Back before the keto diet became super trendy for weight loss, this high-fat, low-carb plan was created to help people suffering from epilepsy, a neurological disorder that causes abnormal brain activity.
Now, some researchers think it could help people with another condition: chronic migraines.
"The ketogenic diet affects your metabolism. Are you having improvements because of the weight loss? Is it the ketosis itself? That’s still an unknown,” Dr. Robblee says. Ketosis is the state a person's body goes into on the keto diet, forcing their system to burn fat rather than carbs for energy (and leading to weight loss and other health benefits, keto adherents say).
"One hypothesis is that, ultimately, you’re doing a diet that has less processed foods,” says Dr. Robblee. The keto diet focuses on whole, unprocessed products, such as eggs, fatty fish, low-carb veggies, and low-sugar fruits.
Research published in 2017 drew a link between the keto diet and migraine prevention. But the research doesn't explain exactly what the relationship between the two is. That research called for randomized control studies, and Dr. Robblee says we definitely need these moving forward.
Dr. Robblee says the keto diet might benefit migraine patients the same way it benefits people with epilepsy. "Both conditions have abnormal function in the brain. There is some sort of overlap. [In migraine patients,] you have this difference in the electric signal in the brain.”
Some treatment options for migraines are also used to treat epilepsy, Dr. Robblee adds. Among these is a vagal nerve stimulator, which can reduce the number of seizures an epileptic person has. (The vagus nerve connects the brain to organs in the neck, chest, and abdomen.)
Bottom line: If you’re suffering from migraines consistently, it might be worth your while to try going keto. It could help—though right now, science is just not quite sure why.
This Story Originally Appeared On Instyle