Dr's Casebook: Including oily fish in your diet could help reduce migraines

Increasing the amount of fatty fish in the diet could reduce migraines. Photo: Getty Images

It usually starts in early adulthood and can be a real problem that affects family, social, and work life.

The exact cause of migraines is unknown, although it is believed to be the result of temporary changes in the chemicals, nerves, and blood vessels in the brain.

About half of all people who suffer from migraines also have a close relative with the condition, suggesting that genes may play a role.

Most migraineurs are aware that certain foods trigger a seizure, so their diet usually needs to eliminate such provocative foods and drinks.

New research has shown that a fish-based diet can help reduce the number of headaches each month and the intensity of pain experienced.

In this study of more than 180 people with frequent migraines, the researchers assigned people to one of three healthy eating plans.

All participants received food packages with fish, vegetables, hummus, salads and breakfast products.

One group received meals high in fatty fish or fatty fish oils and low linoleic acid, such as those found in vegetable oils and some nuts and seeds.

A second group received meals high in oily fish and higher in linoleic acid from additional vegetable oils and nuts.

The third group received meals high in linoleic acid and less fatty fish, which was in line with the average diet. Participants monitored the frequency and intensity of headaches and their impact on their performance at work, school, or social life.

They also recorded how and when to take medication to relieve the migraines.

The fish diet with less vegetable oil and more oily fish resulted in between 30 and 40 percent fewer migraines.

The diet with the higher linoleic acid had a little more headache.

The researchers concluded that increasing omega-3 fats from ingesting oily fish and reducing sources of linoleic acid from vegetable oils appeared to significantly reduce their migraines.

They also found that increasing the amount of fatty fish in the diet resulted in a decrease in headaches, which has not been seen in humans

just took fish oil supplements.