Are you fed up with chronic migraines stealing your joy and productivity? You’re not alone. Millions of people suffer from these debilitating headaches, and traditional treatments often fall short. But what if there was a dietary approach that could significantly reduce the frequency and severity of your migraines? I know firsthand the excruciating torture of migraines. Every throbbing pulse, every wave of nausea, every stolen moment of my day – it’s a brutal reality I’ve battled for years. Work meetings blur into excruciating fog, social plans crumble under the crushing weight of pain, and even simple joys become impossible luxuries. This relentless foe has snatched countless hours of my life, leaving me a prisoner in my own skull. But I also know hope exists. This research offers a glimmer, a chance to reclaim control and paint my days with sunshine instead of migraine’s dark shadows. If this resonates with you, fellow migraine warriors, let’s journey together down this dietary path. Let’s find our way back to a life lived in vibrant hues, free from the shackles of migraine pain. Dr. Ken Berry, a family physician and former chronic migraine sufferer, brings you exciting news based on a new study. This research suggests that adjusting your dietary fat intake could be the key to living migraine-free!
The Key Player: Omega-3 vs. Omega-6 Fatty Acids
The study reveals that increasing your intake of omega-3 fatty acids while reducing omega-6s can dramatically impact your migraines. These fatty acids play crucial roles in your body’s inflammatory processes, and an imbalance can trigger migraine attacks. So, how do you achieve this balance?
Dr. Berry outlines four key steps:
1. Ditch the Linoleic Acid-Rich Oils: Bid farewell to safflower, grapeseed, sunflower, and other vegetable oils high in linoleic acid (an omega-6). These oils promote inflammation and contribute to migraines.
Swap them for healthier fats like butter, beef tallow, and bacon grease. I also use extra virgin olive oil and coconut oil.
This is also the main reason why we should avoid fast food – they cook food in these vegetable oils that are so damaging to our bodies. 2. Sugar Detox: Added sugars and high-sugar fruits (like mangoes and grapes) spike your insulin levels, disrupting hormone balance and potentially triggering migraines. Cut back on these culprits and opt for low-glycemic fruits and vegetables.
Sugar is the main ingredient of inflammation.
Inflammation and sugar co-exist. I can talk more about this but even the main reason for heart attacks is not mainly because of clogged arteries more so, the cause of arteries being clogged is because of inflammation caused by sugar. 3. Go Grain-Free: Grains like wheat, rice, and oats can also elevate insulin levels. Eliminate them from your diet to keep your hormones in check and potentially reduce migraines. 4. Ditch the Low-Fat Dairy: Milk and other low-fat dairy products contain high amounts of lactose (milk sugar), which raises insulin levels.
Stick to full-fat dairy or consider eliminating dairy altogether.
Where to get Omega-3?
Omega-3 fatty acids are important for overall health and brain function, and they can also be beneficial for reducing inflammation and potentially mitigating migraine symptoms. Here are some excellent sources of omega-3s, categorized by food type: Fatty Fish:
- Wild-caught salmon: The king of omega-3s, a 3.5-ounce serving packs about 1.5 grams of DHA and 0.5 grams of EPA.
- Mackerel: Another oily fish powerhouse, providing around 1.3 grams of DHA and 0.6 grams of EPA per 3.5-ounce serving.
- Herring: A smaller, budget-friendly option with 1.2 grams of DHA and 0.5 grams of EPA per 3.5-ounce serving.
- Sardines: Tiny but mighty, sardines deliver 0.9 grams of DHA and 0.4 grams of EPA per 3.5-ounce serving.
- Tuna: Opt for wild-caught tuna as it generally has higher omega-3 content than farmed varieties. A 3.5-ounce serving provides around 0.5 grams of DHA and 0.3 grams of EPA.
- Chia seeds: A nutritional powerhouse, chia seeds boast 5 grams of omega-3s (mostly ALA) per tablespoon.
- Flaxseeds: Another great source of ALA, flaxseeds offer 4.5 grams of omega-3s per tablespoon. Grind them before consuming for better absorption.
- Walnuts: These delicious nuts provide 2.6 grams of ALA per cup.
- Soybeans: Edamame (immature soybeans) and tofu are good sources of plant-based omega-3s, with about 0.5 grams of ALA per half cup of edamame.
- Algae oil: A concentrated source of DHA and EPA, algae oil supplements can be a good option for vegetarians and vegans.
- Eggs: While not as high as fatty fish, eggs offer a good amount of DHA and EPA, especially if enriched with omega-3s.
- Fortified foods: Some dairy products, such as milk and yogurt, are fortified with DHA and EPA. Read labels carefully to choose options with added omega-3s.
Tips for Increasing Omega-3 Intake:
- Incorporate a variety of omega-3-rich foods into your diet throughout the week.
- Add chia seeds or flaxseeds to smoothies, yogurt, or oatmeal.
- Snack on walnuts or almonds.
- Grill or bake fatty fish instead of frying for optimal omega-3 retention.
- Consider supplementation if you have difficulty meeting your omega-3 needs through diet alone.
Do I eliminate all sugar? Not necessarily. I eat fruits, vegetables, and dairy that have some sugar but I try not to have added sugars and I try to stay away from very refined sugars, which I notice would cause the start of a bad migraine. Changing your diet takes time and commitment. Experiment and find what works best for you. Watch Dr. Berry’s video explaining this in depth. Sources: National Library of Medicine – Molecular mechanisms of omega-3 fatty acids in the migraine headache Harvard Health – The sweet danger of sugar National Library of Medicine -Inflammation, glucose, and vascular cell damage: the role of the pentose phosphate pathway