Prevent or Reduce Migraines with a Headache Diet

Science Daily reported on a recent literature review study  by Professor Vincent Martin, MD of the Department of Internal Medicine at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine that undertook to examine the effects of diet on migraine.  What Dr. Martin and his colleagues discovered was that eating a healthy diet that is low in fat and avoids processed foods may help to prevent migraines.


Martin’s two-part review, “Diet and Headache” is available online in the scholarly publication Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain. It is co-authored by Brinder Vij, MD, associate professor in the UC Department of Neurology and Rehabilitation Medicine.


“One of the most important triggers for headache is the withdrawal of caffeine,” says Martin, who also sees patients at UC Health. “Let’s say you regularly pound down three or four cups of coffee every morning and you decide to skip your morning routine one day, you will likely have full-fledged caffeine withdrawal headache that day.”


That said, too much coffee may also present a risk, no more than 400 milligrams daily — one cup is 125 milligrams — is probably the maximum for migraine patients, says Martin. “Large amounts of caffeine can bring on anxiety and depressive symptoms as well as headaches,” he explains.


Another trigger for migraine is MSG, which is a flavor enhancer used in a variety of processed foods, including frozen or canned foods, soups, international foods, snack foods, salad dressing, seasoning salts, ketchup, barbecue sauce, and heavily in Chinese cooking, says Martin, also a UC Health physician.


“You eliminate it by eating fewer processed foods,” explains Martin. “You eat more natural things such as fresh vegetables, fresh fruits and fresh meats. MSG is most provocative when consumed in liquids such as soups.”


There have been three comprehensive diets whose very composition may prevent headaches such as low fat and low carbohydrate diets as well as those that increase the amount of omega-3 fatty acids and decrease the amount of omega-6 fatty acids, according to Martin.


Vij, who is also associate director of the Headache and Facial Pain Center at the UC Gardner Neuroscience Institute, says low fat diets restrict the amount of fat in the diet to less than 20 percent of your daily energy requirements.


“The beauty of these diets is that they not only reduce headaches, but may produce weight loss and prevent heart disease,” says Vij ,a UC Health physician.


Read the entire article at Science Daily.

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