Migraine
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Comprehensive diets may help regulate the quantities of core components of foods such as vitamins, macronutrients, ions, proteins, carbohydrates, and fats and thus help in the prevention of migraine and other headache disorders.

What is migraine?

A migraine can lead to severe throbbing pain or a pulsing sensation, usually on one side of your mind. It is often accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and extreme sensitivity to sound and light. Migraine attacks can last for hours to days, and the pain can be so intense that it interferes with your everyday activities. For many people, a warning symptom called an air occurs before or together with the headache. An aura may include visual disturbances, like flashes of light or blind spots, or other disturbances, like tingling on one side of the face or in an arm or leg and difficulty speaking.

See: Migraine diet

Migraine & diet connection

Does a change in dietary factors help reduce migraine attacks and its frequency? Are you searching for a migraine diet plan that can help you deal with the most debilitating condition? Well, this article can help you understand the benefits of diet on migraines.

If you suffer from migraines, you most likely know your triggers-such as a lot of noise, heat, or stress. But diet can influence your migraines too. That's right. What you eat or not can be incredibly important regarding the frequency of your migraines and managing pain. Keep reading to find out what foods are usually safe, what you should probably avoid, and how your diet affects your migraines.

See: Proper Diet Eliminates Chronic Migraine and Brain Fog

How Does Diet Affect Migraines?

Migraines are quite personal. That means when it comes to diet and handling the pain, there are no hard and fast rules that apply to everyone. There is, however, scientific proof that suggests migraines might be triggered by certain foods. Furthermore, 27 percent of people who experience migraines feel that particular foods are triggering. Migraine might be influenced by dietary behaviors because it's ultimately the food that drives your whole body. The clinical expression of migraine involves their role in systemic inflammation, cerebral glucose metabolism, vasodilation, migraine attack frequency, and severity.

See: Functional Medicine for migraines

Numerous research has been carried out to understand the effects of dietary restrictions and elimination diets on migraines as well as on the use of a comprehensive diet. All these research studies suggest incorporating preventive foods into your diet and limit foods that can trigger a migraine.

Comprehensive diets may help regulate the quantities of core components of foods such as vitamins, macronutrients, ions, proteins, carbohydrates, and fats and thus help in the prevention of migraine and other headache disorders.

See: Ginger for migraine pain relief

Migraines diet modification

Some of the dietary factors and their role in migraine headaches

 

1. Folate rich diet

Folate and vitamin B12 serves as important cofactors for enzymes that are necessary for the metabolism of homocysteine. Both folate and homocysteine are known to play an important role in the pathogenesis of migraine headaches. Migraine patients are often found with lower levels of folate in their blood due to the consumption of folate deficiency diet. Low folate diets increase the levels of homocysteine in blood that induce cortical spreading depression in the CNS aggravating migraine attacks.

Folate and vitamin B6/B12 rich diets and/or supplements like avocado, asparagus, broccoli, bananas, & grapes may prevent attacks of migraine. [2]

 

2. Vitamin D and diet

Inflammatory mediators like cytokines, interleukins, are known to be involved in the pathogenesis of migraine headache. Vitamin D deficiency increases the levels of inflammatory mediators worsening migraines. Vitamin D3 supplementation or foods like fatty fish, cheese, egg yolks can help in the prevention of migraine and/or headache. [4.]

 See: Acupuncture for migraines

3. High omega 3 to omega-6 FAs

 Studies have reported that omega-3 FAs can reduce the frequency and severity of the headache. Lower intake of omega 3 fatty acids which include eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) was associated with a higher frequency of migraine attacks. Some research has also suggested that a certain ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 FAs must be attained to prevent migraines, it has been found that a high amount of omega-3 FAs and a lower Omega -6 FA’s may prove to be a good combination in reducing the number of migraine attacks and their frequency by exerting anti-nociceptive and pro-nociceptive actions.

 See: Ayurveda for migraine

4. Ketogenic diet

 The ketogenic diet has proved its efficacy in the preventative treatment of migraine headaches. It has been found that the keto diet for migraines restricts the number of carbohydrates which is usually not digested by the body. A very low carbohydrate diet for several days can deplete the reserves of glycogen producing ketone bodies that help maintain energy production within the mitochondria. Also, glutamate an excitatory neurotransmitter is known to exasperate migraine, where ketone bodies can help enhance the tone of inhibitory GABAergic neurons thereby decreasing the release of glutamate help preventing a migraine attack.[3]

 

5. Low sodium intake

The sodium salt is involved in neurotransmission and exerts its effects on CNS through sodium channels. Numerous studies have shown that a low sodium diet is associated with a lower frequency of headache as compared to a high sodium diet in persons with prehypertension. High sodium intake is also associated with hypertension and in such cases, the use of anti-hypertensive medications and cutting down the intake of salt to a very low quantity might prevent attacks of migraines.

 See: Yoga for migraine

6. Migraine elimination diet

Avoiding foods that can trigger migraines can prevent you from suffering from migraine symptoms. Several foods can trigger migraine attacks and every person has a unique set of triggers. These foods can trigger headaches by exerting their effects on the sympathetic nervous system, vasodilation, the release of neuropeptides, neuroreceptors and ion channels, inflammation, through the release of nitric oxide, and cerebral glucose metabolism. It is not feasible for a person to eliminate all known dietary triggers, as individuals may only be left with a small number of foods or beverages to consume. Some common foods that are known to trigger migraines include diets high in fats, caffeine, and foods like vanillin, citrus fruits, chocolate, aged cheese, monosodium glutamate, alcohol, and decaffeinated coffee. [1, 2, 5]



See: Acupuncture helps a 55 year old Female Get Off Meds for Migraine

Migarine type & diet plan

The choice of a specific migraine diet may depend on various factors like the condition of the patient, age, gender and type of migraine.

1. Histamine intolerance- Patients who experience flushing, wheezing, urticaria, or rhinitis on the ingestion of foods are most likely to suffer from histamine intolerance and should prefer taking a low histamine diet along with antihistamine medications to avoid worsening of chronic headache attacks.

2. Comorbid medical conditions -  Patients with obesity, celiac related disorders, hypertension, and migraine with aura should consider taking foods based on their condition.

For example - Obese patients with migraines should avoid a high intake of fats, and prefer a ketogenic diet. Similarly, the hypertensive patient should consume low salt-containing foods.

See: Home remedies for migraine

3. Hemiplegic migraine- It is a rare type of migraine that is characterized by intense and throbbing pain, nausea and vomiting and causes great sensitivity to light and sound. The condition can become so severe that it may lead to temporary weakness, tingling, and numbness and even paralysis on one side of the body in extreme conditions.

4. Vestibular migraine - A Vestibular migraine is a type of migraine that is characterized by repeated dizziness (or vertigo) especially in people who have a history of migraine symptoms.

See: Best supplements for migraine

5. Vestibular and hemiplegic migraine diet

There is no specific vestibular migraine diet or hemiplegic migraine diet. Numerous research has suggested that dietary inclusions that are high in Omega-3/Low Omega-6 Diet, a Low-Fat Diet, and elimination of IgG positive foods could be used to prevent all types of migraines including vestibular migraine and hemiplegic migraine regardless of underlying medical disorders.

See: Migraines vs Headaches treatment

Studies in efficacy of diet therapy for migraine

1. Targeted alteration of dietary n-3 and n-6 fatty acids for the treatment of chronic headaches: A randomized trial.[8].

 

A total of 67 patients were included in the study to receive treatment for chronic headaches. The patients were divided into two groups where they received high n-3 plus low n-6 (H3-L6) intervention or the low n-6 (L6) intervention and achieved targeted intakes of n-3 and n-6 fatty acids during the 12 weeks intervention phase.

Clinical outcomes included measuring the Headache Impact Test, days with headache, how many days with headache in a month and the number of headache hours per day.

The results showed a significantly greater improvement in the intervention group receiving H3-L6 where the number of Headache Days per month, headache impact test scores and Headache Hours per day were significantly reduced when compared to the treatment group of L6.

 

Thus, the study concluded a dietary intervention of high n-3 and low n-6 fatty acids reduce altered the antinociceptive lipid mediators, and improved the overall quality-of-life in patients.

Summary

Targeted dietary manipulation in conditions like chronic headaches and migraines can help reduce pain and improve the quality of life in this population. Dietary considerations could represent a novel strategy for treating chronic pain. It is always good for the persons with a migraine headache to avoid all recognized food triggers and consider a specific diet based on their underlying comorbid medical disorders or type of migraine. One should always consider taking a diet that has some proven efficacy. Still, some future trials need to be conducted to evaluate the clinical efficacy of various dietary changes in populations with chronic pain like headaches.

 

See: Home Remedies For Migraine

References

  1. 1. Martin, Vincent & Vij, Brinder. (2016). Diet and Headache: Part 2. Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain. 56. 1553-1562. 10.1111/head.12952. 
  2. 2. Menon S, Lea RA, Ingle S, et al. Effects of dietary folate intake on migraine disability and frequency. Headache. 2015;55:301- 309.
  3. 3.  Di Lorenzo C, Coppola G, Sirianni G, et al. Migraine improvement during short lasting ketogenesis: A proof-of-concept study. Eur J Neurol. 2015;22:170-177.
  4. 4. Prakash S, Makwana P, Rathore C. Vitamin D deficiency mimicking chronic tension-type headache in children. BMJ Case Rep. 2016;2016
  5. 5. Mathew RJ, Wilson WH. Caffeine consumption, withdrawal, and cerebral blood flow. Headache. 1985;25:305-309.
  6. 6. Toglia, Joseph & Thomas, David & Kuritzky, Arieh. (1981). Common Migraine and Vestibular Function. The Annals of otology, rhinology, and laryngology. 90. 267-71. 10.1177/000348948109000315. 
  7. 7. Martin, Vincent & Vij, Brinder. (2016). Diet and Headache: Part 1: Headache. Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain. 56. 1543-1552. 10.1111/head.12953. 
  8. 8. Ramsden, Christopher & Faurot, Keturah & Zamora, Daisy & Suchindran, Chirayath & Macintosh, Beth & Gaylord, Susan & Ringel, Amit & Hibbeln, Joseph & Feldstein, Ariel & Mori, Trevor & Barden, Anne & Lynch, Chanee & Coble, Rebecca & Mas, Emilie & Palsson, Olafur & Barrow, David & Mann, J.. (2013). Targeted alteration of dietary n-3 and n-6 fatty acids for the treatment of chronic headaches: A randomized trial. Pain. 154. 10.1016/j.pain.2013.07.028. 

See: Home Remedies For Migraine

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