different types of prebiotics, including arabinogalactans, resistant starch, inulin, galacto-oligosacharides, pectins, and gums.

It’s essential we eat a lot of these foods to maintain a diverse microbiome.  Many people are averse to foods high in prebiotic fibers because they can initially cause gas and bloating.  In many cases this is just a temporary discomfort – and a sign that the pathogenic bacteria are being replaced with healthy bacteria.  Gas and bloating is an expected “side-effect” that occurs as your body’s gut flora recalibrate.  However you do want to go slow on introducing prebiotic foods into your diet (as outlined in the SimplyWell Protocol). I have many prebiotic-rich recipes in my recipe section.  The easiest foods to incorporate into your diet to get sufficient prebiotics are:

  • raw carrots
  • cold bean dips like hummus
  • potato salad (with lemon juice instead of vinegar!)
  • raw jicama (use it in salads or drizzled with lime juice)
  • raw radishes (eaten alone or in salads)
  • cold rice (I make a lovely tabouleh using rice instead of bulgur wheat)
  • anything made with fresh or dried shredded coconut
  • cold lentil salads or Dosa wraps

Cautions: those with SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth will not do well on prebiotics and will need to address SIBO first.

Selenium-rich Foods

Selenium is needed to make glutathione, the body’s most important antioxidant (which is usually low in those with migraine, because the high inflammation levels mean that this antioxidant is in constant demand and therefore depleted.  Interestingly, triptan medications used to treat migraine also deplete glutathione).  Selenium is also essential for thyroid health.

It is commonly said that Brazil nuts contain the most selenium of any food. But according to Chris Masterjohn, PhD, the amount of selenium in Brazil nuts is highly variable, and entirely dependent on quantities of selenium in the soil the trees are growing in (since Brazil nut trees do not utilize selenium for their own needs).  Due to this, you may want to eat other foods that are high in selenium as well, such as blue corn and fish skin (so if you eat fish, be sure to eat the skin – this will also help to detoxify any heavy metals in the fish).

Cautions: Selenium is a sulfur-based molecule, and those with sensitivities to sulfur-rich food will not do well on selenium supplements or foods high in selenium until they address their sulfur issues.  See Dr. Greg Nigh’s protocol for more info.

Sulfur-rich Foods

It’s true that some people with migraine can’t tolerate sulfur-rich foods.  This is a sign of a compromised phase 2 sulfation detoxification pathway in the liver and should be addressed with your holistic health provider or in a migraine relief coaching session.  For those who can tolerate sulfur-rich foods, they are very beneficial for cleaning the liver among other functions.  It’s interesting to note that glutathione, the most important antioxidant in the body which is normally low in those with migraine, is a sulfur-based compound.  The best sulfur-rich foods are:

  • radishes, horseradish, mustard
  • bok choy, cabbage, mustard greens
  • protein-bound sulfur in meats
  • onions and garlic

Cautions: Those with SIBO may have high sulfur and will need to address their sulfur sensitivities before eating sulfur-rich foods.  See Dr. Greg Nigh’s protocol for more info.

Methylating Foods

You don’t have to take methylfolate or methylcobalamin to methylate properly (these may actually cause problems for those with migraine).  Foods high in choline and trimethylglyceine can also lend methyl groups, help your liver to detoxify, and prevent migraine.  The best source of choline is egg yolks.  Poultry, rice, and peanuts are also good sources, as is sunflower lecithin.  It’s best not to overcook egg yolks so that you preserve some of the sulfur as well.  Choline is also important for improving levels of acetylcholine, the neurotransmitter which regulates the vagus nerve, improves vagal tone, and reduces inflammation.

For trimethylglyceine, eat foods from the amaranth family – quinoa. I personally love incorporating organic quinoa orzo into my dishes. The trimethylglyceine in quinoa and beets will also help your liver to detoxify excess xenoestrogens, so go slow and gentle on these – especially on the beets. Eating organic liver sourced from healthy animals is also a good way to support methylation (and will also provide you with balanced levels of copper and zinc, as well as B vitamins).

Cautions: Overmethylation can also cause headaches, so avoid methylated B vitamins. Beets are also a good source of trimethylglycine but because they are a migraine trigger they are best avoided (they are high in arginine, nitrates, and oxalates).

Healthy Fats

Because migraine is caused in part by lymphatic congestion, and the lymphatic system is a lipid-based system (ie, a fat-based system), consuming healthy fats is essential to support your body’s ability to detoxify. Fats are also a superb form of energy that are easily utilized by the body and do not (contrary to popular belief) lead to weight gain.

Saturated fats are preferable because they don’t go rancid/get oxidzed as easily as unsaturated fats.  Saturated fats also have many other beneficial properties.

  • The most important fat to implement into your diet is olive oil.  The oleic acid in olive oil increases the diamine oxidase enzyme responsible for the breakdown of histamine.  Olive oil also has analgesic (pain relieving) qualities similar to Ibuprofen.  Another benefit is that it is not processed with the use of solvents such as hexane as many other vegetable oils are.  It’s important not to cook olive oil at high heat, however.  Drizzle it onto food once it has been cooked, or use it in salad dressing.  The olive oil you purchase must be virgin unrefined organic olive oil.
  • Coconut oil is a superb oil for supporting gut health.  The fatty acids in coconut oil increase butyric acid (butyrate) in the colon (prebiotic foods, once digested, also produce butyrate). Butyrate increases GABA, the calming neurotransmitter in the brain, which also puts the brakes on glutatmate toxicity. Butyrate also increases ketones in the liver, thereby optimizing blood sugar regulation and even ATP energy generation on a neuronal level.  Butyrate also helps to maintain the integrity of the gut lining. People who are sensitive to the sulfur in coconut meat are usually not sensitive to the oil.  Always buy organic virgin unrefined oil.
  • Ghee (clarified butter) and butter are both excellent fats to incorporate into the diet liberally, with ghee being even better than butter because it contains no casein and can withstand high temperatures.  Ghee should be your high heat cooking oil (you can learn to make your own here).  Both ghee and butter contain 3-4% butyric acid, the highest source for any food. However, unlike coconut oil, butter and ghee contain omega-3 fatty acids which are needed to balance other Omega-6 vegetable oils. Omega-3’s have been shown to decrease inflammation and mediate pain.  It’s very important to buy only grassfed, pastured, or organic ghee or butter to avoid contaminants which tend to bio-accumulate in the fat of animals raised for butter.
  • Red Palm Oil is an amazing oil which contains tocotrienols, a rare and important form of vitamin E, as well as squalene, a potent antioxidant which aids the body’s ability to eliminate environmental toxins, including radiation. Red palm oil is beneficial for arthritis, gastrointestinal upset, and gout.  It boosts energy and improves circulation. It helps to improve absorption of vitamin D and build important hormones such as progesterone (a glutamate scavenger). This amazing oil in unrefined red form is has also been shown to help with lead detoxification in rats, and to decrease blood platelet aggregation (ie, makes blood cells less sticky).  To top it off, red palm oil is also one of the highest plant-based sources of CoQ10.  Red palm oil is a medium-heat oil.  It is important that it be sourced in a way that doesn’t destroy ecosystems.  I use Nutiva Organic Red Palm Oil, which is grown in Ecuador rather than SE Asia so does not negatively affect Orangutang habitat.
  • Lard and tallow are both excellent fats and also contain omega-3 fatty acids. Because lard and tallow are both rendered down from the entire animal, the issue of purity is crucial.  This is not a type of fat that I personally use often because it is challenging to find quality sources of grassfed, pastured, or organic lard and tallow.  (Unfortunately, I am not convinced that all pastured animal products are pure. I live in Oregon where I regularly see cattle grazing in open fields directly next to roundup-ready corn fields, which are sprayed with glyphosate.)

Cautions: Oxidized oils can seriously disrupt enzyme function, so making sure your oils are of top quality is key.  Also, overall people with migraines have poor liver and gallbladder function – therefore, while healthy fats are important, it is still valuable to not go overboard with fat or oil consumption even when they are of quality. For more information on fats and oils read the book “Deep Nutrition”.

Meat and Seafood

As always, the most immediate issues here as meat consumption pertains to migraine are freshness and quality (that means canned fish and salami are not supportive of migraine).  Unfortunately, most meat that we purchase, even that which we consider fresh, is actually somewhat aged.  Beef and lamb are usually cured/aged, and fresh fish such as salmon can be on the shelf for as long as 18 days prior to sale.  The presence of bacteria in these less-than-fresh meat products may not be a huge problem for people who only get migraines once in awhile.  However for those who are stuck in chronic migraine, it’s important that much fresher meat be consumed, such as meats and seafoods that were frozen at slaughter.

If you are highly sensitive to histamine, then the meats need to be eaten fresh and right away after you prepare them.  Leftover meats and especially canned fish like tuna have been known to trigger migraines.

Quality is also important, so opt for meats from the healthiest animals you can find, raised without the use of antibiotics or genetically engineered grain.  Buy organic meats whenever possible or better yet, buy localy-produced meats.  However, it appears that often times smaller-scale farmers raising local meat still use genetically engineered grains or may not be able to afford organic grain. There is also one issue to consider which is that animals raised by organic standards have probably still been vaccinated using genetically-engineered vaccines.

Another glaring problem is that of industrial feedlots and the enormous cost to the environment in the production of mainstream meat products and the inhumane treatment of animals raised for food.

Image by Mishka Henner

Because of these problems, I feel that eating less meat is better when it comes to eating healthy and consequently, reducing migraine.  I don’t see how we can eat sick animals that are destroying the environment, and expect to get better on that.

As with any food, individual preferences and tolerance will play a role here.  It is valuable to consider also whether or not you have sufficient stomach acid to break down the meat that you are eating, since undigested meat can ferment in the colon.  Therefore, eating smaller portions of meat (2-3 ounces per meal) for optimal digestion, and eating it less frequently, are options to consider.  It appears inevitable that the more meat is consumed, the less vegetables and fiber-rich food are consumed, because meat is so filling.

I want to mention one other potential problem with meat consumption.  Although the amino acids in meat are very valuable as building blocks for enzymes and building tissue, the breakdown of animal protein also results in nitrogen in the body.  This nitrogen converts into ammonia, and under normal circumstances, the body is able to convert the ammonia into urea and excrete it in the urine via the urea cycle.

However, due to certain genetic polymorphisms, as much as 30-40% of the population may be compromised in their ability to effectively eliminate ammonia as urea.  For this group of people, eating less meat is important as one way to reduce ammonia.  It is also possible that there are other ways that ammonia builds up in the body even in the presence of intact urea pathways.  This is something I am currently researching.  It is clear that a buildup of ammonia in the body leads to leaky gut syndrome and, in combination with the presence of glutamate in the system, contributes to encephalopathy (brain inflammation) and therefore is probably a contributing factor in migraine. For an excellent podcast on this topic, please listen to Chris Masterjohn on “Are We All Evolved to Eat a High Protein Diet?

(Incidentally, the alternate pathway for urea elimination in those with compromised urea cycles is via arginine.  As it turns out, lysine will block arginine since it shares the same receptor site, and lysine rich foods just so happen to be foods like parmesan that we recognize as migraine triggers.  Intriguing.)

Last of all, I do want to mention the value of organ meats for healing.  Of all meat, organ meats are the highest in fat-soluble vitamins crucial for bodily repair.  Therefore if you have access to quality organ meats and are not offended by their flavor, making fresh pate or eating liver or heart may be hugely supportive to your health, especially the health of your liver and heart.

Vegan Diets

To what extent are vegan diets supportive of migraine or detrimental to healing?  My personal view is that vegan diets are a great cleansing diet for a limited amount of time.  They are especially valuable as a way to get a huge amount of plant matter into your body, and reset your relationship to meat.  If you go back to eating meat after having been vegan, like I have, you will notice just how dense and hard to process meat is compared to other foods.  On the other hand, this density is valuable for grounding and also seasonally may be more appropriate at some times than at others (in winter, for example).

The vegans I know all eat very differently, so having the absence of meat or dairy be the defining characteristic of veganism is not actually a description of how each vegan will eat.

Historically, there are no examples of vegan societies (that I am aware of).  This does not mean that it is not an evolutionary step that more and more people are choosing to eat vegan given the environmental and ethical issues that arise with our problematic culture of meat production.  Just because wide-scale veganism has never been seen before doesn’t meant that it’s not worthwhile to try it.  But, it appears from my research that it is extremely difficult to get the same quality and amount of essential fatty acids and fat-soluble vitamins such as A, D, and E which are crucial to healing and especially important for lymphatic and brain health while on a vegan diet.  (One workaround for vitamin A as a vegan is red palm oil, since the beta carotenes in red palm oil convert more readily into vitamin A in this fat-based substance than eating beta carotenes from other plant sources).

Whether or not being vegan in general is healthy or not, I am not convinced that it is healthy for a sick person who is trying to heal to try to do so while vegan.  People with migraine may be less efficient at converting plant-based nutrients into similar forms found already in animal products than vegans without chronic illness. One of the most important vitamins for healing migraine is vitamin A in the form of retinol, which is needed to make ceruloplasm so that copper can be bioavailable for DAO and MAO to break down histamine and tyramine.

Teas and Coffee

As I mentioned in a previous blog post on the benefits and drawbacks of coffee, tannins in both coffee and some teas are problematic because they bind to and deplete essential B vitamins.  Therefore if you consume coffee or tea it’s essential to take a B vitamin complex to replace these (however, B vitamin supplementation can also be a migraine trigger itself – stay tuned for more blog posts on this topic and how to deal with it.)  For a healthy herbal coffee recipe alternative, click here.  The healthiest caffeinated teas are green tea and guayusa.  Guayusa is an Amazonian tea in the holly family (a relative of Mate), but does not contain tannins so will not deplete your body of B vitamins.

The noncaffeinated teas most supportive or gentle for those wanting to prevent migraine are listed below.  They are all delicious and many are also medicinal. My current favorite hot beverage is chamomile tea with honey and coconut cream (also a prebiotic). The last three in the list here are bitter and therefore supportive of liver health.

  • ginger
  • chamomile
  • holy basil
  • dandelion root
  • passionflower
  • lemon balm
  • black seed (nigella sativa)
  • chicory
  • peppermint
  • chaga
  • lemon balm
  • moringa
  • nettle
  • neem leaf
  • feverfew
  • butterbur

Herbs, Spices, and Flavorings

  • Liberally salt your food.  Sodium increases the uptake of Diamine Oxidase enzyme in the cell (thereby reducing histamine). It also helps cells to stay hydrated by bringing water into the cell.  Additionally, it helps to increase blood volume, meaning more blood will get to the head, preventing migraine.  Salt can raise blood pressure, which for most people with migraine is good (since migraineurs generally have low blood pressure). Unfortunately, most sea salt has been shown to be contaminated with plastic estrogens.  Therefore, use Himalayan pink salt or any other salt mined from ancient stores.
  • The most supportive spices are ginger, garlic, onion, chive, parsley, cardamom, oregano, pepper, thyme, rosemary, mint, black pepper, black seed (nigella sativa, roasted), mustard, and basil.  Many of these spices have anti-inflammatory and medicinal compounds.
  • You can also get creative adding flavor to foods with lemon zest, orange zest, lavender water, or rose water.
  • Absolutely remember to avoid the top high-histamine spices: cayenne, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, chilli. Also watch out for turmeric (curcumin), which is high in salycilates and reduces DAO.

Sauces & Dressings

It’s true that eating low histamine can be pretty dire in the sauces department.  Many sauces contain MSG, soy sauce, vinegar, or some kind of “umami” (Japanese for “goodness”) flavor.  Without these high histamine flavor options, it’s true that food will be a bit more bland. Below are a few options

  • Homemade tomato relish instead of catsup (use fresh tomatoes, lemon juice, salt, and maple syrup and blend).  Tomato does have some naturally-occuring MSG in it but fresh tomato should not be a problem for those who do not have chronic migraine – wheareas tomato paste and sauce is more potent and problematic.
  • Cheese-free pesto
  • Nut-based creamy sauces, like this creamy ranch dressing
  • Cream-based sauces like this lemon cream sauce are fine as long as they don’t contain additional cheese or wine.

Dairy

Because most dairy consumed is in cultured or fermented form (yoghurt, cheese, etc), eating low-histamine means cutting out most dairy. On the other hand, dairy contains prebiotic galactooligosaccharides as well as riboflavin and balanced electrolytes.  I have had clients report getting temporary alleviation from raw milk fasts! (Although unfortunately, the results weren’t repeatable).

Caution around dairy consumption is important, though, because dairy is mucous-forming as well as acidifying.  Many people can’t handle the casein, lactose, or milk proteins as they change after pasteurization (as compared to raw dairy).

The safest dairy to eat is butter, ghee, cream and milk (ideally in raw form).  The safest form of cheese is fresh mozarella cheese (but eating this won’t help you prevent migraine, it will just add a smaller load to your histamine than, say, parmesan cheese will). Opt for the freshest, most local organic unpasteurized milk if it is available.  Raw milk contains valuable enzymes for digesting milk.  Unfortunately many local producers of raw milk can’t afford organic grain so it can be challenging to find both local and organic milk.

Grains

These days, with the dominant trend in Paleo cooking, grains are being avoided by more and more people.  Grains are carbohydrates, and carbs are also being demonized.  I will never be able to demonize carbs, because it is through consumption of prebiotic starches found in carbohydrate foods that I got well. I have seen mixed evidence as to how bad the presence of phytates in grains really are. Phytates contain inositol, which is an essential compound for improving receptivity in neurons to important neurotransmitters. I believe that grains are an important part of a healthy diet, eaten in moderation. On the other hand there is evidence that relying on too many grains, especially whole grains with the bran intact (where the phytic acid is) can lead to nutrient deficiencies.

  • For migraine, quinoa is the most supportive grain, for reasons already mentioned (helps detoxify the liver of xenoestrogens and also methylate).
  • Rice is an important grain for those with migraine as it is a prebiotic when served cold (though rice grown in the deep South of the United States is often contaminated with arsenic – YUM).
  • Corn can be problematic because culturally, we don’t usually process it in the way that traditional cultures did through use of wood ash lye (this is known as nixtamalization).  Consuming polenta and corn chips not processed through nixtamalization can lead to niacin deficiencies – so if you eat corn, opt for tortillas, tamales, hominy, or other corn products properly processed with lye.
  • Millet is the most alkaline grain, though it is very high in oxalates and can interfere with thyroid function as well as contribute to pellagra (niacin deficiency), so avoid millet.
  • Wheat contributes to glutamate load. A very small amount of organic wheat, if tolerated, is fine.I believe that the majority of problems people are having with grains (and especially wheat) has to do with:
  • the presence of herbicides and pesticides sprayed on conventional grains, especially the presence of glyphosate/roundup on conventional wheat
  • inability to properly process carbs due to gut flora imbalances and subsequent vitamin B depletion necessary for proper carbohydrate metabolism
  • rancidity in grains, especially grains that are milled
  • oxalates in grains, which people are intolerant to due to the presence of pesticides and herbicides in their diet, from which the body makes oxalates. (For a great podcast on oxalates, click here).
  • the presence of vitamins used to fortify grains, such as folic acid in wheat, which is not well tolerated by those with migraine due to the fact that it contributes to glutamate overload
  • the presence of potassium bromate and other flour treatments, especially in wheat, which may interfere with thyroid function
  • the fact that many grains like wheat are specially bred now to contain higher amounts of gluten than those in the wheat strains we evolved eating
  • genetic engineering of grains: while wheat is technically not an approved genetically engineered product, large test plots of GMO wheat have contaminated the food supply.
  • Cross-contamination of GMO corn grown for feed has also infiltrated the corn supply.  (Blue corn is the safest corn to eat and also high in selenium).

Nuts and Seeds

The crucial thing to keep in mind when consuming nuts and seeds is their rancidity.  Nuts and seeds can be preserved and stored in the freezer for a few months to prevent this.  Nuts and seeds are amazing healing foods because they contain many important minerals like copper and zinc, vitamin E, as well as selenium and tryptophan needed for proper neurotransmitter functioning.  However, nuts are also a known migraine trigger.  I believe this is because they are generally high in arginine, which feeds latent herpes viruses living on the cranial nerves and in the brain, as explained here.

Brazil nuts are well known to be high in selenium so many people eat a few of these daily to get sufficient selenium.  Unfortunately because Brazil nut trees do not require selenium themselves, their uptake of selenium is entirely dependent on the soil the tree is growing in and is highly variable.  They also go rancid easily.

With all of these considerations, eating very small portions of fresh, unroasted and unsalted nuts according to tolerance is healthy. One way to do this is to buy your nuts with the shell on, as this keeps them fresh and prevents overeating.

Beans and Pulses

As mentioned in the section on prebiotic foods, beans and pulses are a very valuable source of nutrition for those battling migraine – they are full of prebiotics and protein as well as important B vitamins.  If you tolerate them, they should be eaten liberally. Many people who think they don’t do well with beans may want to try waiting a few weeks before ruling them out – it could be that the prebiotics are causing increased gas as they change the gut flora for the better.  Gas is a normal and expected side-effect of eating prebiotic foods initially, but this dies down after a few weeks of consistent consumption. If you are sensitive to the lectins in beans you will need to address that before being able to reap the benefits of beans. However, I am not convinced that lectins are necessarily a huge problem especially as they are disabled by heat.  It could be the presence of other things such as sulfur in beans that give people issues when they have an underlying sulfur sensitivity.

Sweets

Many migraineurs have trouble with sweets and carbs.  This is due in part to depleted gut flora and the subsequent low B vitamin levels needed to process carbs.  For those who do tolerate some sweets, the best sweeteners are small amounts of maple syrup, honey, or coconut sugar. Honey is actually a prebiotic (though it also contains sulfur).

Some foods, such as carob and coconut meat, provide less concentrated sweet flavor.  Feel free to peruse my recipe section for safer sweet treats, such as my “Lower Histamine Carob Almond Fudge Recipe” and others.  When in doubt, eat seasonal fresh organic fruit for a sugar fix if you tolerate it. Absolutely avoid all dried fruit including dates and raisins as these are major migraine triggers.

Avoid these Obvious (but Unfortunately Ubiquitous) “Foods” – if You Don’t Already

It should go without saying that in addition to avoiding fermented and high histamine foods, it is important not to consume “food-like” substances (aka, highly processed “foods”), genetically-engineered foods, foods sprayed with herbicides and pesticides, and animal products from animals raised on genetically-engineered grains or foods sprayed heavily with herbicides and pesticides.  In other words, in addition to eating low histamine, eat organic and local as much as possible if you really want to prevent migraine.

Best Food Storage – Canned, Tetrapack, or Frozen?

For those times when you are unable to eat completely fresh food, opt for frozen food over canned food.  Even BPA-free cans contain harmful chemicals.  Anything that is shelf stable is probably not supportive of migraine and will contain histamine, tyramine, putrescine or cadaverine.  Any food that is shelf-stable could be a potential migraine trigger, whether from the way that food changed on the shelf or because of the packaging they sit in.  Foods that you normally would buy in tetrapacks, such as nutmilks, broths, etc should be discarded and made from scratch.

Finally, Perform a Fridge and Cabinet Audit if You Really Want to Prevent Migraine

Many of the problematic foods will be in your cabinets in the form of condiments and canned foods. Also the doors of your fridge will contain many histamine-triggering foods as well. Refer to the list of high-histamine foods and systematically rid your kitchen of them – or designate them to a separate shelf if you live with people who eat histamine-rich foods. It’s hard to resist temptation and prevent migraine when these foods are scattered througout your kitchen.

After you’ve done the purge of histamine-rich foods, set the intention to eat organic whenever possible.  While organic standards do not ensure that foods are completely free from chemicals, eating them does lower our exposure by orders of magnitude – for some foods more than others.  If you cannot afford organic food (we all could if it was subsidized in the same way “conventional” food was), it is worthwhile to take the time to educate yourself about which foods are the most heavily sprayed.  Spinach, strawberries, and potatoes, for example, absolutely need to be eaten organic as these are some of the most pesticide-laden crops.  Click here to educate yourself about the Environmental Health Working Group’s “Dirty Dozen”, and other resources for eating clean, such as their “Clean Fifteen” list of conventional foods least sprayed.  EWG even has a Healthy Living App.

One food that absolutely must be eaten organic is wheat – if it is eaten at all – as well as barley, beans, and oats – all of which are often sprayed with roundup (Glyphosate) at harvest time to evenly dry and “ripen” them before going to market.

 

 

Low Histamine Rainbow Succotash Breakfast Recipe

I’ve found a delicious, healthy breakfast that my whole family loves eating.  It’s very easy to prepare and it gets me started off on the right foot because this dish offers lots of healthy fats to support my lymphatic system and loads me up with minerals and prebiotics (resistant starch in the beans, arabinogalactans in the carrots).  The sulfur in the cabbage supports sulfation detoxification pathways, and the potassium and magnesium in the kale support electrolyte balance.

What makes this dish more than just healthy but boring steamed vegetables is the corn and the fat.  The corn adds a lovely sweet flavor that balances our the greens – and the ghee, olive oil, seasonings and the beans make this meal very filling, flavorful, and satisfying.

If you prepare the kale, carrots, corn, and cabbage ahead of time – chopping and grating them finely as pictured below, then spinning them in a salad spinner – this meal can be made very quickly. I make large amounts of this mixture and keep them in a big bag in the fridge.  Then I just sautee the garlic in ghee, throw in the veggie mixture, add the black beans for reheating in the side of the pan, and dish up in a matter of minutes.

I also like to sprinkle this dish with some mild New Mexico chile (since my histamine isn’t so high anymore).  If you are very sensitive to histamine, you could use paprika instead.  It’s the spicy capsaicin in the seeds of chillis that triggers migraine, not the sweet meat of mild chilli or peppers.  Alternately, if you cannot handle any chilli at all, use lots of black pepper, as this helps raise blood pressure.

I use both ghee and olive oil in this dish to get the benefits of both.  Fat helps the vitamins and minerals in cooked vegetables to become more bioavailable.  The butyric acid in the ghee will help feed healthy gut bacteria, and the Omega-3 fatty acids will help lower inflammation.  The olive oil drizzled on top afterwards will help to reduce histamine and raise diamine oxidase.

My husband likes to put a fried egg or two on top of his.  The choline in egg yolks is excellent for raising methylation. Remember to load on the salt, we need it!

Ingredients for 2 Meals of Succotash:

3 cloves of chopped fresh garlic, sauteed in
3 T of clarified butter/ghee
4 cups of prepared chopped cabbage, kale, grated carrot, and frozen or fresh corn
2 cups of black beans
chilli, pepper, paprika, and salt to taste
drizzle of olive oil
garnish with cilantro, avocado
2 fried eggs (optional)
Squeeze of lemon or lime (optional)

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://www.simplywell.info/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Marya.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Marya Gendron is a biodynamic craniosacral therapist, health coach, and wellness researcher. She specializes in chronic migraine headache relief and alleviation of brain fog, indigestion, and histamine intolerance through plant-based solutions.

The SimplyWell Protocol is available here, or you can book a consultation with Marya.
Learn more about Marya’s healing journey here.
[/author_info] [/author]

Migraine Headaches Caused in Part by Antibiotics

Are Migraine Headaches Caused by Antibiotics?

[et_pb_section admin_label=”section”][et_pb_row admin_label=”row”][et_pb_column type=”4_4″][et_pb_text admin_label=”Text” background_layout=”light” text_orientation=”left” use_border_color=”off” border_color=”#ffffff” border_style=”solid”]

The majority of people do not think that antibiotics cause migraine headaches – or that pharmaceutical medications used to manage their migraines may be directly inhibiting their ability to heal.

If you ask most people with migraines if indigestion, inflammation, muscle tension, and hormones are all part of their migraine headaches, quite a few of them will say YES. Many of these people are also aware that getting plenty of potassium and magnesium is important for proper electrolyte balance, but may not understand why their electrolyte levels are off.

Increasingly, more and more people are also aware of a disorder called Histamine Intolerance, and understand that their indigestion and migraine headaches may be resulting from an overload of histamine which occurs in the gut when the body is unable to break histamine and tyramine-rich foods down due to an enzyme deficiency (primarily, DAO, aka diamine oxidase).

Most migraineurs are also aware that dilated blood vessels are implicated in migraines, but won’t see a connection between their low blood pressure and the blood vessel dilation during migraine.

This constellation of symptoms can be very difficult to understand, and rarely do we see a clear presentation for what these different symptoms have to do with each other much less what their underlying cause is.

In this article, I’d like to share with you the pieces of the puzzle as I have come to understand them in the process of healing my own migraine headaches and histamine intolerance.  It’s my (layperson’s) belief that even sporadic antibiotics cause migraine by way of negatively affecting primarily the gut flora and the kidneys.

Laypeople and medical doctors use the term “cause” and “causation” differently.  Strictly speaking, it is inaccurate to claim that antibiotics “cause” migraine headaches, in the sense that we know that many migraine headaches have other or multiple confounding causes as well.  In a very general way, this article is simply pointing out that antibiotics can be one of the major causative factors in the development of migraines in many but not all cases of migraine, and that this is often not fully recognized.  Clearly, antibiotics is a huge category of drugs with many different specific effects depending on the type of antibiotic used, but generally speaking, they are all recognized to negatively impact gut flora balance and kidney health.

Please note that this hypothesis and all the information contain here is based off of my own research, self-experimentation and observations helping others as an experientally-trained health coach, and not as a traditionally-trained medical doctor.

Mainstream and Alternative Classifications of Migraine Headache and the Role of Pharmaceuticals in Migraine Causation

The International Headache Society’s ICHD-3 classification system outlines three types of migraine: migraine with aura, migraine without aura, and retinal migraine. Migraine types formerly thought to be distinctive disorders, such as chronic migraine and hemiplagic migraine, are now being classified as “complications” of migraine.

In contrast, clinical nutritionist Byron J. Richards has created his own classification system for migraine headaches because, “From a practical point of view the different types of headaches that Western medicine classifies have little use in fixing the source of the problem and stopping the headaches from happening in the first place.”  He classifies migraines into four types of headache: Lymphatic/Pressure Headaches, Hormonal Headaches, Blood/Toxic Headaches, and Nerve Inflammation Headaches. He says:

It is a sobering commentary on the skill of Western medicine that their toolbox for this issue is limited to a variety of pain killers – which sometimes treat or manage the pain in a symptomatic way and sometimes don’t work so well. While some type of pain killing is better than the headache, getting stuck in the rut of ongoing painkiller use is also problematic and not addressing the source of the problem.(Source)

WebMd doesn’t recognize that antibiotics cause migraines.  It describes “medication headaches” and reports that many drugs, including antibiotics, can induce “acute headache”:

Many drugs can induce acute headache, including nitroglycerin, antihypertensive agents (beta-blockers, calcium channel blockers, angiotensin-converting enzyme [ACE] inhibitors, and methyldopa), dipyridamole, hydralazine, sildenafil, histamine receptor antagonists (e.g., cimetidine and ranitidine), NSAIDs (especially indomethacin), cyclosporine, and antibiotics (especially amphotericin, griseofulvin, tetracycline, and sulfonamides).

If, however, we know that many people with histamine intolerance manifest with symptoms of migraine, the question becomes which medications in particular lower DAO or trigger mast cells to release histamine. A growing list of medications known to be indirectly implicated in migraine headaches, histamine intolerance, and mastocytosis is outlined here.

In addition to the direct impact of meds on mast cells, gut microbiome, kidneys, and liver (not to mention thyroid, pancreas, etc), it is well established that many pharmaceuticals are “Drug Muggers” – they steal vital nutrients needed by the body to make enzymes and complete any number of important functions, like facilitating muscle relaxation. (So, deficiencies in vitamins and minerals caused by pharmaceuticals can contribute to hypertension of muscles in the neck and cervical area.  These nutritional deficiencies are compounded by gut inflammation and leaky gut caused by antibiotics).

Notice that none of the explanations in this section for how meds affect us implicate antibiotics in chronic migraine. So why do I insist that antibiotics are the main culprit?  Because their use leads to a predominance of histamine-producing bacteria in the colon, and hormonal, electrolyte, and blood pressure problems that manifest due to kidney dysfunction. If we look at the history of people with migraines, they almost all have had numerous doses of antibiotics throughout their life (who hasn’t?).  Many who have tried my protocol confirm that their migraine headaches started after a major surgery or dose of antibiotics. This assault so undermined their own body’s resilience that a chronic debilitating condition resulted.

It’s my view that these cases are not a result of that single dose of antibiotics or pharmaceuticals, but rather, that the person was already compromised from intermittent antibiotic use throughout their life and that one incident was the straw that broke the camel’s back.  As with many other pharmaceuticals (such as vaccines), the question is: how many doses can the body handle, and at which point is a threshold reached that tips the body over into chronic inflammatory disease?

All medications probably affect the microbiome, which explains why people who take daily pain meds or migraine meds do not respond as well to the SimplyWell Migraine Relief Protocol as those who only do occasionally. From an evolutionary perspective, pharmaceuticals and synthetic chemicals are novel and challenging for our bodies. We did not evolve to process them.

Why do so many people with migraine headaches have high levels of histamine?

It’s great that more and more people, including physicians, are becoming aware of the problem of histamine intolerance. Anyone familiar with histamine intolerance will know that DAO (diamine oxidase) is one of the enzymes that breaks down tyramine and histamine, both of which are found in a lot of foods, especially aged or fermented foods (and supplements).  Therefore, the idea goes, histamine intolerance is caused by low DAO levels. This is the classical perspective on histamine intolerance.  It’s also well known that some opiates trigger mast cells to degranulate and release histamine that way.  This is called mastocytosis.  So clearly there are many routes through which one can end up with a lot of inflammation (ie, histamine) in the body. A DAO level test can be done, but if a person were to show normal levels of DAO, this would not mean that they don’t have histamine intolerance, in my view.  It would only mean that there was so much histamine in the body that even normal DAO levels couldn’t break it all down.

I personally prefer to refer to the symptoms of an overfull “bucket” of histamine as “Histamine Overload” rather than “Histamine Intolerance.”  “Histamine Intolerance” implies there is a malfunction in the person’s body, whereas “Histamine Overload” correctly describes an excessive amount of histamine caused by factors that have overwhelmed the body’s ability to break it down.

I feel its always important to remember that the view of disease that sees the body as a malfunctioning machine that needs to be fixed is outdated and inaccurate. The body is incredibly sophisticated and intelligent, and sends off alarm signals and symptoms when it has been assaulted, overwhelmed, or is lacking the support it needs to function optimally.

I think the more important and overlooked factors in Histamine Overload manifesting as migraine headaches (besides low DAO) are:

  • Excessive bacteria in the gut (colon) that produce histamine.  (Histamine-producing bacteria include: Lactobacillus casei, Lactobacillus delbrueckii, Lactobacillus bulgaricus, Lactobacillus reuteri, and Lactococcus lactis, Enterococcus faecalis, and various types of E. coli.This is rectified by prebiotics that feed friendly bacteria, as outlined in the SimplyWell Migraine Protocol.
  • Estrogen dominance.  Estrogen is known to suppress DAO and increase histamine. Estrogen dominance is also addressed through the ingestion of specific plants in the SimplyWell Migraine Protocol.
  • Damaged cell receptor sites for DAO. DAO receptor sites are affected by Na+ and Cl- levels, ie, electrolyte balance (Source here).  Could the damage to the the kidneys and the subsequent effects on electrolyte balance be affecting not only DAO levels, but also cells’ receptivity to DAO? The SimplyWell Migraine Protocol improves electrolyte balance and cell receptivity to DAO.

Why do so many people with migraine headaches have dilated blood vessels, low blood pressure, and electrolyte imbalances?

There seem to be mixed views as to whether migraine is an issue of constricted or dilated blood vessels.  But it is clear that with migraine, there is less than optimal blood flow and that this leads to loss of oxygen to the brain and attendant pain.

Constricted blood vessels would seem to logically be the cause of lack of blood flow, whereas it would seem dilated blood vessels would lead to more blood flow. However, the opposite is true.  The important key to understand here is that dilated blood vessels are also associated with low blood pressure.  Most migraineurs have low blood pressure, so while the vessels may be dilated and wide open for the blood to flow, if the pressure of that blood is low, it will not be able to bring the blood and oxygen to the head.

Additionally, low blood pressure will prevent good circulation to the extremities, which is why many with migraine headaches have cold hands and feet, tingling in hands and feet, and various peripheral neuropathy issues.

So the root question is actually, “Why do so many migraineurs have low blood pressure?”  Well, what regulates blood pressure?  The kidneys do.  They regulate blood pressure partially by way of how they regulate electrolyte balance.  Antibiotics are known to cause electrolyte imbalances via damage to the kidneys. This can be mitigated as outlined in the SimplyWell Protocol by consuming the optimal levels of potassium to sodium electrolytes (2:1 ratio), which will raise blood pressure, increase DAO levels, and improve cellular respiration and metabolic function.

As it turns out, there are also bacteria in the digestive tract that help to regulate blood pressure as well.  Therefore, anything that assaults the colonic bacterial balance and the kidneys (ie, antibiotics) will seriously compromise a person’s ability to regulate their blood pressure.

Researchers at The Johns Hopkins University and Yale University have discovered that a specialized receptor, normally found in the nose, is also in blood vessels throughout the body, sensing small molecules created by microbes that line mammalian intestines, and responding to these molecules by increasing blood pressure. The finding suggests that gut bacteria are an integral part of the body’s complex system for maintaining a stable blood pressure. (Source)

To make matters even worse, stress also dilates blood vessels, as does histamine.  So once you are caught in a state of inflammation and high histamine, which in and of itself is very stressful, your blood vessels will be constantly dilated.  When this happens, small amounts of blood proteins (fibrin, glubulin, and albumin) leak into the interstitial spaces, get trapped around the cells compromising optimal electrolyte balance and cellular respiration, and congest the lymphatic system.  When the lymphatic system is congested and cannot be fully cleaned out via the venous blood because the kidneys are congested from antibiotics, varying degrees of sepsis result.

I’d like to give credit to Angela Stanton (creator of the Stanton Protocol) for her insights into low blood pressure and the importance of salt to raise blood pressure.  Stanton’s protocol is based on reduced carbohydrate consumption and increased potassium and salt intake.  Her protocol does not address histamine intolerance or inflammation in the gut, however.  The prebiotics in the SimplyWell Migraine Protocol are an example of how healthy sugars from root vegetables can and do lower insulin sensitivity, thereby making carbohydrates easier for the pancreas to process, and less triggering for migraineurs.

What role do hormones play in migraine headaches?

The adrenal glands sit atop our kidneys and regulate our stress hormones.  Going through a surgery or getting antibiotics is extremely stressful, especially if the damage done from that surgery leads to a debilitating condition like chronic migraine headaches.

For many women like myself, the triggering surgery may have been a c-section operation.  So on top of antibiotics and the stress from the surgery, the mother is going to have taxed adrenals from sleep deprivation from caring for her child, and in some cases years of breastfeeding which can be literally very draining even in the absence of migraine headaches.  There are clearly many compounding factors that contribute to stress and adrenal fatigue, but I contend that it is the original stress to the kidneys from antibiotics and surgery that undermine the mother’s ability to be resourced and resilient in the face of the new challenges of motherhood.

The adrenal glands use progesterone to make cortisol. Therefore, the more stressed out you are, and the the more cortisol you produce, the more progesterone you will need to manufacture it.  Progesterone puts the brakes on estrogen.  If progesterone becomes depleted because of the high demands on it by the adrenals, there will be an excess of estrogen in the system.  Estrogen suppresses DAO, thus leading to excessive histamine.

The liver processes estrogen. Many people try to treat their migraines by focusing on liver health, but it may make more sense to heal the gut first and thereby support the liver. Some bacteria in the colon act to help detoxify the body, and therefore can be seen as a “second liver” (see Dr. Perlmutter’s book “Brain Maker” for more info). If the liver is already overloaded because the colonic bacteria that act as the second liver are missing, the liver will be more compromised, further contributing to the hormonal imbalance.

Luckily, this situation can be mitigated by improving gut flora balance and eating estrogen-reducing foods like raw carrot as featured in the SimplyWell Protocol. Once the most debilitating symptoms of histamine overload and migraine headache subside, sleep patterns will be re-established, the body can rest and repair itself and the kidneys/adrenals will gradually heal.

The SimplyWell Migraine Protocol can mitigate the damage done to the gut and kidneys by antibiotics.

It’s important to note that while clearly, not all migraine headaches have the same root causes, people with different migraine types are responding well to the SimplyWell Migraine Protocol, indicating that in many cases, migraines with the same root cause (imbalanced gut flora and compromised kidneys) can manifest with different symptoms in different people.

I developed the SimplyWell Protocol in January of 2016. It is a completely drug-free, plant-based approach to migraine headaches that relies on the use of specific vegetables and fruits (especially prebiotics available in various humble starchy roots) to feed healthy gut flora, balance estrogen levels, clean out the liver and gallbladder, and support kidney function (and thereby lymphatic health).

I didn’t fully understand why or how the protocol worked when I first discovered it, but the past nine months of research have shown me specifically why the plants used in the protocol work so well, and has helped me to connect the dots as to how and to what extent my different migraine symptoms were related to each other.

It was through the firsthand experience of reducing inflammation in my colon and the subsequent disappearance of my migraines that I realized that compromised digestion was the primary source of my histamine load and therefore, that antibiotics were the primary culprit in my imbalance. It was also in the process of cleaning up my diet and doing a few six day grape fasts which flushed my kidneys out of large chunks of mucous that I started to look into the connection between antibiotics and kidney disease.  It is well established that antibiotics damage the liver, thyroid, gallbladder, and kidneys, but it took me months to realize the implications of compromised kidney function on blood pressure, hormonal and electrolyte balance, and chronic migraine headaches.

The bottom line?

There is an enormous need for us to discover alternatives to pharmaceutical treatment, which are not only ineffective at addressing the root cause, but in many cases are exacerbating or undermining the body’s self-healing abilities.  This suppressive approach to medicine is in its death-throes.  People are waking up to a new paradigm of medicine that involves a return to common-sense, self-care, and natural solutions.  The problems is that while many people believe in a very general way that food is medicine, it can take years to discover which foods are the best medicine for specific conditions like chronic migraine headaches.

We are in the process of reclaiming our Folk Medicine and also discovering new applications for plant-based solutions that address modern problems largely caused by pharmaceuticals that our grandparents didn’t have to deal with and so were not in the lexicon of their Folk Medicine before it was lost.

I’m overjoyed to offer the Simplywell Migraine Protocol to the Folk as a gift from Mother Nature as she continually reveals options for us that are gentle, nourishing and profoundly effective at addressing intense chronic pain conditions such as migraine headaches. Part of my excitement in sharing these plant-based solutions comes from all the positive “side-effects” of truly holistic medicine (like clear skin, more energy, deeper sleep, improved gum health, diminished PMS and cramping during menstruation, etc).  The good news is that the body doesn’t know how to selectively heal, which is why a whole host of bothersome long-term ailments simply dissolve once the body is truly supported through proper nutrition.

It’s my hope that we can start to wake up to the reality of the damaging effects that antibiotic medications are having on our whole physiology, which for some of us manifests as migraines.  Luckily, there are very simple, affordable, and gentle plant-based solutions to reverse this damage, as outlined in my SimplyWell Migraine Protocol

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://www.simplywell.info/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Marya.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Marya Gendron is a biodynamic craniosacral therapist and health coach specializing in chronic migraine headache relief and alleviation of brain fog, indigestion, and histamine intolerance through plant-based solutions. She practices out of Portland, Oregon. In January of 2016, Marya healed herself of chronic debilitating migraine headaches caused by pharmaceutical medications she received after a c-section operation. Her life purpose is to educate people about broader health-care and self-care options through promotion of specific fabulous medicinal foods that have been forgotten or ignored. She is actively trying to form a Folk Medicine movement to transform the culture of suppresive and poisonous medications to one of holistic health accomplished through an educated, pro-active, and mutually-supportive community.[/author_info] [/author]

 

[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][/et_pb_section]

Why I Adore Prebiotics

To put it simply, I adore prebiotics because they literally saved my life.  They cured my migraines, reduced my overall inflammation, got rid of my brain fog and insomnia, improved my sleep and blood sugar metabolism, and generally peeled me off the floor so I could stand upright again, engage with my son and husband, and hold a job again.

If this is what carbs and sugars (specifically, fructo-oligosaccharides) can do for me, I can’t help but adore them. The potato, being the first prebiotic I consciously ate knowing its properties, deserves a rightful place on my altar.  I don’t exaggerate when I say that I bow down to the potato (and the carrot, and the radish) in humble appreciation.

Why did it take me so long to find out about prebiotics?  Why did none of the practitioners who I saw know or tell me about the miraculous properties of these humble starches? Could it be that, unlike the glorified probiotics, prebiotics aren’t as popular because they can’t be packaged and sold at such a great profit?  Have prebiotics been needlessly vilified because of people’s aversion to carbs and sugars? Could it be that many people suffering from digestive issues triggered by carbs actually really need them?  Yes.  Chris Kesser agrees. 

Prebiotics are foods that feed friendly bacteria in our colon (as compared to probiotics, which introduce friendly flora.  Many probiotic supplements and foods will cause migraines for people with histamine intolerance, because they are made through a fermentation process and contain tyramines).  There are numerous kinds of prebiotics, including FOS (fructo oligosaccharides), GOS (galacto-oligosaccharides), arabinogalactans, inulin and resistant starch.  The SimplyWell Migraine Relief Protocol focuses on the use of inulin, arabinogalactans, and resistant starch.

Initially, the SimplyWell Migraine Relief Protocol only utilized resistant starch as prebiotics.  It then dawned on me that if I wanted to feed as diverse an array of healthy bacteria in my colon, it would probably be beneficial to diversify my sources of prebiotics.  Which is when I started to include inulin and pectin (with the Garden of Life brand of prebiotics).  Arabinogalactans were featured already in my protocol before I even knew about them, as I had through chance chosen two foods that are highest in arabinogalactans: carrots and radishes.

Below are some notes I’ve taken on each of my favorite prebiotics.  As I avoid dairy animal products, GOS (Galacto-oligosaccharides) are not included in this list.

Resistant Starch

(This info was adapted from an article in Mark’s Daily Apple called “The Definitive Guide to Resistant Starch”).

>> Resistant starch is “the sum of starch and products of starch degradation not absorbed in the small intestine of healthy individuals.” So, resistant starch remains intact until it reaches the colon, where gut flora there metabolize it and convert it into short chain fatty acids.  Actually, the word ※starch§ is misleading because resistant starch is actually a type of fiber.

>> There are four types of resistant starch. RS Type 1 〝 Starch bound by indigestible plant cell walls; found in many beans, grains, and seeds; RS Type 2 〝 Starch that is intrinsically indigestible in the raw state due to its high amylose content; found in potatoes, bananas, plantains. (Type 2 RS changes its starch structure upon heating and at that point is digestible in the small intestine.  Since we want to be feeding the colonic bacteria, and not the bacteria in the small intestine, cooking these foods will diminish the therapeutic effect since it converts the starch type to non-resistant starch with heat); RS Type 3 〝 Retrograded starch.  This includes cooked and then cooled potatoes, rice, and beans.  While cooking Type 2 starches and eating them hot removes the resistant starch, this third type of resistant starch will develop once the food has cooled and provide benefit if the food is eaten cold and not reheated; RS Type 4 〝 Industrial resistant starch; type 4 RS doesn’t occur naturally and has been chemically modified; commonly found in “hi-maize resistant starch.”  This is generally not used as a form of resistant starch by those seeking the benefits of resistant starch.

(IMPORTANT NOTE: Currently, we do not know if RS2 or RS3 is more effective at reducing migraines, whether both are equally effective or if RS2 is more effective.  We’ve definitely seen people using RS2 (raw starch) recover.  Those who have been relying on RS3 (cooked and then cooled starch) are not seeing the same benefit but those who have been relying on that form so far have been on more medications.)

>> For the purposes of healing the colon, RS types 2 and 3 are relevant.  The best fresh food sources are raw potatoes, green bananas, tiger nuts, plantains, cooked-and-cooled potatoes, cooked-and-cooled-rice, parboiled rice, cooked-and-cooled legumes.  Resistant starch is also available in the form of dry powders and flours, including raw potato starch, plantain flour, tiger nut flour, green banana flour, and cassava/tapioca starch.  These starches can be added to juice or into smoothies for a quick and easy dose of resistant starch.

>> RS Preferentially feeds “good” bacteria responsible for butyrate production. Once the bacteria in our colon eat the resistant starch, they produce butyrate as a byproduct.  Butyrate is the prime energy source of our colonic cells.  Resistant starch promotes more butyrate production than other prebiotics.  However, the amount of butyrate produced will depend on which kind of gut flora live in your colon when you introduce the starch, so it varies from person to person.  Presumably, people who have received antibiotics will have smaller populations of beneficial bacteria, so a gradual process of repopulation will occur with the introduction of resistant starch.

>> RS Improves gut function and integrity. Resistant starch basically improves the functionality of the gut by increasing colonic hypertrophy.  Because it reduces leaky gut, RS also helps to prevent endotoxins from getting into your blood circulation. And thanks to this improved gut integrity, RS also helps to increases magnesium absorption (and by extension, probably other essential minerals and vitamins as well).

>> RS improves insulin sensitivity, even in people with metabolic syndrome.  RS also lowers the post-prandial blood glucose spike, which may also extend to subsequent meals. RS also reduces fasting blood sugar.

>> RS increases satiety, making it easier to maintain other healthy eating habits and avoid snacking on junk food.

>> RS may preferentially bind to and expel ※bad§ bacteria. This is only preliminary, but there’s evidence that resistant starch may actually treat small intestinal bacterial overgrowth by “flushing” the pathogenic bacteria out in the feces. It’s also been found to be an effective treatment for cholera when added to the rehydration formula given to patients; the cholera bacteria attach themselves to the RS granules almost immediately for expulsion.

>> Anecdotal reports also confirm that regular RS intake may be associated with better sleep, lower body fat and increased lean mass,  improved thyroid function and mental calm.

>> Due to all of these benefits, many people take too much RS too fast and get gas, bloating, cramping, diarrhea or constipation.  These side-effects are a result of the population of bacteria in the gut changing from “bad” bacteria over to beneficial bacteria.  Going gradual and slow seems to work best (especially if you have SIBO).  Butyrate production usually increases at three weeks, when most people will experience some degree of gas and bloating, which usually subsides.  More episodes of gas and bloating may occur as the intake is increased.  These side effects usually stabilize and diminish in a few days.

>> The average intake of RS in China is 14.9 g/day from wheat, rice and starch products; compared with average USA 3-8 g/day intake.

>> One medium organic potato, juiced, yields one tablespoon of resistant starch.

>> Organic tiger nut flour is one good source of RS and is available through Organic Gemini brand but is more expensive than organic potato starch.  8 Tablespoons of tigernut flour are needed to get 3 tablespoons of starch.

Inulin-based Prebiotics

>> Inulin is a heterogeneous mixture of fructose polymers found in nature as plant repository carbohydrates.

>> The best natural food sources of inulin include bananas, asparagus, Jerusalem artichoke, jicama, leeks, onions, garlic, chicory, dandelion greens, stevia, and dandelion root.

>> Being a prebiotic, inulin confers many of the same benefits that resistant starch does mentioned above.  It creates greater diversity of beneficial gut flora in the colon, increases butyrate production, supports healthy blood sugar and bowel regularity, improves cardiovascular health, increases nutrient absorption and boosts immune function.

>> Inulin helps to decrease serum cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

>> Those who have taken antibiotics may need more inulin. Those who eat a lot of sugary foods, alcohol, and processed foods benefit more from inulin, since these foods deplete our body of healthy bacteria.

>> Ancient hunter-gatherers used to eat up to 135 g of inulin fructans per day.  The average intake in the US is 1-4g.  Experts like Dr. Perlmutter recommends at least 12 g of inulin per day.

>> Daily intake of inulin significantly decreases disease activity and significantly increases the amount of IL-10-positive mucosal dendritic cells and toll-like receptors 2 and 4 of these cells in those with Crohn’s disease.

>> Inulin is used for rehydration and remineralization after loss of water from diarrhea and diaphoresis.

Arabinogalactans

>> Arabinogalactans are present in carrots, radishes, coconut meat and milk, echinacea, astragalus, shitake mushroom, black gram beans, pears, maize, red wine, rye, tomatoes, sorghum, bamboo grass, and larch fiber.

>> Like all prebiotics, arabinogalactans help feed healthy bacteria in the colon which produce butyrate; they help improve insulin sensitivity, sleep, and nutrient absorption.

>> They function as immune activity normalizers. If your body is battling an infection, arabinogalactans power up the attack against the invading organism or virus. If your immune system is too revved up, arabinogalactans can help suppress this over activity.

>> Arabinogalactans inhibit the ability of toxic bacteria to adhere to the intestinal wall, thereby preventing infection.

>> They boost the activity of natural killer cells, which attack tumors.

>> In animal studies, arabinogalactans have reduced the spread of tumors to the liver by coating the binding sites that cancer cells would otherwise attach to.

Pectins

>> Pectin is found in higher amounts in the rinds and peels of some fruit, which is why you will sometimes see orange or apple peel listed in the ingredients of prebiotic products.

>> Pectin can help to lower blood cholesterol levels, particularly very-low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (VLDL) particles which gets converted into low-density lipoprotein (‘bad’ cholesterol) in the blood.

>> Pectin from citrus is also capable of turning inflammatory immune cells into anti-inflammatory, healing cells, which helps in recovery from infection.

> pectin has been shown to reduce levels of pathogenic bacteria and support higher amounts of friendly bacteria in the gut.

>> Kiwifruit pectin has been shown to help Lactobacillus rhamnosus adhere better to intestinal cells than inulin, while reducing the adhesion of undesirable bacterium Salmonella typhimurium.

Want to Make Your Own DIY Prebiotic Mix?
Here are some good sources for raw ingredients.

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://www.simplywell.info/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Marya.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Marya Gendron is a biodynamic craniosacral therapist and health coach specializing in chronic migraine headache relief and alleviation of brain fog, indigestion, and histamine intolerance through plant-based solutions. She practices out of Portland, Oregon. In January of 2016, Marya healed herself of chronic debilitating migraine headaches caused by pharmaceutical medications she received after a c-section operation. Her life purpose is to educate people about broader health-care and self-care options through promotion of specific fabulous medicinal foods that have been forgotten or ignored. [/author_info] [/author]