Dietary Changes May Help Reduce Migraine Severity

November 19, 2022

Summary: Migraine is among the most difficult-to-treat headaches. Moreover, factors related to the worsening of migraine headaches differ. Many early studies have shown that higher omega-6 and low omega-3 intake are responsible for increased inflammation and a higher risk of different chronic disorders. A new study shows that reducing omega-6 fatty acids intake and, increasing omega-3 fatty acids intake, eating more fatty fish may considerably help ease migraine headaches.

For some people, migraine can be highly debilitating, causing prolonged episodes of severe headaches. Even worse, some people do not respond well to drug therapy, thus experiencing frequent and prolonged migraine and neck pain. However, it is also not a secret that, in many instances, migraine is made worse by specific factors like changes in foods, climate, and more.

There has been much research into migraine, but regretfully science does not fully understand what is the cause of migraine headaches in some individuals. There is a limited understanding of its pathogenesis. Hence, migraine headaches remain challenging to treat. Some people have a poor response to drug therapy.

Of course, much research is happening, and migraine pain treatment is improving. There are now tens of drugs to treat migraine effectively in many people, and this includes even biologicals, neuromodulation, and light therapy. However, many of these treatments are expensive and tend to cause many side effects. Thus, there is a need to find more accessible and safer ways to prevent migraine headaches attacks, and it seems that dietary changes could be one of the ways.

A new study funded by NIH found that increasing the intake of fatty fish may help reduce migraine headaches attacks, especially if a person also reduces the intake of vegetable oils concurrently1. This could be a pretty simple way to significantly reduce the risk of migraine attacks. Though it may not eliminate headaches, it can help. Moreover, these dietary measures are associated with better metabolic health.

Many previous studies have recommended reducing the intake of vegetable oils rich in omega-6 fatty acids and increasing the intake of omega-3 fatty acids. This is because omega-6 fatty acids are not bad for the health; however, people are just consuming them in massive amounts, resulting in higher inflammation levels and, thus, a higher risk of certain disease conditions.

On the other hand, increasing omega-3 intake and correcting the omega-3 to omega-6 intake ratio can help reduce inflammation and help prevent a range of metabolic disorders. These measures are quite good for reducing the risk of different chronic ailments. However, now the studies also show that such simple measures may help reduce episodes of migraine headaches.Surely, fatty fish is among the best dietary sources of omega-3 fatty acids. However, one may also increase their intake by increasing their intake of flaxseeds, chia seeds, and walnuts.

Of course, these dietary changes would not eliminate migraine headaches, and benefits may vary. Nonetheless, it is quite a simple way to treat migraine headaches, and most people can use this approach to reduce the severity of their migraine headaches. Moreover, the benefits may be even greater when such dietary changes are combined with the right kind of drug therapy.

These dietary imbalances are well known. Studies show that humans have evolved to consume more omega-3 fatty acids. This does not mean that they do not need omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-6 fatty acids or polyunsaturated fatty acids are also essential, and the body cannot produce them. However, humans consume omega-6 in large amounts, as they are abundant in most vegetable oils and processed foods.

On the other hand, omega-3 intake in humans has become less over the centuries. Some of the dietary sources of omega-3 fatty acids are less accessible in different parts of the world. Studies suggest that boosting omega-3 fatty acids intake and reducing omega-6 fatty acids intake may reduce the risk of total headaches by 30% to 40%. Yes, that is a massive benefit, comparable to some expensive medications.

At present, there are just a few moderately sized studies in this direction. There is a need to carry out a more extensive clinical trial to understand the role of dietary choices in migraine headaches. Moreover, many people living with migraines know that some foods cause worsening headaches. Paada Institute of Pain Management offers best treatment for migraines in the St Louis area. The team of specialists design a dedicated treatment suited to your needs.

By Gurpreet Singh Padda, MD, MBA