September 4th 2016 marks the start of Migraine Awareness week. Click on the link for more information,

Migraine Awareness Week

and read on for some useful nutritional advice:

Nutritional advice for Migraine

Certain foods can be a trigger for migraines: cheese, red wine, peanuts, coffee, wheat and citrus fruits are common ones. However, in my experience such foods rarely act as a trigger in isolation, there are often other mitigating circumstances working in combination, like stress, a poor night’s sleep, dehydration, skipping breakfast or even just missing your habitual morning coffee causing a ‘caffeine withdrawal’ headache.   So rather than excluding all the potential foods, it may be worth keeping a migraine diary, doing a dietary recall after a migraine attack, whilst also noting any unusual circumstances of the day in question.   By keeping such notes you may be able to identify a pattern and your own personal triggers.

  • Lifestyle factors like eating regular meals, doing moderate exercise and sleeping well have been shown to reduce the frequency and severity of migraines.
  • Make sure you also wash all your fruit and vegetables to reduce your ingestion of chemical pesticides, and include plenty of colourful (washed/organic) vegetables in your diet, as this will ensure your liver has all the nutrients it needs to detoxify and clear such pesticides and toxins.
  • Ensure you eat plenty of dark green leafy vegetables and a few nuts daily, as these contain B vitamins and magnesium which have both been shown in trials to be low in people who suffer migraines. Magnesium is a mineral that can be absorbed through the skin by applying magnesium oil or taking Epsom salt baths. Some oral magnesium supplements can cause loose stools, which can be a plus if you suffer with constipation or your medication is constipating as a side effect, but loosening the stool can also mean that the magnesium is poorly absorbed. Always check with your GP or Nutritional Therapist before taking such supplements as they can interfere with other medication.
  • Try to increase your intake of healthy omega-3 fatty acids which are found in oily fish like salmon, sardines and mackerel, as well as walnuts and flaxseeds. Recent trials have shown this anti-inflammatory fatty acid reduces the severity of chronic headaches, so aim for 3-4 portions per week.

 

Ramsden CE et al., (2013) Targeted alteration of dietary n-3 and n-6 fatty acids for the treatment of chronic headaches: a randomized trial. Pain. 154(11):2441-51.