Have you tried a migraine-relief diet?

Migraines can be painful and for many, even debilitating.

But be cautious when choosing your road of treatment…

If you visit a physician, they’ll offer you the easiest route — medications. While these work for some, unfortunately they don’t work for others. And the offset of medications is the possibility of dealing with adverse side effects.

If you haven’t considered a diet change as a potential treatment strategy, after reading this you just might…

And by diet, I don’t mean a list of trigger foods. This goes beyond avoiding the foods that can cause a migraine — to following a diet with proven abilities to ward them off.

Here are three of them. Hopefully, one will work for you…

High omega-3/low omega-6 diet

Many Western diets are too high in omega-6 fatty acids and too low in omega-3s, which can lead to chronic inflammation that subsequently encourages migraines. In fact, the ratio of omega-6/3 has been noted to be as high as 20:1 when it should be around 2:1, or a maximum of 4:1.

Since omega-3s are widely recognized for their potent anti-inflammatory powers, it’s not surprising that a study in migraine sufferers revealed that omega-3 supplementation reduces headache frequency.

To balance out these fatty acid ratios in your diet, you need to give your body an oil change. Consume fewer omega-6 rich foods, particularly processed oils like soybean, corn, sunflower, and other generic vegetable oils. And aim to include more omega-3-rich food sources such as chia seeds, walnuts, and fatty fish like mackerel, salmon, herring and tuna. You can also supplement your diet with fish or krill oil.

Ketogenic diet

A ketogenic diet lowers your intake of carbohydrates to fewer than 20 grams per day. Just to get an idea of how low that is, dietary guidelines recommend an average intake of 225-325 grams a day, and most Americans take in more carbs than that. But after several days of following this super low-carb diet, your body begins to burn fat instead of carbohydrates, to provide cells with energy.

One study found that a group of migraine sufferers had a 75 percent reduction in the frequency of their migraines after adopting a strict ketogenic diet for a month. As carbohydrate intake is known to promote inflammation, the researchers concluded that migraine reduction was due to a universal reduction of inflammation, altering migraine trigger patterns.

The strict version of the ketogenic diet encourages foods high in protein (grass fed beef, fish, poultry and eggs) and an abundance of healthy fat (coconut, avocado, flax seed, olive oil and animal fats). It also promotes the inclusion of low carb non-starchy vegetables such as leafy greens, broccoli, celery, cucumber, tomatoes and herbs.

A more relaxed version of the ketogenic diet allows for some carbohydrates as long as they have a low glycemic index. Search the Glycemic Index database for foods under 55 on the GI scale, though, the lower the number the better!

High folate diet

Folate (vitamin B9) is a water-soluble vitamin that supports your immune and nervous systems while also helping your body metabolize amino acids. A study on diet and migraines found that people who eat diets lower in folate tend to experience more migraines. It could be because folate is crucial to brain function as well as the health of your blood vessels. Some migraine pain occurs due to dilation of blood vessels in the brain.

Make it a daily goal to eat five or more servings of folate-rich foods like spinach, broccoli, asparagus, beef liver, Brussels sprouts, black-eyed peas, kidney beans, and mustard greens. You can also add a folic acid supplement to your diet.

Folate can also lower your stroke risk, something migraine sufferers may be at higher risk for.

Overall, these comprehensive diets focus on providing a large quantity of vitamins, minerals and certain nutrients known to relieve inflammatory triggers. The result of following either one is they may ease the frequency and severity of your migraines — and that has to be great news for you!

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  1. Jackson JL, et al. A Comparative Effectiveness Meta-Analysis of Drugs for the Prophylaxis of Migraine Headache. — Arias-Carrion O, ed. PLoS ONE. 2015;10(7):e0130733.
  2. Martin V & Vij B. Diet and Headache: Part 2. — Headache. 2016;1(1):1553-1560.
Jedha Dening

By Jedha Dening

Jedha Dening is a qualified nutritionist (MNutr), researcher, author, freelance writer, and founder of type 2 diabetic nutrition site Diabetes Meal Plans. Her masters thesis on nutrition and inflammation was published and then presented at a national scientific conference. She has millions of words published in the health industry across various print and online publications. Having been in the field for over 15 years, she’s incredibly passionate about delving into the latest research to share the myths and truths surrounding nutrition and health. She believes when armed with the right knowledge, we’re empowered to make informed choices that can truly make a difference.