Migraines are difficult to treat, but a new study suggests a few changes in diet can drastically improve people’s symptoms.
Migraines are incredibly debilitating and also very mysterious. Despite the fact that they affect 12% of the population (1 person in every household), they remain difficult to treat. But a new study suggests a solution: eating more fish and less fried foods.
A study, published in the trade journal BMJ, explored whether or not boosting the consumption of omega-3 fats (normally found in fish, as well as plenty of plant-based foods) would help people cope with their migraines. Researchers also wanted to decrease the omega-6 fats found in many processed oils. According to participants in the study, this change in diet significantly decreased their headaches.
“I haven’t had a migraine, not even a mild one, in over two years,” Tanya Kamka told the New York Times. “Going from having one a week to not having any was just amazing to me.”
Researchers found that something as simple as a diet change can significantly improve the lives of people who suffer from recurring migraines, reducing the number and severity of their attacks. “Many people with chronic pain continue to suffer despite taking medication,” said the study’s lead author, Dr. Christopher E. Ramsden. “I think this is something that could be integrated with other treatments to enhance their quality of life and reduce their pain.”
On average, participants experienced 16 days of migraines at the start of the study. Participants were split into three groups. One followed a diet high in omega-3 fats, eating foods like wild salmon and albacore tuna, and low omega-6 fats. The second group ate more omega-3 fats but maintained their normal intake of omega-6 fats. The last group was the control group, consuming a normal amount of both fats.
Study stats said that people experienced an average of 16 headaches per month. After 16 weeks of following their diets, the group that ate more fish and decreased their consumption of omega-6 fats, experienced an average of four fewer headache days a month. The second group, which had increased their consumption of fish while maintaining their intake of omega-6 fats, had experienced 2 fewer headaches a month.
According to researchers, the easiest way to start practicing this diet would be to consume more fatty fish, like salmon, albacore tuna, trout, and anchovies. In order to avoid omega-6 fats, it helps to avoid fried and processed foods, replacing these oils with coconut, macadamia, and avocado oil.