Salt and Headaches; Fructose and Brains

HealthGal Health Guide
  • Though the holiday season can challenge most of us with all its demands, causing the mother of all headaches, a new study suggests it may be all that salty food you’re eating that is the true instigator of your holiday headaches.


    The study published in the December issue of the British Medical Journal suggests that diets high in sodium can be a major cause of the headaches we suffer year round, but especailly during the winter holiday season.  Nearly half the population of adults in the U.S. struggle with headaches.  The salt-headache connection may be far more prevalent than we realize.  According to the study, people who eat foods high in sodium, consuming close to 8000 milligrams of sodium daily, had nearly one-third more headaches, than people consuming a diet with about 4000 milligrams of sodium.  So a simple solution to many headaches may be sodium reduction.  It should be noted that current sodium recommendations for adults is a daily target of less than 2000 milligrams of sodium, and the American Heart Association would like us to actually achieve an "at or below 1500 milligrams of sodium daily.”

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    What foods are notoriously full of sodium?  Frozen dinners, soups, ready-to-eat cereals, vegetable juices, canned goods, marinades and gravies, spaghetti sauce, breads, processed nuts and chips, many processed foods and condiments, and any ingredients with the word “sodium” in it.


    A new study compared sugar water made from mixing glucose and water and another made from mixing fructose with water, and their impact on brain response to the sugar mixtures.


    The study involving 24 test subjects, split the group and performed MRI studies after each group consumed either the fructose/water or glucose/water concoction.  The MRI studies looked at the brain response right after the subjects drank the sweet water, and again, after consuming the sweet water and looking at pictures of food.  The group that drank the fructose/water combination had more activation in the brain area involved in reward processing, especially when they were looking at the food photos.  The researchers postulated that fructose, compared to glucose, may provide less appetite suppressing impact, and that might be one cause of people overeating when consuming foods containing fructose as the primary sweetener.


    The bottom line result of the study suggests that brains feeding on fructose may be hungrier brains.  Consider reading labels and reducing your overall consumption of foods with all added sugars, but, based on this study, there may be particular merit for your waistline, when you limit fructose-sweetened foods.


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Published On: December 16, 2014