Migraine is a condition where people are affected by recurrent painful headaches that last for days. Its other symptoms include hypersensitivity to light, smell and sound, visual disturbances before an attack, and pain in only one side of the head. The relation between diet and migraines has been a topic of constant study. Several foods can trigger a migraine attack, and certain supplements can reduce their occurrence and severity.
Here are six dietary tips that help manage migraines.
Choose fresh food over processed food
While a nutritious diet is a must for everyone, research on the relation between diet and migraines shows that processed foods are likely to trigger migraines. A healthy diet for migraines includes several fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and can be similar to a Mediterranean diet. Some foods that should be avoided include nitrite-rich foods like bacon, hot dogs, and deli meats aged cheeses as they contain migraine-inducing tyramine, red wine, foods with artificial sweeteners, and more.
Identify your triggers
One of the most important aspects of the relation between diet and migraines are trigger foods. Even if the food you consume is organic, fresh, and nutritious, it might be the cause of inducing a migraine. Common food triggers are beans, citrus fruits, nuts (especially peanuts), and cultured dairy items. If you find that consuming these foods leads to an onset of migraine attacks, they are best avoided. In people with celiac disease, gluten can act as a trigger for migraines too.
Staying hydrated is essential
A most common migraine trigger is dehydration. It is necessary to drink at least 8-12 glasses of water every day to keep yourself sufficiently hydrated. However, if you are exercising or live in hot climates, this amount needs to be higher. Pregnant women at the risk of migraines too need to drink more quantities of water. You can consume herbal teas or low-sodium soups, drinking sodas, and processed fruit juices.
Caffeine is healthy in moderation
In the relation between diet and migraines, one of the most-discussed topics is caffeine consumption. In smaller amounts, caffeine can actually help lower pain and is the main component of several medications for headaches. If you are suffering from migraines, it is recommended you limit your caffeine intake to one cup of coffee or tea per day. Caffeine in large amounts can induce migraines. Furthermore, if you cut off caffeine from your diet after consuming it regularly and in large quantities, it can lead to withdrawal symptoms, which include headaches.
Skipping meals should be avoided
Eating food after a long period of fasting can lead to a sudden increase in blood sugar levels, which can trigger migraine headaches. It is better to eat six small meals with limited calories throughout the day instead of having three large ones. Another way to avoid migraine headaches is to snack in between meals. Choose healthy snacks like nuts and fruits instead of processed food and avoid any foods that are known triggers of migraine.
Some supplements can help prevent migraines
Having a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids (salmon, nuts, sunflower seeds) can help prevent migraine attacks. If needed, you can also take omega-3 supplements like cod liver oil to add them to your diet. There are certain herbal supplements like butterbur that are known to reduce the frequency of migraine headaches. Low intake of the antioxidant coenzyme Q10 and vitamins and minerals like folate, riboflavin, and magnesium are also linked to migraines.