Besides the amazing results that I've had with the elimination of my GI symptoms, the biggest impact that I've noticed since changing my diet is a drastic reduction in migraines and headaches. I've suffered with migraines and headaches since I was a teenager and it has been such a blessing to be free from the pain I've endured for many years. Migraines usually differ from regular headaches in symptoms, with migraines being associated with more symptoms of greater severity. Although the symptoms can vary among individuals, for me, a migraine is almost always preceded by a visual aura and light sensitivity and is accompanied by severe pain, nausea, loss of appetite, extreme sound sensitivity, fatigue, and even weakness on one side of my body. There have been a few times that I've had migraines so severe that I was worried that I could be having a stroke. When I was a teenager and into my early 20's, the migraines were infrequent, with a less severe headache being more common. About 3 years ago, the migraines starting increasing in frequency and then started getting progressively more severe. It got to the point that I was having migraines on a weekly basis and they were lasting 2-3 days at a time. On days that I didn't have a migraine, I would often have a less severe headache. I can recall several occasions last winter in which I was at such pain from a migraine that I couldn't concentrate to work, but I also couldn't drive myself home. I would find an empty conference room and lie down on the floor or go outside to my car in freezing temperatures and lie down in the backseat. If you've never had a migraine, you just can't imagine the pain that is involved! I kept mentioning the difficulty that I was having to my primary care doctor, but I didn't ask for medication and she didn't offer. Instead, I was relying on over-the-counter Excedrin and ibuprofen (which most certainly did not help my GI issues and imbalance of gut bacteria at all). I will do anything to avoid taking prescription medication! It was only about 6 months ago that I decided I couldn't take it anymore and I got a prescription for Imitrex, a medication used to treat migraines. Imitrex did help quite a bit to reduce the pain from the migraine once it started, but it didn't prevent the migraine from occurring and I found that I would still have a "migraine hangover" after taking the medication. It's a bit hard to describe, but it does kind of feel like a bad hangover. I found that I was taking much more of the Imitrex than I wanted to.
I was quite ill when I embarked on a major dietary change that involved no grains, no added (cane) sugar, no dairy, no nightshades, no preservatives or food-additives, no added anything. It took me a few weeks before I started to notice the transformation that was occurring in that I hadn't had a single headache or migraine since altering my diet. The trend has continued since following this lifestyle, with the exception that I seem to get a single migraine once per month that is hormone related. It is less severe and easily controlled with the Imitrex.
I now believe that my migraines were due to with gluten sensitivity,or perhaps more accurately, grain sensitivity. Looking back, the migraines started increasing in frequency and severity about the time that I adopted a vegetarian diet, and as a result, increased the "healthy whole grains" in my diet. Interestingly, I did try a gluten-free diet before moving to the Specific Carbohydrate/GAPS/Paleo diet and the gluten-free diet had no impact on any of my symptoms, including GI symptoms or migraines. There is growing thought that removal of gluten alone is sometimes not enough for those with gluten sensitivity. Once the damage has been done to the intestinal barrier, removing gluten alone will not repair the leaky gut, which contributes to widespread inflammation. Grains also contain many other compounds besides gluten that are harmful and difficult for the body to digest.
It wasn't until I was writing this that I noticed "migraine" has the word "grain" in it. Coincidence? Perhaps, but I am loving being grain-free and (and for all practical purposes) migraine-free! Grain-free has certainly unlocked the mystery to the primary cause of my migraines.
How about you? What impact has going grain-free had on your health?