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Migraine-Prevention Dietary Strategies

Migraine sufferers may want to look for triggers on their dinner plate, according to a press release from the University of Cincinnati (UC). After reviewing over 180 studies on diet and migraines, Vincent Martin, MD, professor in the Department of Internal Medicine at the UC College of Medicine, found that certain foods may spur migraines and certain eating patterns may help prevent them. His findings, published in Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain, outlined these two migraine-mollifying approaches:

  • Eliminate trigger foods. While skipping your morning coffee could bring on headaches, so could drinking too much coffee. Dr. Martin recommends migraine patients drink no more than 400 mg of coffee daily—a typical cup contains 125 mg. He also recommends replacing processed foods with fresh fruits, vegetables, and meats to help eliminate two other potential triggers: MSG, a flavor enhancer used in some processed foods, and nitrates, a preservative found in certain processed meats. And for those who enjoy liquid libations, cutting out alcohol could also help—vodka and red wines with high histamine contents are especially troublesome.
  • Adopt a headache prevention diet. Another way to mitigate migraines may be to adopt an eating pattern that has been shown to prevent headaches. Dr. Martin recommends low-fat diets, low-carbohydrate diets, and diets that boost your omega-3 fatty acid intake while reducing your omega-6 fatty acid intake. Omega-3s are found in foods like flaxseed, salmon, halibut, cod, and scallops, and omega-6s are found in foods like polyunsaturated vegetable oils (corn, sunflower, safflower, canola, and soy), peanuts, and cashews. Dr. Martin concludes, “Ultimately a healthy headache diet excludes processed foods, minimizes caffeine and includes a lot of fruits, vegetables, fish and lean meats.”

Source: University of Cincinnati

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