MIGRAI-NEVERLAND, our premier resource for those who want to find their pill free path to migraine freedom (including the Beast Slayer Training Academy): mymigrainemiracle.com/endofmigraine
The 9 Primary Migraine Miracle RESOURCES: mymigrainemiracle.com/how-we-can-help/
The Jump Start Challenge: mymigrainemiracle.com/jumpstart
The 2019 Schedule of Migrai-Neverland Challenges: https://mymigrainemiracle.com/schedule
Migraine Miracle Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/899131986822364
The book that started it all – The Migraine Miracle: https://www.amazon.com/Migraine-Miracle-Sugar-Free-Gluten-Free-Inflammation/dp/1608828751
Welcome to the Migraine Miracle Moment. I’m your host, Dr. Josh Turknett. I’m a neurologist, migraine specialist, migraine sufferer, and author of the book, The Migraine Miracle. In this podcast, you’ll learn all about how to find your path to migraine freedom without pills. Let’s get started.
Howdy, beast slayers. So in this episode, I’m going to share with you 15 benefits of The Migraine Miracle Plan besides migraine freedom. So you’ve heard others on the podcast talk about how the plan has touched so many other parts of their lives, number one, just the way in which it impacts how they feel and their overall health in ways that go way beyond not having a throbbing head. This has certainly been true for me as well. I made these changes to my own diet and lifestyle almost a decade ago now, and by far, has been one of the most important experiences in my life and has touched many things way beyond migraines and has kind of reshaped how I look at almost everything in my life. I was on the conventional path in many ways before adopting this new way of eating and approaching life and lifestyle. And so, this experience was central to kind of rethinking everything along those lines.
I think there’re a few reasons why doing this tends to change so many things for so many people. Number one is because, here’s something that we’re doing that’s not the status quo, that’s not what you’ve been traditionally told to do, whether it’s for health in general or for migraine prevention, including not what you’ve been told by many “experts”, and yet you discover that it’s way, way better than the status quo, and now you have this direct, irrefutable and very powerful evidence that it’s way better than the expert advice that you’ve gotten.
So for example, the expert advice that nutrition has long been to eat a low fat diet, to avoid red meat and so forth to improve health, and that eating fat or eating red meat will lead to declining health, and then you experience firsthand that that’s totally wrong, that you not only feel better, but that all of these other metrics of health improve when you start doing those things you were told not to do. The expert advice in migraine has centered almost entirely around the various cocktails of medications that you should try to take. And then you experienced that not only is this medication-free approach so, so much better, but that the expert advice that you were getting actually was ending up making you and the other people who were getting that advice worse over time.
So for many, doing things differently than the status quo and then getting extraordinary results puts them on this path I think of of starting to think for themselves about a great many other things and to becoming a little more sophisticated or careful about where they get their information from and how they get it and how they use it.
One reason that I spend so much time talking about the reasons behind the various aspects of The Migraine Miracle Plan and why it’s so important to me for folks to have read the book, to go through the Beast Slayer Training Academy when they join Migrai-Neverland is because I don’t want you to do anything because I said so because you believe me to be an authority and an expert. I don’t want you to evaluate what I say based on the strength of my credentials because that’s how we got into this mess in the first place. Rather, I want you to evaluate what I say based on the strength of my arguments. Because if you don’t develop that habit, then you’ll just become the victim of the next highly credentialed expert who’s spouting terrible advice, and there’s plenty of that to go around.
So I want you to come to these conclusions ultimately on your own. I can help guide you along the path that got me there, but it’s super important to me that you go through that same process. We sometimes get folks who come into our community and ask, “Just give me a list of foods to eat or tell me what to do.” And I don’t do that sort of thing because I just know how essential it is for people to truly understand what this is all about and to be able to think critically and independently about their own health to prevent them from ultimately being undermined or sabotaged down the road.
Another reason this experience changes so much is that it provides such powerful feedback about the impact of the food we eat and the lives we lead on our health and how we feel. It’s very easy to dismiss these things as insignificant because they kind of become part of the background, but when you make a change like this and then experience the incredible impact that it can have on something as devastating as migraines, then you wonder what else you stand to gain from making these changes and what else you might be able to impact substantially through diet and lifestyle.
I think the last thing is that it reconnects you to what’s essential about being a human. We are ultimately creatures of nature, but we’ve extracted ourselves from the natural world in so many ways. I think going back to kind of understanding what we needed as creatures of nature brings with it a desire to kind of reconnect with the natural rhythms of the world, to be more mindful of the role that the natural world plays in our lives, and how important it is to protect that and treat it with the respect that it deserves.
So I started planning this episode on the benefits of The Migraine Miracle Plan outside of migraine thinking it’d be kind of a short and sweet one, but the longer I spent with it, the more I realized just how many things there were, especially if I reflect back to my life a decade ago, which looks so different now. And also when I think about just how important these things are and as that list continued to grow, I realized I wouldn’t be able to cover it all in one episode, but it was too important to cut out some things or gloss over them. So I’m going to make this a two parter to cover all 15 things. So I’ll do seven in this episode, and then the final eight in the next one. I could have kept going, but I had to ultimately edit myself.
Some of the benefits that I’ll talk about here are kind of health related ones, and there are others that are outside of the domain of health, even though they probably improve health indirectly. Also, I’m focusing here not just on the benefits that I’ve experienced, but ones that I know that many others have who’ve gone down this road.
So before we get to that, just a reminder that our next Jumpstart Challenge will take off on July 27th. So the Jumpstart is our 30-day challenge that’s designed to get you off and running with The Migraine Miracle Plan. So it includes a dedicated meal plan for the challenge, one that we’ve been refining over the years since the book came out. It also includes a private Facebook group for Jumpstart members who will move through the Beast Slayer Training Academy together and share their experiences. Like all of our other 30-day challenges, it is available to all of our Migrai-Neverland members, and you can participate as a member as many times as you’d like, and I’m sure there will be several participants in this next Jumpstart Challenge who’ve done it before. It can also serve as a nice reboot. Also, as you’ve heard from some of our prior success story guests, people often find it valuable to go through the Beast Slayer Training Academy more than once, as the things that you tend to focus on will change as you move along the timeline to migraine freedom and you adopt new habits and behaviors.
All right. So if you want to learn more about that, you can go to mymigrainemiracle.com, click on the resources tab at the top, which will take you through the resources, including Migrai-Neverland. And if you want to learn specifically about the Jumpstart, you can go to mymigrainemiracle.com/jumpstart. Okay, so let’s get to the 15 benefits of The Migraine Miracle Plan, and we’re going to cover the first seven today.
So the very first thing that I really noticed that had a major impact when I changed my diet was that my energy levels were drastically different. And this was really the first tangible evidence that my diet had been impacting the way I felt far more than I’d realized. Up to that point, consider that the pretty considerable ebbs and flows and energy levels that I experienced day to day were just an inevitable part of being a human. So the pattern was to wake up feeling a little bit groggy, take an hour or two to kind of feel fully alert, usually with some coffee, being at my most alert, mid to late morning, then having a real big dip in energy after lunch, trying to fight the urge to take a nap, then plowing through the afternoon through sheer force of will, and arriving home after work pretty much wiped out.
At the time that I made these changes, I had two young children, and being able to then come home and play with them, be in engaged and active part of the nightly routine was needless to say, a pretty big struggle. And within a couple of weeks of changing my diet, that had changed markedly. So the afternoon sleepiness was completely gone, which I thought was just incredible. I had just as much energy after lunch as before lunch and gone was the morning grogginess. I don’t know if I’d ever experienced that in my entire life, and I still had plenty of energy to spare after I arrived home.
So that alone was glorious and life changing and by itself, would have been motivation enough to never go back to eating the way that I’d eaten before. I think that eating the standard Western high carb diet is like being under the influence of a sedative 24 hours a day, but having no idea that you’re actually being drugged. And again, this dramatic change and stabilization of energy levels is one of the most common early results that folks experience. I think for many who aren’t doing it for migraine protection or weight loss, which is also really helpful for, it becomes the primary motivation for continuing to eat this way because when you revert back to old habits, just feel terrible, particularly with energy and fatigue. And so this happened well before I realized the impact that it was having on migraines.
I should also mention here that I’m talking both about kind of physical and mental energy so we can experience both what we might call body fatigue, so just physically feeling tired, not wanting to move around and do stuff, but also mental fatigue and mental fogginess, so not wanting to think too hard or feeling like our thoughts are not as clear as we want or they’re muddled. Sometimes these things correlate, but not always, and both of those things, the physical and mental fatigue improved markedly and were essentially gone throughout the course of the day. And on top of that, mental clarity and energy seems to improve even more when I’m in nutritional ketosis or doing some intermittent fasting.
So the second benefit that kind of relates to that first one is the improvements in sleep, and in particular, not just the improvements in the amount of sleep, but the quality of it and the amount that I need. So I mentioned that I’d never really experienced the feeling of waking up and kind of just feeling alert when I first opened my eyes. I don’t recall ever experiencing that either as a kid growing up or in my early adulthood, but now that happens as a matter of routine. That’s what I expect to feel when I wake up, and that has gotten even better as I’ve focused more on improving the quality of sleep, and in particular, in reducing the environmental mismatches that we know specifically impact the quality of our sleep and the alignment of our circadian rhythms. Those things were a big topic in our last sleep challenge. So certainly it’s likely a major factor also in the protection against migraines that I now experience is the improvements in sleep.
One of the most significant recent discoveries about sleep was that one of its functions is to essentially detoxify the brain overnight, so there’s what’s called the glymphatic system, which is the brain’s kind of a drainage system that operates at night to help sort of drain out the toxic waste that accumulates during the day from just the metabolic activity of the brain. There’s evidence that all of that likely plays a big role in neurodegenerative illnesses like Alzheimer’s disease. But it may well be that one reason why the same amount of sleep would lead to much better feelings of alertness in the mornings, just from a change of diet, being due to the fact that less metabolic trash is being produced during the day because of the diet, so there’s less cleanup to do at night. And if that job hasn’t been completed over the course of the night, then morning grogginess may be a consequence as your brain is telling you, “No, we need more time to get this done.” So one possible reason why folks tend to feel better and more alert despite not changing the amount of sleep after changing their diet.
We also often find that folks will feel like they need less sleep when on a ketogenic diet and won’t feel any consequences, so they’ll sleep a little bit less and wake up a little bit earlier, but not suffer any consequences in terms of feeling overly sleepy the following day. And again, stands to reason that one reason for that would be that there’s even less metabolic trash being produced when we’re in nutritional ketosis or the same can be true when we’re fasting.
The third benefit beyond migraine protection were the resolution of reflux and indigestion or the improvements in digestion. So I’ve been led to believe that some degree of indigestion and reflux after a meal, especially a big meal, was just a normal part of being a human. I used to wake up every morning kind of partially hoarse because of reflux, which can cause this inflammation of the vocal chords. So it’d take me up to an hour in the morning before I felt like I had my full voice. And I’d also been led to believe, like so many others, that the best way to minimize reflux was to avoid spicy foods and avoid fatty foods. It turns out that was totally wrong. Within a matter of weeks of changing my diet, which didn’t involve reducing spicy foods and certainly didn’t involve reducing the fat in my diet, within a matter of weeks, all of those things vanished. And this, again, is a very common experience.
Fortunately, I was able to realize that this was kind of the root cause of reflux and indigestion in my early 30s. My poor mom didn’t realize that until her 60s, and this was something that had plagued her increasingly over the years. And fortunately, she made the same changes to her diet several years ago. In addition to the impact that it’s made on her migraines, which I’ve talked about before, I think the resolution of these kinds of digestive issues has been almost as great a benefit, and again, was a total surprise to her as well. She’d suffered for decades and never had a doctor told her to cut carbs or to eliminate gluten grains in order to treat it. And again, she had another powerful illustration of how wrong conventional wisdom is on so many matters of health.
So we humans are not meant to have indigestion after we eat. If you experience it after you eat, don’t just accept it and please, even worse, don’t just pop a proton pump inhibitor like Prilosec. It is not a normal part of being a human and spicy foods are not the problem. Spicy foods just make indigestion more unpleasant because they burn on the way back as well. So you notice it more and then you mistakenly think that they’re what triggered the reflux in the first place. The same with eating something that’s high in fat. It’s only lots of fat in the context of a standard high carb Western diet that’s the problem, not the fat by itself.
The fourth benefit, while we’re talking about digestion, are the improvements in gut health and gut permeability. So we’ve talked some in prior episodes about the role of the gut in both health and disease. It’s certainly a hot topic right now because we’re realizing more and more how central role the gut plays in everything. One of the consequences of the standard Western diet including gluten grains, is that it leads to an increase in intestinal permeability, also known as leaky gut. So stuff gets into the bloodstream from our gut that doesn’t belong, which causes a whole host of problems, many of which are mediated by the immune system as the immune system is activated when foreign invaders are led into the body, and it’s their job to get rid of them.
There’s evidence that this is a necessary first step in the development of autoimmune and inflammatory diseases, so things like rheumatoid arthritis, thyroiditis, multiple sclerosis, Lupus, but it’s likely that it plays a central role in every chronic disease including things like Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. It’s also absolutely critical for migraineurs, and likely one reason why The Migraine Miracle Plan works so well, because the last thing we want to do is to expose a hypersensitive brain to foreign substances. And so a healthy gut and a healthy gut barrier is absolutely essential to longterm migraine freedom, and that’s one reason why.
We’ve also talked about how a leaky gut may be connected to the abnormalities in the white matter of the brain that are commonly seen in migraineurs and which are associated with an increased risk of things like stroke and dementia. I talked about that in the podcast episode on the migraine and gluten connection.
So needless to say, it’s hard to downplay the importance of having an intact gut barrier for longterm health, especially for migraineurs. And it’s also one of those things that for many folks can be silent until it’s too late. So you may not even be aware that gut permeability is an issue until you’ve developed a secondary illness that’s related to it. Some people will experience GI symptoms with it, but not everybody will.
The fifth benefit relates to this as well, which is protection against neurological illness and disease. As a neurologist, I know firsthand the devastation that neurological illness can have on patients and their families, so things like Alzheimer’s, stroke, Parkinson’s, ALS. I also know how little there is that we can do as physicians for those who are afflicted with these disorders. I graduated medical school in 2001 and there has been no progress in the treatment of Alzheimer’s or any other chronic neurological condition in that time, nor do I expect there to be. So just like migraine and so many other health problems of our time, these systemic multifactorial conditions that are mismatched diseases can’t be treated effectively with a drug. It’s just the wrong tool.
It’s clear to me that most neurological diseases are diseases of civilization, meaning that they only occur in the context of modern diets and lifestyles. So they occur when the food that we eat and the lives that we lead is mismatched to our evolutionary history, and so we’re eating things and leading lives that we’re not well adapted to. And this is why we rarely find these disorders in indigenous hunter-gatherer populations, and why they then only emerge when those people assimilate into modern society and begin adopting modern diets and lifestyles.
It’s why when we look at the research that’s been done on the pathophysiology of these diseases, we find that not only are there many, many factors involved, not just one thing, but that those factors can be directly traced to disturbances in human physiology that arise when we live in mismatched environments, so including things like the role of blood sugar dysregulation, the role of systemic inflammation, the role of accumulation of amyloid protein and other toxic proteins in the brain, the breakdown of the gut and blood brain barrier. So all of these things which are driven by mismatch foods and behaviors and we know to be central to the development of all of these various conditions.
So as the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and a cure isn’t coming anytime soon. The single best way to prevent these conditions is to minimize mismatch. At this point, minimizing mismatch is also the best way to treat them to either halt the progression or even to provincially reverse the disease process. There’s already promising research on the impact of nutritional ketosis on things like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and ALS, as well as promising research about the impact of the blood-brain barrier on these conditions. So it’s likely that we’ll become increasingly sophisticated in our ability to use diet and lifestyle interventions for these diseases. And I think that’s where the real therapeutic breakthroughs are going to come from, not from a drug.
Okay, number six is never having to worry about gaining excess body fat. So at no point in my life would I have been ever considered overweight. I come from a long line of tall and lean humans. And yet, when I look at pictures of myself a decade ago, so before I made changes to my diet, I’m almost unrecognizable. I look puffy and bloated and I was on my way to developing a respectable spare tire around my midsection. And again, even then, people would refer to me or thought of me as skinny, and by current standards, I would’ve been thought of to be healthy and my diet wouldn’t have been thought of by conventional standards as particularly unhealthy. But all of that was far from the case, and after making these changes, I ended up losing about 15 to 20 pounds of fat over the course of maybe five to six weeks, almost all of which came from that spare tire, and then leveled off at the weight that I essentially remain at today almost a decade later, and my waist is smaller than it was senior year of high school.
Again, up until then, I like so many others thought that the gradual accumulation of body fat with age was just part of the aging process with the conventional explanation being that your metabolism slows down. So ignoring the fact that that explanation makes no sense whatsoever, I still expected that this to be true, and so I thought nothing of the fact that I was experiencing this as well. But at this point, I now fully expect to remain at my current weight and body fat percentage for the rest of my life, and know that I can do so without ever having to count or restrict calories or go on a fad diet or anything like that. I just have to eat human food. So it’s a nice coincidence that The Migraine Miracle Plan happens to also be the single best plan for losing excess body fat and then maintaining ideal body weight.
You may have noticed that wild animals of every species have essentially the same amount of body fat, so the distribution of body fat amongst, or the amount of variation in body fat amongst wild animals is very small. So animals that are in their natural habitat don’t become obese, and that’s because our body is able to easily maintain our body fat within an ideal and narrow range if we give it the inputs it expects. Just like every other homeostatic domain, our hypothalamus is able to regulate body fatness provided we give it the inputs that it expects. And it’s no coincidence that the only time that wild animals get fat is when they come in contact with humans and are given foods that aren’t part of their natural habitat, because the evolved mechanisms in their brain and body for maintaining stable body fat didn’t develop with those foods in the mix. And of course, this also includes our pets. So our pets, we know can get fat and that’s also because we give them food that’s outside their natural habitat, and that includes the pet food we can buy at the grocery store.
So every animal that eats a species appropriate diet, including humans, will have no trouble maintaining healthy weight. Once we are eating species appropriate food, then our feelings of hunger and satiety or fullness are accurate reflections of our energy needs. It’s only when we eat nonhuman foods that those feelings mislead us.
And then the seventh and last benefit I’ll discuss in this episode is the improvements in my skin. So in many ways I think the skin is like the canary in the coal mine. We can’t see most of our organs, but we can see our skin. And so often when there are systemic problems and chronic illness, there are signs of it on the skin as well.
So our daughter was about four or five years old when we started eating this way, and of course, we slowly transitioned her as well. At the time, she had terrible eczema. So she had these large patches of raw and irritated skin on her elbows and the backs of her legs, which were just painful to even look at. And of course, there was never any mention of a role for diet when we would take her to the dermatologist. We were just given increasingly strong topical steroids, which I hated giving to her. Longterm steroid use is not good for anyone, especially a developing child. But she was suffering, so we would do it and it would help for a little while to some degree, but then it would flare up again and so on. It was really horrible.
And then in a very short while after changing her diet, it was gone altogether. Her skin cleared up completely and there was no trace of the eczema. The only time that it’s flared up since then is when she eats gluten or sugar, but never to the degree that it did before because she won’t let it get there. That’s actually allowed her to experience firsthand, at an early age, this very tight connection between food and her health, which some people never really get or experience. And now, as a 14 year old girl, she also notes the direct connection between diet and acne, and so has another extra incentive to keep the nonhuman food out of her diet. I hate thinking about the possibility that she could have gone through her whole life struggling with his horrible skin condition when the solution was ultimately so simple.
I also experienced the same thing as well with my own skin, but to a lesser degree as she was in a worse condition, but my own eczema cleared up as did my skin generally. I used to have those little bumps on my arms and face that are known as keratosis pilaris. It’s a very common condition, and again, usually treated with lotions and steroid creams. Again, I’d had this almost my whole life, essentially as long as I can remember. It cleared up in a matter of weeks, and it hasn’t returned again in nearly a decade.
I think there are probably two main reasons why the skin improved so much when eating this way. One is because of the continuous state of systemic inflammation that anyone eating a standard diet is going to be in, which is likely from a combination of eating pro-inflammatory foods, the most significant of which are going to be refined sugar and vegetable and seed oils, along with the impairments in gut permeability that happen with the standard Western diet. The second is because of the poor nutrient quality of the standard diet and the vitamin, mineral and fatty acid deficiencies that occur as a result, and that are then fixed by eating a nutrient dense, evolutionarily appropriate diet that doesn’t include things like gluten grains, sugar, and refined carbohydrates.
Okay, so those are my first seven benefits of The Migraine Miracle Plan beyond migraine protection. And like I said, I will return with a part two to discuss the rest of the list which has 15 in all, so something to look forward to. Again, you can find the links to all prior episodes along with show notes and transcripts for the podcast by going to mymigrainemiracle.com/moment. If you enjoy The Miracle Moment, it will be awesome if you left a rating and review in iTunes. It helps other people to discover it.
Okay, that’s all for this episode. Now it’s time to go out and slay the beast.
As you’ve heard in the success stories, the benefits of adopting the Migraine Miracle Plan usually go well beyond migraine.
The same has definitely been true for me, and in this episode I discuss 15 benefits of the plan beyond migraine freedom.