Migraine sufferers, eating fatty fish might help ease your pain


Saltwater fish like tuna contain omega-3 fatty acids like DHA and EPA, which can help reduce the pain of migraines. — dpa

Consuming a diet with more fish fats and less vegetable oils can reduce migraine headaches, a new study has found.

The study, by researchers from the US National Institute on Aging, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, was published in The BMJ journal.

Fatty fish are the best food source of omega-3 fatty acids, which play an important role in human metabolism.

They’re the building blocks of our cell membranes, anti-inflammatory and positively affect lipid (fat) metabolism, points out Germany’s Federal Centre for Nutrition (BZfE).

They’ve also been found to lower the risk of heart attack and stroke, and have a beneficial effect on cholesterol levels.

Omega-3 fatty acids are a key family of polyunsaturated fats.

Particularly important for the human body are docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), found mainly in fatty fish, and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), found in some plants.

But most people’s diet contain more omega-6 fatty acids, chiefly linoleic acid.

Many processed foods are high in them, the BZfE says, as linoleic acid-enriched vegetable and seed oils are ubiquitous in modern societies.

Natural sources of DHA and EPA include fatty saltwater fish such as mackerel, herring, tuna and salmon.

For a vegan diet, there are DHA-rich oils from various microalgae.

ALA can be found, for example, in rapeseed, walnut and flaxseed oil, nuts, leafy green vegetables and chia seeds.

In the nearly four-year study, 182 migraine patients followed one of three diets.

The control diet was designed to maintain average American intakes of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.

The second diet had increased amounts of EPA and DHA, as did the third, which also had a decreased amount of linoleic acid.

Participants who followed the second and third diets reported shorter and less severe headaches, compared with those in the control group.

Some were even able to reduce their medication intake.

Their headache frequency was also statistically significantly decreased.

The second diet, high in omega-3, was associated with a reduction of two headache days per month, with twice that number in the third diet high in omega-3 and low in omega-6.

Results of the study suggest that a change of diet can help relieve migraines and other chronic pain, the BZfE says.

Specifically, the right ratio of omega-3 fatty acids to omega-6 fatty acids is important, as they’re enzymatically converted to signalling molecules (oxylipins) that increase pain (i.e. linoleic acid) or decrease it (i.e. DHA and EPA). – dpa

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Migraine , headache , diet , fat


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