Study finds Mediterranean diet rich in oily fish reduces migraines

Eating a Mediterranean diet containing lots of oily fish could help to reduce the frequency of migraines in people who suffer from them, data suggests.

Researchers at the the National Institute on Aging (NIA), a division of the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), recruited participants who suffered from migraines five to 20 times per month and discovered that those who ate a diet rich in these fatty acids, which can be found in oily fish such as sardines and salmon, had two to four fewer headaches every month.

Less intense and shorter migraines

In addition, the findings showed that the migraines the participants did suffer with were less intense and shorter.

The research involved 182 people, 88% of which were female migraine sufferers with an average age of 38. They were divided into three groups and given a varying amount of omega-3 fatty acids and asked to record their migraines.

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Diet high in omega-3

The participants on a high omega-3 diet – comprised of 1.5 grams per day — for 16 weeks had two fewer headaches per month, while those who had a diet rich in omega-3 but low in omega-6 had four fewer migraines each month.

High levels of omega-6, also known as linoleic acid, can be found in tofu, avocado oil, peanut butter and processed foods.

New approach to managing chronic pain

“This study provides a biologically plausible demonstration that pain can be treated through targeted dietary alterations in humans,” the researchers said, reports the Telegraph.

“Collective findings suggest causal mechanisms linking n-3 and n-6 fatty acids to (pain regulation), and open the door to new approaches for managing chronic pain in humans.”

The study was published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ).

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