If you’ve ever had a migraine, you’re aware that a variety of things can cause it. High-stress levels, sleep disturbances, weather changes, and your nutrition, including what you eat and drink and when are all examples. Check out how a migraine diet can help.
In This Article:
- Eat Fresh Foods
- Include Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Your Migraine Diet
- Don’t Eat Foods With MSG
- Stay Hydrated
- Reduce Caffeine
5 Migraine Diet Tips and Things You Need to Know
1. Eat Fresh Foods
Everyone benefits from a well-balanced, nutritious diet, but processed foods are exceptionally high in migraine-inducing chemicals. A new diet is a healthy migraine diet. Similar to the Mediterranean diet, this entails consuming a wide range of vegetables, fruits, and lean meats.
Here’s a list of foods to stay away from:
- Hot dogs, sausage, and bacon are examples of processed meats that include nitrates.
- Tyramine is found in aged cheeses such as blue cheese and red wine.
- Beta-phenylethylamine is found in chocolate.
- Aspartame and sucralose are artificial sweeteners.
You can control what goes into each dish and ensure that you’re consuming fresh, uncomplicated ingredients when you cook from scratch. While you don’t have to avoid all of the foods listed above, you can start by having a low-tyramine diet just to be safe. And see if you can find a correlation between them and headaches.
2. Include Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Your Migraine Diet
According to Dr. Martin, who co-authored a two-part study on migraine and diet published in October 2016 in Headache: The Journal of Headache and Face Pain, “some data suggests that eating inflammation-fighting foods may help lessen migraines.” Those high in omega-3 fatty acids, in particular, can help reduce inflammation, whereas foods high in omega-6 fatty acids can exacerbate inflammation.
“It’s the ratio of those things that matters; it’s not simply eating omega-3s, but also restricting omega-6 fatty acids,” Martin explains. Salmon, flaxseed, olive oil, and walnuts are all high in omega-3. Vegetable oils, such as corn oil, contain omega-6 fatty acids.
Low-fat diets may also help some people with migraines, according to the study. Still, any significant dietary changes should be discussed with your doctor.
3. Don’t Eat Foods With MSG
If you’ve ever had a migraine after eating at an Asian restaurant, monosodium glutamate, or MSG, could be to blame. MSG is a flavor enhancer that can be found in packaged foods, bouillon, soy sauce, and Asian cuisine.
MSG may be listed under other names, such as “natural flavoring,” “all-natural preservatives,” “hydrolyzed fat,” or “hydrolyzed protein,” making it difficult to find.
You’ll know whether you’re susceptible to MSG if any of the following occur within 20 to 25 minutes of taking it:
- Facial flushing
- A burning sensation or tightness in the chest
- Abdominal pain
MSG’s ‘shape’ is also important. “Studies suggest that MSG in liquid is more likely to trigger a headache than MSG in solid food,” explains Martin. “This is due to the fact that food slows the absorption of MSG.” As a result, wonton soup from your favorite Chinese restaurant is more likely to give you a headache than, say, General Tso’s chicken. Therefore, you might need to lay off the MSG.
4. Stay Hydrated
When it comes to a migraine diet, staying hydrated is crucial because dehydration is a typical migraine trigger. Mild to moderate headaches can be a symptom of dehydration. Aim for eight 8-ounce (oz) glasses of water each day, though this may vary depending on other factors. When it’s hot or dry outside, or when you exercise, you may need to drink more water. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding need to drink more water.
To stay hydrated, stick to water, but you can also try herbal teas or other nutritious liquids for variety.
5. Reduce Caffeine
Caffeine, present in tea, coffee, and soda, has a shaky relationship with migraines. Caffeine can really benefit those who are experiencing a migraine attack because it includes pain-relieving characteristics; in fact, it’s a popular element in headache relief medication.
Caffeine usage in tiny doses is unlikely to harm you. “Unless their headaches are particularly severe, 1 cup of caffeine a day is fine for most people with migraines,” Martin explains. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, an 8 oz cup of coffee has roughly 95 mg of caffeine.
People who drink too much caffeine develop a tolerance, which increases their likelihood of experiencing caffeine withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety and headache when they stop taking it. Caffeine withdrawal headaches can begin as soon as 12 to 24 hours after the last dose of caffeine, peak 20 to 51 hours later, and persist for up to nine days.
To be safe, restrict your caffeine intake (for example, no more than 2.8-oz cups of coffee or tea) unless you notice that even a small amount causes you to get a migraine.
Always consult with your healthcare professional before making dietary adjustments to confirm that they are safe for you.
If you have questions about the migraine diet or any of the conditions discussed here, connect with us and learn more. Get information and support from our Blogs and shop our Supplements and Cosmeceuticals for Integrative Medicine.
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