Anti inflammatory diet for migraines has shown to decrease the frequency of migraine headache episodes.
However, the effects of an anti-inflammatory diet on the acute treatment of migraine, reducing the severity of migraine, and reducing the duration of migraine episodes are still questionable [Ref].
Nevertheless, it is logical to consume a diet with anti-inflammatory properties in conjunction with other migraine medications to get the most number of migraine-free days with lesser severity, and the least number of migraine pills required.
Is Migraine an Inflammatory Disease?
Typically, migraine is not classified as an inflammatory disease. We know that inflammation produces fever, redness, swelling, and pain. However, neuroinflammation has been described as one of the pathophysiological processes of migraine.
Throbbing headaches, dilation of blood vessels, associated nausea, vomiting, and the response to anti-inflammatory medications all indicate that migraine is an inflammatory disease [Ref].
Inflammation is often a result of protective mechanisms but if it’s overdone, it can be dangerous to our bodies and play a role in migraines. When inflammatory compounds are produced in the nerves around our brain, it causes pain, nausea, and vomiting.
A lot of compelling evidence shows that we can successfully reduce inflammation, and ultimately migraines, by consuming a specific diet that naturally reduces inflammation.
If you are one of those who face this problem, keep reading the article to find out how to reduce it naturally.
What is a migraine?
Migraines are not just an everyday bad headache. They are often pounding and throbbing and along with it, you get plenty of other things too.
You’re sensitive to light and sound, and occasionally you feel sick. You might throw up. so, it’s a whole physical thing.
Some people can get an aura beforehand. One can see changes in the vision that will warn you that a migraine is about to hit.
So, migraine is a chronic disease like diabetes and hypertension. It affects you in different ways. People may call you a weird person. They won’t feel your pain and say you are just kind of seeking attention all the time.
Your doctor may put you on antidepressants. Sometimes, that might make things more complex.
Unless someone has felt your pain, they won’t realize migraine is such a “pain in the brain“.
Relation between Systemic inflammation and migraine:
We’ve always thought that vascular changes such as vasoconstriction or vasodilation contributed to migraines.
It’s only in the past five or ten years we’ve realized that inflammation plays a huge role in migraine. Inflammation affects our migraines because it triggers the release of pain-promoting chemicals in various parts of the brain.
It is called “Neuroinflammation”. Just like multiple sclerosis or other inflammatory diseases, you don’t find the classical symptoms of inflammation in migraine.
Chemical mediators have been linked with migraine which causes nausea, vomiting, vasodilation, etc [Ref].
Anti inflammatory diet for migraines:
Certain nutrients are vital, but our bodies cannot produce them on their own. So, we have to take them by diet.
They are referred to as essential nutrients like fatty acids. Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are important, but omega-3 fatty acids are healthy.
It is up to us what we consume. Diet is something we can completely control and we can alter the inflammatory pathway just by changing what we’re digesting.
By increasing the consumption of omega-3 fatty acids and decreasing the intake of omega-6 fatty acids, we can lower pain and inflammation.
What can trigger your migraine headache?
The best way to reduce any health issue including migraine is to find out what triggers it. Talking of dietary triggers, figuring out and then eliminating that particular food will help you a lot in resolving the migraine issue.
And if you don’t know what exactly the triggering element is, try restricting it one by one.
Here’s the list of food items that have been linked with migraine headaches:
- Citrus fruits
- Dairy items
- Savory foods that contain MSG (monosodium glutamate), used to improve flavors
Everybody has a different experience using the above foods. Chocolates for example have been blamed to cause headaches the same day or the next day [Ref]. It may cause headaches when taken with wine or brands that contain MSG (a flavor enhancer).
In various studies, chocolates were not found to cause headaches. Having said that, if you have a headache each time after eating chocolates, avoid them.
The anti inflammatory Diet for Migraine Prevention:
Research showed that the following anti inflammatory diet for migraines has some role in preventing a migraine episode, or reducing the frequency and duration of a migraine headache.
Eating 2 tablespoons of flax seeds every day.
You can add flax seeds to smoothies, pancakes, or shakes. Some people get relief by consuming ice-cold smoothies in their breakfast daily.
Increase consumption of fish that has omega 3.
The simplest way of it is eating Salmon. In one study, consuming lots of omega 3 reduced the headache frequency by 2 days per month.
In addition to consuming omega 3, reducing the consumption of omega 6 reduced the frequency of headaches by 4 days per month [Ref].
One simple way of consuming omega 3 instead of omega 6 is to change the type of oil you’re using. Swap up your oils that contain omega 6 with the ones that are rich in omega 3.
Olive oil and plant oils are usually rich in omega-3 fatty acids. These include Canola, mustard, cod-liver oil, soybeans oil, walnut oil, and flax seeds oil.
The spice turmeric helps in reducing inflammation.
Turmeric or its active ingredient Curcumin is being increasingly used in the treatment of inflammatory diseases including osteoarthritis.
Turmeric when used in combination with coenzyme Q has been shown to reduce the frequency, duration, and severity of migraine headaches.
Turmeric tablets, capsules, and sachets are available in the markets. The usual dose is 2 gm in two or three divided doses. However, adding turmeric spice to your diet may be sufficient if you consume it on a daily basis.
Gingerol present in ginger is a great inflammatory compound.
Ginger is commonly added to meals. Apart from its preventing role in migraine headaches, it can reduce nausea and vomiting associated with migraine headaches.
Different nuts help in this problem as well.
Different fruits like berries, strawberries, etc., and vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, etc. contain photochemical compounds that are antioxidants that help in reducing inflammation.
For many years our approach has been about medicating. But now the research has clearly shown that the treatment strategies should involve the change in what we consume.
If you add these anti-inflammatory diets to at least one of your main meals, you may start noticing changes. For some people, the results are rapid, for others, It’ll take almost three months to notice the changes in your headache.