Woman suffers from migraines
Getty Images / LaylaBird
More than 1 in 10 Americans – and a shocking 18% of US women – have migraines, reports the Migraine Research Foundation (MRF). And it’s often not just a passing thing; Most migraineurs experience them at least once or twice a month, and 4 million of the 39 million Americans with migraines have at least 15 migraine days a month, the MRF adds.
A migraine is much more than an ordinary headache. It is an intense throbbing pain on one or both sides of the head that can sometimes be accompanied by other migraine symptoms such as blurred vision or “auras”, sensitivity to light, touch, smell or noise, numbness of the face or extremities, nausea, Dizziness or vomiting. As a result of all this pain and disorders of normal functioning, migraines are one of the most common causes of chronic pain, missed working hours and a lower quality of life.
Related: Hormones Could Be What Causes Migraines – Here’s What To Do About It
Many people with migraines simply rest until they pass or resort to medication to relieve the pain. But what if we could move our menu to cause fewer migraines at all?
Physicians from the National Institute on Aging (NIA) and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), which are part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH); and the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill (UNC) believe this might be possible, so they gathered to research the subject. Their fascinating results, just published in The BMJ, reveal some fascinating – and very doable – diet suggestions that will help common migraineurs reduce the number of monthly headaches and the intensity of the pain. To get all of these migraine-reducing benefits, aim to eat more oily fish and less vegetable fats and oils.
“This research has found fascinating evidence that dietary changes have the potential to improve a very debilitating chronic pain condition like migraines without the associated drawbacks of often-prescribed medications,” said Luigi Ferrucci, MD, Ph.D., the scientific director from NIA, in a brief about the study.
The story goes on
To determine this, the researchers followed 182 adults with frequent migraines over 16 weeks. Participants were randomly assigned to one of three healthy eating plans and given meal sets that matched their program. All meal plans included fish, vegetables, hummus, salads and staples for breakfast and were then broken down into:
High proportion of oily fish or oils from oily fish and little linoleic acid
High in fatty fish and high in linoleic acid
High linoleic acid and low-fat fish designed to mimic the average US diet
This difference was inspired by previous research pointing to differences in chronic inflammation based on variations in linoleic acid intake (found in corn oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil, soybean oil, and canola oil, and some nuts and seeds) and omega. indicated -3 fatty acid intake. (You can get omega-3s in oily fish like salmon, mackerel, oysters, and herring, as well as in these 8 vegan sources.)
During the intervention, subjects tracked the number of migraine days, the duration and intensity of their migraines, whether they took medication, and whether the migraine affected their ability to participate in normal daily tasks at work, school, or socializing. As a baseline, preliminary study, participants had about 16 headache days per month, 5 hours of migraine pain on those days, and noted severe impairment of quality of life and the need for multiple headache medications to tame the pain.
See Also: 5 Insidious Signs You May Not Be Getting Enough Omega-3 Fatty Acids
After reviewing the data from the 4-month study, the scientists found that those who consumed less vegetable oils and more fatty fish had between 30 and 40% fewer headache hours, severe headaches per day, and fewer overall headache days per month. compared to the average US healthy eating group. Blood tests also showed that this high fish and low vegetable oil group had lower levels of pain-related lipids.
“Dieting could provide some relief to millions of Americans suffering from migraine pain,” said Chris Ramsden, a clinical researcher in the NIA and NIAAA intramural research programs and an associate faculty member at the UNC who led the research. “It’s further evidence that the foods we eat can affect pain pathways.”
They find that diet adjustment “looks better at helping people with migraines” than fish oil-based capsules, so stocking up on salmon as a dietary supplement is better.
In the future, the team hopes to find out how this change in diet can affect other chronic pain conditions. In the meantime, try these healthy omega-3 recipes and find out about the best and worst foods to eat for migraines.