Studies show migraines can be comforted by eating fatty fish
For anyone who suffers from chronic migraines, increasing the consumption of omega-3 fatty acids found in fatty fish can help relieve the pain. These specific acids EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) are contained within fatty fish such as salmon, trout, sardines, and mackerel.
According to a16-week randomized controlled study done by the University of North Carolina Medical Center in Chapel Hill, a diet rich in omega-3s reduced the frequency and severity of headaches in migraine sufferers. The studies suggest that modifying our eating habits can have a substantial impact on headaches and migraines.
After the 16 weeks, the participants in the study who consumed foods high in EPA and DHA had 30–40% less days of migraines per month than the participants who ate a lower consumption of omega-3s. “The results on their own are significant, there’s still the question of what could happen if you follow the diet for even longer: What if you’re on it for six months, or a lifetime? It’s extremely promising,” says clinical nutrition director at UNC, Beth MacIntosh, RD.
It was noted by the researchers that the high EPA and DHA diets increase blood levels of oxylipin, a derivative of omega-3 fatty acids that aids in the reduction of pain and inflammation. The same study highlighted that from a nutritional point of view, there is an opportunity to increase or decrease pain pathways whenever we eat food. For example, eating fatty fish or cooking with olive oil may decrease pain pathway molecules when compared to eating a donut.
Keep in mind that fatty fish is not the only food high in omega-3s. For vegetarians or vegans, flax seeds, chia seeds, walnuts, and soybeans are also high in omega-3s. Meat eaters can also indulge in this too, as adding healthy fats to any diet while subtracting unhealthy fats will benefit your health and reduce migraines.
Even if you are lucky enough to never have migraines at all, it is worth trying to add more omega-3s to your diet if you have not already done so. As the saying goes, a fish (or walnut) a day may keep the migraines away!