Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have discovered a link between eating processed meat—high in nitrates—and getting migraines. Researchers examined 172 oral and 1,996 fecal samples from a group of patients in the American Gut Project database and found that individuals who experienced migraines had a higher concentration of nitrate-blocking bacteria. Researchers pointed out that many of the 38 million sufferers of migraines in the United States have self-reported a connection between the consumption of nitrates and the severity of their headaches.“There is this idea out there that certain foods trigger migraines—chocolate, wine and especially foods containing nitrates,” author of the study Antonio Gonzalez says. “We thought that perhaps there are connections between what people are eating, their microbiomes and their experiences with migraines.” While the research is inconclusive as to whether the presence of nitrate-blocking bacteria is a result of migraines or a protective mechanism against them, researchers plan to further study the connection by analyzing more defined groups. Other recent studies have linked the consumption of processed meat to certain cancers and heart disease.
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