This diet can help with migraines

Some goods news for the approximately 45 million Americans who regularly suffer from migraines. According to a new study published in the BMJ journal, a diet high in omega-3 fatty acids can dramatically reduce severe headaches and migraines.

This was especially true for participants who upped their omega-3 fatty acid intake while reducing their omega-6 fat intake.

The connection between fatty acids and migraines

Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in fish like mackerel, salmon, cod, flax seeds, chia seeds, and oysters. Foods high in omega-6 fat include poultry, walnuts, almonds, peanut butter, and eggs.

“The reduction in headache days per month that we saw was impressive. It was similar to what we see with some medications that are being used as migraine preventatives and that’s very exciting,” said Daisy Zamora, study co-author, researcher at National Institute on Aging and assistant psychiatry professor at the UNC School of Medicine.

Americans are not getting enough omega-3 acids

Although participants involved in the new report who consumed less omega-6 fats and more omega-3 fatty acids experienced fewer and shorter headaches, both are healthy dietary resources.

The problem is Americans consume a lot more omega-6 fats than omega 3 acids. Most health organizations recommend a minimum of 250–500 mg of omega-3 fatty acids for healthy adults. Women should try to consume around 12 grams of omega-6 fats per day while males should target 17 grams per day.

In order to determine how imbalance affects headaches and migraines, the authors of the new report recruited 182 people who reported migraines five to 20 days per month. Each was randomly assigned to one of three groups for 16 weeks.

Before the start of the analysis, the participants were given a diary to track the intensity and frequency of their migraines in addition to how they impacted their ability to function throughout the day.

The first group was the high omega-3 fatty acid diet group. Participants belonging to this group ate salmon and tuna every day.

The second group consumed a lot of omega-3 fatty acids while decreasing their omega-6 fats intake. Participants in this group cooked their meals with macadamia nut oil, olive oil, coconut oil, or butter as opposed to the typical vegetable oils high in omega-6 fats.

The last group consumed an average U.S. diet, complete with typical levels of omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fats eaten by Americans.

At baseline, the participants averaged about 16 severe headache days a month. This value was barely affected by medication.

Those who belonged to the high omega-3 fatty acids and low omega-6 fats group reduced the total amount of headaches they experienced by between 30% and 40% compared to the group that consumed an American diet.

“These results support recommending a high omega-3 diet to patients in clinical practice,” the authors wrote. “They take us one step closer to a goal long sought by headache patients and those who care for them: a migraine diet backed up by robust clinical trial results.”