My research into my migraines ebbs and flows like the tides. Sometimes I want to know more and other times, I just want it all to go away. My quest for treatment also follows the same pattern. Recently, I heard an interesting tidbit concerning a link between fat and inflammation. As a medical person and an IT person, my brain started mulling the idea over and I thought “Wow, there could be something there.” If you’ve read my About page, you’d know that I was pregnant for 3 years. Being pregnant for 3 years equates to being heavier than I am accustom to. In the last year or so I’ve been experiencing a change in both migraine frequency/intensity AND some symptoms. While it isn’t unusual for me to have changes in my migraine symptoms every few years, the dramatic increase in migraines was markedly different.
In my most rudimentary of explanations, a migraine is most likely some sort of brain inflammation. So, I got out my most trusty source of information, the Internet. According to my readings there are two main types of fat. The first type is subcutaneous, the type they extract during liposuction. The second type of fat is visceral, the fat located directly around your organs. While information I found said this second type of fat CAN be extracted, it is risky to do so and extraction is only done in the most necessary of circumstances. Although extraction of subcutaneous fat equates to looking better in your bikini, the fat extraction that really makes health bounds is visceral fat.
What is the difference between these types of fats? It seems as though the visceral fat excretes more IL-6 and C-Reactive Protein (CRP), which are key in the inflammation process. The more visceral fats you have, the more IL-6 and CRP you have in your circulation and hence the more susceptible you are to different types of inflammation. According to one study I read they did check on the correlation between migraines and visceral fat composition and find a relationship.
Interestingly enough, this could prove from my experiences to be a cyclical experience. I find when I have more migraines I eat less healthy and cannot exercise as much. I become increasingly tired and lethargic. When you eat bad, exercise less, and sleep poorly you put your body under stress all of which lead to increase weight gain. I think the information linking fat and inflammation clearly marks the overall picture of the migraine sufferers plight. How can you avoid fat AND feel terrible at the same time? I don’t think there is an easy answer in this for us.
Although, my migraines don’t seem to have a “food” trigger, I do believe I have a weather trigger. SO I find the best way to set myself up for success is to plan around the times of year when I KNOW that I will have issues. The following elements are included in my plan for success at times of migraine duress:

1) ALWAYS place certain items in predetermined places whether there is a migraine or not. Then you can find them and not risk overlooking them while searching during a migraine episode. For example, I ALWAYS put my iPod in the right hand pocket of my jacket and my shoes by the door. SO when I go to run I KNOW where I can find it. Don’t give yourself ANY excuses because in the middle of a migraine, it is too easy to use them!!
2) Have an exercise alternative. If you were planning on running, but have a migraine, make sure you can easily substitute in yoga or a Tai Chang DVD. If you already have the plan in place, it makes it easier to enact it because you won’t have to think about what to do next.
3) MOVE MOVE MOVE. If my get up and go has gone up and went, I go for a walk anyway. It might be a slow walk, but I go at least 2 miles. I think knowing that fat is going to make my migraines worse makes it even easier for me to justify this walk or my other scheduled activity. Long term management of migraines is key in my life!!!
4) Support System, let someone in your life know that you have migraines and that going for a walk will, if not in the short term, in the long term help you overcome them. Tell them they need to help get you out of the house and moving, whether you want to or not!

Sometimes being a migraine sufferer it seems as though the odds are stacked up against me. I’m on call and I have kids. PLUS somewhere in there I have a life. My greatest fears include my migraines and some untimely occurrence of the really bad ones. However, I just keep informed of the latest in research AND I stay aware of what my body is telling me and I look inside myself for the strength to keep the smile and drive going! I know you can do the same.
How do you keep positive in the midst of migraines? I’d LOVE to hear your story!

If you’d like to look up more about fat and inflammation, here are some links:

http://newsblaze.com/story/20051101224906nnnn.nb/topstory.html

http://blogs.webmd.com/integrative-medicine-wellness/2007/04/fat-and-inflammation.html

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/booster_shots/2009/02/migraine-suffer.html