Countless celebrities have spoken of their love of the Keto diet in keeping them ‘red carpet ready’.
But the high-fat, low-carb eating plan favoured by Hollywood’s resident ‘health guru’ Gwyneth Paltrow and Bond girl Halle Berry may also prevent migraines.
Scientists in Italy analysed 35 overweight migraine sufferers. The participants tried two low-calorie diets, one of which was ketogenic.
Over the course of one month, the Keto diet caused the patients to suffer three less ‘migraine days’, on average.
The results even suggested the eating plan is more effective at relieving symptoms than leading drugs, such as erenumab.
Cutting carbs is known to trigger ketosis. This causes the body to break down fat, which leads to the production of substances called ketones.
Ketones have been linked to decreased inflammation, less ‘internal stress’ and a reduction in the brain ‘waves’ that are thought to cause migraine aura.
Gwyneth Paltrow is said to to be a fan of the Keto diet. The Shakespeare in Love actress is pictured left at the Avengers: Infinity War’ premiere in LA on April 23 last year. Halle Berry (pictured right at the Golden Globe Awards on Sunday) also follows the high-fat eating plan
The Keto diet is based on high-fat, ‘adequate’ protein and low-carb foods, the researchers wrote in the journal Nutrients.
Cutting carbs has been shown to benefit migraines as far back as the 1920s. But it was unclear whether this was down to weight loss alone or if another mechanism was at play.
To investigate this further, the researchers at the Don Carlo Gnocchi Foundation in Milan put some of the participants on a ketogenic diet of less than 800 calories a day.
Others adopted the same low calorie eating habits but these were not ketogenic.
Both diets had the same number of calories and fat, but differed in their carbohydrate and protein levels.
The participants followed these diets for four weeks, before swapping to the other one for the same length of time.
Overweight or obese people were chosen due to their bodies ‘exhibiting mild ketosis’ when their calorie intake is ‘severely restricted’, the researchers wrote.
The participants, who were otherwise healthy, were suffering from between two and 14 days of severe headaches a month.
WHAT IS THE KETO DIET?
The Ketogenic diet defines a low-carb, high-fat way of eating.
Following this eating plan forces the body into a metabolic state, known as ketosis, which starves the body of carbohydrates but not calories.
Carbs are shunned in the keto diet as they cause the body to produce glucose, which is used as energy over fat.
Keto diets therefore lead to weight loss as they make the body burn fat as its primary energy source.
On the diet, followers can eat:
- Leafy greens and most vegetables
- Full-fat dairy
- Nuts and seeds
- Avocadoes and berries
- Fats, such as coconut oil
People cannot eat:
- Grains, including rice and wheat
- Sugar, like honey and maple syrup
- Most fruit
- White or sweet potatoes
After four weeks, those on the Keto diet experienced 3.7 less ‘migraine days’ a month than those just on the low-calorie eating plan.
Twenty six of the Keto dieters (74 per cent) also had at least a 50 per cent reduction in the number of ‘headache days’, compared to just three (eight per cent) on the non-Keto plan.
This is better than the leading migraine drugs, known as CGRP monoclonal antibodies, which cut migraine days in half in around 30-to-48 per cent of sufferers, New Scientist reported.
The use of medication to relieve migraine symptoms did not differ between the two groups.
At the end of the study, all the participants provided urinary samples.
Diet ketones were detected in three quarters of those on the Keto diet and just three per cent of those in the other group.
Weight loss has been linked to a reduced risk of migraines, however, this ‘does not explain the results’ because both groups shed a similar number of pounds, the researchers wrote.
Ketones reduce ‘cortical spreading depression’ (CSD), which is the ‘likely culprit for migraine aura’, they added. CSD is defined as waves that spread through nerve cells in the brain’s cerebral cortex.
Ketones may also ‘dampen neuroinflammation and protect against oxidative stress’.
Cutting carbs could also reduce the production of the hormone insulin, which has been linked to migraines, the researchers claim.
Although an 800-calorie diet may sound tricky to maintain, the authors said migraine sufferers will do almost anything for relief.
‘[Fasting] is shown to be effective and safe in larger studies, I think it’s something that many people would be willing to try,’ lead author Dr Cherubino Di Lorenzo told New Scientist.
The team stress, however, longer, larger studies are required to confirm their findings.
Dr Christina Sun-Edelstein, a neurologist at The University of Melbourne, added: ‘There are many migraine treatments that seem to work well initially but then are ultimately disappointing.’