Dark Picture Migraine WomanIt’s turtles bacteria all the way down.

If you haven’t been following the tidal wave of research about probiotics, let me take a second to catch you up. Your body has more bacteria cells than “you” cells, and many of them are considered beneficial. In the gut, they help prevent food poisoning, help break down food, and are somehow able to influence a huge host of other bodily issues, from our weight, to our moods, to even our heart health and more. Our friendly bacteria can help protect our skin when we’re cut, and help prevent infection in other parts of the body, too (like the vagina, which hosts another major colony).

Without them, or if bad bacteria take hold, we soon see the bad effects: uncontrolled weight gain, chronic infections (or even just chronic inflammation), and an increased risk for superbugs (especially on the skin!), viruses, and even fungi/yeast.

Here’s another thing to add to the list, and it affects more than 5 million people each month: migraines.

A new study found that it might not just be food triggering migraines, but the composition of the bacteria in your mouth (and maybe gut) and how that bacteria is processing the foods!

Certain nitrate heavy foods like processed meats (even bacon!), leafy greens, bananas, cherries, prunes, and more bring nitrate into your body that certain bacteria you may be hosting then process into nitric oxide, which may trigger migraines.

While more work is needed to prove that correlation, it falls neatly in line with everything else scientists have been revealing about the bacteria in our bodies. And if it is true, you may be able to recover some of the healthy foods in your body by cultivating different bacteria!

How? The quickest way to is to “seed” yourself with foods naturally high in probiotics (rule of thumb: anything fermented that needs to be refrigerated, like yogurt), and probiotic supplements (especially great if you can’t have dairy). At the same time, our diet works in lock-step with our bacterial colonies. Your overall diet should be healthy, with lots of fruits and vegetables, AKA prebiotics that encourage the growth and takeover of healthy bacteria. The bad bacteria that cause problems not so coincidentally are the ones that thrive on processed sugar and other less healthy foods. (But once you cultivate an overall healthy microbiome, you can cheat a little if you want to; for example, you might be able to eat a banana without it being a migraine trigger!).

The key to probiotic success is choosing quality. Some of the yogurts you’ll find at the grocery store are all sugar and almost no beneficial bacteria, they’ll backfire on you, others are geared toward one purpose (like regular bowel movements), and only have two or three strains. But the best? They have a wide variety of strains. You can read and compare every yogurt label, or you can skip right to a high-quality probiotic like Flora MGR.

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