Migraine is a common ailment that affects hundreds of millions of people worldwide. Its can effects can be debilitating. Sufferers often have to stop their normal activities because of it and conventional medicine often does not work. However, by integrating certain foods into your diet, you can prevent or even stop these terrible episodes. To do this, Scientific Origin has identified the foods that have been proven to work effectively against headaches and migraines.
What is a migraine?
Migraines are characterized by repeated bouts of moderate to severe, usually one-sided, pounding headaches. These headaches are often accompanied by nausea and/or vomiting and worsen with physical exertion. There is also often a hypersensitivity to light and sound.
Although it is still unclear what the exact cause of migraines is, certain factors can play a role in the development of migraines. For example, people may be genetically predestined to get migraines. When migraines occur in the family, family members are significantly more at risk of getting migraines. Migraine is also a polygenetic disorder, which means that not one but several genes play a role.
Causes of a migraine
- Migraine is more common in women. It also appears from an early age.
- The hereditary factor is also quite important. It often determines the onset of migraine.
- Migraine is also caused by abnormal brain activity caused by changes in certain nerve pathways and surrounding tissues.
- Stress is obviously an important factor that can also cause severe migraine attacks.
- Liver problems.
- A poor diet.
- Hormonal changes.
- Vision problems, working long hours on the computer.
The triggers of a migraine
- A very stressful day.
- Changes in your sleep cycle.
- Fasting in the morning.
- Exposure to the sun for a long time.
- Menstruations as well as the use of birth control pills.
- Certain foods such as cocoa and dairy products, especially those containing tyramine (red wine, cheese, fish, chicken liver, figs, etc.).
- Very bright lights, strong smells, screeching sounds and noise.
Foods that can help stop or prevent migraines
One of the best-known foods for fighting migraines, coffee is a double-edged sword. Its caffeine can indeed help relieve a migraine attack or prevent it thanks to its vasoconstrictor effects, but it can also trigger it. This is because consuming a large dose of coffee can make your brain sensitive and dependent and lead to migraine attacks if you stop drinking it. This is why the American Migraine Foundation recommends that migraine sufferers a daily dose of coffee of 200 mg.
Migraines can be relieved with the B vitamins in spinach. The magnesium contained in spinach can also relieve both frequency and intensity of headache attacks. Migraine sufferers in particular often have particularly low magnesium levels. Other magnesium-rich foods such as buckwheat, quinoa, and bananas can also provide relief.
Ginger can also be a good reliever for migraines and headaches. The ingredients in ginger reduce the release of substances that can cause pain or swelling and inhibit certain hormones (prostaglandins), which play an important role in pain mediation.
Prostaglandins can dilate cerebral vessels. As a result, a kind of pressure may occur in the skull, which makes itself felt like a headache.
An American study published in the Journal BMJ found that eating a diet rich in fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, and trout can help reduce migraines. These fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acids, and docosahexaenoic acids (DHA) which give them anti-inflammatory properties.
Foods rich in magnesium
A low level of magnesium makes the brain more sensitive to migraine triggers. Indeed, it seems that half of the people with migraines are magnesium deficient. So this deficiency could be the cause of your headache. Enough magnesium is never wrong anyway. For example, it relaxes muscles and nerves and increases your resistance to stress, which can be extra beneficial for people with migraines. Daily 600 mg of magnesium already seems to reduce the risk of an attack.
Rosemary is known for its use in the kitchen. However, this aromatic herb also has some major health benefits. It has been used since antiquities to fight off headaches and migraines. You can make infusions with it or you can use its essential oil in diffusers, or you can apply it directly to your temple.
Very effective against migraines, peppermint has sedative and analgesic properties. You can apply a few drops of its essential oil on your temple to alleviate the migraine. You can also use it in infusion or inhalation.
It may not look like it. But potatoes are quite good at fighting migraines and headaches. This is because potatoes are rich in potassium and vitamin B. To get the best results from potatoes, it’s best to bake them with their skin on. Avoid French fries and chips, the oil in those foods can make your migraine worse instead of helping you.
It goes without saying that herbal infusions or tea are very effective in fighting headaches and migraines. They have been used for centuries at this end. Linden, lemon balm, or lavender are particularly renowned for their powerful sedative action that is quite effective against migraines.
Lemon is a citrus fruit that allows us to treat many health problems, thanks to the exceptional properties it has. Since it is a medicinal and depurative food par excellence, lemon is a great purifier of our body. Combined with salt, lemon can be a great remedy against migraines. The combination of the acidity of lemon and sea salt helps to compensate for a lack of magnesium which can be the cause of migraine. Note also that the lack of magnesium often manifests itself if you lack sleep, or if your sleep is of poor quality.
Fruits, vegetables and legumes
We all know it. To be healthy, we must adopt a diet rich in fruits and vegetables. This also goes for migraines. In addition to providing a lot of vitamins and nutrients that are essential for the well-functioning of the body, fruits and vegetables also contain plant estrogen that can make up for a deficiency in women during menstruations.
Indeed, a lot of women experience menstrual migraines due to a sudden drop in estrogen production just before their period.
Stress can promote the onset of a migraine. One of the first causes of stress is a magnesium deficiency? Fortunately, some foods, such as nuts, contain this essential mineral.
Sunflower seeds are rich in magnesium. Remember, this mineral fights against stress which is often the cause of migraine. Other than sunflower seeds (and nuts, as said above), brown rice, chestnuts, brewer’s yeast, or chocolate are also good sources of magnesium.
Dehydration is one of the main causes of migraines. Indeed, when the body is not sufficiently hydrated, it registers a certain imbalance. Most of the time, these headaches happen at the end of the day. Recommendation: drink between 1.5 L and 2.5 L of water during the day.
Remember that there is also water in fruits and vegetables. Some of them are even strongly recommended: watermelon, cucumber, melon, and lettuce.
Watermelon is about 90% water. Cucumber contains more than 96% water. Lettuce is 90-95% water.
Almonds naturally provide relief from headaches and migraines thanks to the magnesium and salicin they contain. Salicin is even the main ingredient in aspirin pills.
Yoghurts and dairy products
It is not uncommon to experience calcium deficiencies. This one has a however an essential role within the nerve cells. In case of imbalance, the body can therefore trigger migraines. In this case, the lack must be filled as quickly as possible so that the nerve cells regain their proper functioning.
For an adult, the dose is set at 900 mg/day. However, it must be ensured that the migraine is not linked to a food intolerance to caseins in milk.
Avoid skipping meals
The intricacies of life can often make us skip on a meal. However, skipping meals leads to a sudden drop in blood sugar levels. To compensate the body releases certain hormones. This causes an increase in blood pressure and narrowing of the arteries, hence the headache. To avoid this, try to eat at regular intervals and avoid snacking outside of your regular schedule.
Cassidy is a certified dietician with a focus on patients suffering with diabetes. She has more than 10 years of experience, working with patients of different background. She writes health-related article for the Scientific Origin.