Young woman at home at desk with a headache
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According to a study by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, funded by the National Institutes of Health, adults who changed their diets consumed more omega-3s – the types of fats you get from salmon, mackerel , Eggs and soy, walnuts and flaxseed – had an average of two fewer migraines a month than those who followed their normal diet.
This finding is particularly noteworthy because it matches or even exceeds the results of recent attempts to find a pharmacological agent for migraines, such as monoclonal antibody treatments.
“This study provides biologically plausible evidence that pain can be treated by targeted dietary changes in humans,” write the authors of the study in their paper, which was published in the British medical journal BMJ in July.
Related: The 8 Best Vegan Omega-3 Rich Foods
Migraine is one of the most common diseases in the world, affecting around one billion people; not yet fully understood. They are much worse than normal headaches and can lead to blinding pain, temporary nervous system changes, fatigue, and more. In some cases, they can be effective in getting a serious patient to do nothing productive for up to three days. Certain medications, including pain relievers, can actually make migraine symptoms worse, which is why doctors are so interested in treatment that does not rely on medication.
The UNC study tracked 182 adults, including 166 women, with a mean age of 38 years. The subjects reported that they usually had between five and 20 migraines a month. They were divided into three groups: a control group, a group who consumed more omega-3 fatty acids over four months, and a group who consumed more omega-3 and less omega-6 fatty acids over four months. (Omega-6 is another type of fatty acid found in corn, soybeans, nuts and seeds, meat, poultry, fish, and eggs – but most of us get it from the lineole acids in vegetable oils.) Participants recorded, how many migraines they got and how severe they were.
The story goes on
Aside from omega-3 fatty acids reducing the frequency of migraines, the researchers found that they also seemed to make them milder. However, these results doubled for the third group, who consumed more omega-3s and fewer omega-6s – these subjects reported having an average of four fewer migraines per month.
See Also: 5 Insidious Signs You May Not Be Eating Enough Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Experts said the results of the UNC study could pave the way for effective treatment for migraineurs – though there is still much work to be done.
“These results support the recommendation of an omega-3-rich diet for patients in clinical practice,” wrote Dr. Rebecca Burch, Headache Medicine Specialist and Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School, in BMJ. (She was not involved in the study.) “The main obstacle to the widespread success of dietary intervention is compliance, as strict diets require time, financial investment, and change in habits … A clear template developed by nutritionists and patients would also be valuable in helping people with migraines maintain these diets for extended periods of time. “
More research is needed to clarify the role of omega-3 fatty acids in preventing and relieving migraines, but this is encouraging news for those who regularly experience migraines. In addition, there are many other reasons to increase your omega-3 intake, including improved blood pressure, healthier hair, and healthier joints. Would you like to increase your omega-3 intake? We have many delicious recipes to help you reach your daily quota.