Scientists at the University of Cincinnati have just conducted a massive literature review of 180 studies to find connections between diet and migraine.
They published the results in two parts in the journal Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain.
Doctors Vincent Martin and Brinder Vij explain that there are generally two approaches to follow.
One will do very little good; the other can completely eliminate your migraine. In today’s article we’ll reveal these two approaches and how to do the good one…
1) You can avoid specific types of food that trigger your migraines.
2) You can construct a diet from the bottom up that, through its very composition, prevents migraine attacks.
Chances are good that you are currently doing the former. In this regard, the scientists mention excessive caffeine, caffeine withdrawal, alcohol, MSG (monosodium glutamate), and nitrates as potential causes of migraines.
To avoid excessive caffeine or caffeine withdrawal, simply keep your coffee consumption consistent from day to day at no more than 400 mg or four cups of coffee.
MSG and nitrates are harder to avoid.
You will have to steer clear of processed foods like deli meats, bacon, and sausage to sidestep nitrates, and canned foods, soup, sauces, ketchup, salad dressings, and salty snacks to get around MSG.
But the scientists actually believe the better way to prevent migraines is to follow a diet whose composition combats these intense headaches.
There are three such diets that the literature identifies as relatively effective.
1. A low-fat diet that restricts your intake of fat to less than 20 percent of your daily calorie intake.
2. A diet that boosts your omega-3 fatty acid intake while restricting your omega-6 consumption.
3. A low carbohydrate diet that restricts your intake of carbs even further than the infamous Atkins diet does. This diet supposedly prevents the inflammation and oxidative damage that injure your brain, but because your body produces potentially harmful ketone bodies in the absence of carbohydrates, this is not a diet you should follow at home without careful medical supervision.
The first two of these are more promising, and the second one is relatively easy to implement.
A straightforward low-fat diet requires that you keep your intake of red meat, sausage, processed meats, high-fat milk, butter, cheese, fish, vegetable oils, nut and seed oils, nuts, seeds, soy beans, soy sauce, and all products that contain these to a minimum. Even legumes contain a lot of fat.
On this diet, you will eat mostly skinless chicken, fruit, vegetables, and whole grains.
Sadly, oil is responsible for a lot of the flavor in food, so this diet may be fairly bland if you follow it strictly.
A diet that allows plenty of omega-3 fatty acids while curbing your intake of omega-6 might be easier.
This rules out oils like soy bean, corn, cottonseed, grape seed, poppy seed, safflower, sunflower, rice bran, peanut, and sesame.
If you want to follow the diet extremely strictly, you will also have to avoid almost all nuts and seeds, except flaxseed and chia seed.
It requires that you eat plenty of fish, flaxseed, chia seed, legumes vegetables, herbs, and fruit.
As always, try all of these to test which one works for your body.