Foods to Eat
There are many lists out there with foods to avoid when battling migraine but it is much more encouraging to learn about what you can eat in order to prevent it. Let’s start with the nutrients that help fighting migraine and from there we can go through some foods that contain such nutrients. Knowing that, we will be able to focus on what snacks and meals you can introduce in your diet that will be beneficial to reduce migraine effects to a minimum.
Your main allies in your fight against migraine will be fatty acids, magnesium, riboflavin, coenzyme Q10, calcium and Vitamin D. Now we will get into more detail, but it is very important that you stay very well hydrated, or otherwise any effort to improve will be in vain: a regular water intake is one of the most essential steps towards getting any better.
Omega 3 fatty acids
Omega 3 helps on reducing migraine attacks due to its anti-inflammatory properties. These wonderful acids will prevent your blood vessels from compressing and causing strain on the blood flow.
The main source in nature is oily fish: Indulge yourself on the wonders of mackerel, salmon, sardines, halibut, tuna or herring. Eating a portion of this type of fish once or twice a week will be ideal.
The second best option is to introduce Omega 3 in your diet are walnuts, flaxseed, canola oil and Omega 3 fortified eggs. This few last picks are good for snacking. Omega 3 acids are also present in olive oil and canola oil.
Magnesium helps keep blood pressure normal, bones strong, and the heart rhythm steady. Get a kick of it when having spinach, broccoli, brown rice, potatoes, sweet potatoes, sunflower seeds, swiss chard and quinoa.
Magnesium is a mineral that helps cells process energy, low levels of magnesium are said to trigger migraine episodes. It is advised to avoid alcohol when battling migraine, but if you still have some, make sure you refill your depleted reserves of magnesium after having some drinks to avoid a painful headache.
Riboflavin is one of the group B vitamins and it alos plays an essential role in pushing away migraine from your life. Since it is a water-soluble vitamin, it cannot be stored in the body and should be replenished every day. It is essential for our body functions and helps in the processing of amino acids and fats. It is required for breaking down carbohydrates.
Sources of Riboflavin are spinach, broccoli, and almonds. Also lean beef, lamb and fortified breakfast cereals.
Remember that Riboflavin helps metabolizing magnesium!
As you are already seeing, all the basic nutrients for a good metabolic functioning of the body and riddance of migraine are interrelated. A good planning on what to have on a daily basis is essential and you should be strict on what you eat.
Coenzyme Q10 is related to how cells generate energy too. This is done by regenerating Mitochondria. Mitochondria is an organelle inside your cell. You have trillions of them, and they generate your cellular energy, called adenosine triphosphate (ATP). It’s like a battery or a generator in every single cell.
When your mitochondria are sick, dying, or they’re oxidized – because of excessive free radical damage—then your frequency for headaches goes up.
You can get coenzyme Q10 from foods like eggs, beans, oily fish; fruits like kiwi, cherries and plums.
Calcium & Vitamin D
Recent medical studies have indicated that introducing calcium together with Vitamin in your diet reduces the frequency of migraines in a very high percentage of patients.
The reason behind it is that body cells possess channels to transport minerals such as calcium sodium, magnesium or potassium, and its deficiencies are the initial cause of migraine attacks. With these channels not working at their ideal potential, serotonin will not be released at the required amounts. This will generate pains and migraines.
Calcium and Vitamin D will stop those channels form collapsing. To give you an idea of how important serotonin release is, beware that most drugs on sale to battle migraine are focused only on kicking your serotonin release to reduce pain. Now you can do this without the need of any artificial drugs, but obviously you must be strict on your diet.
You can get calcium from foods like mustard greens, cottage cheese, turnip greens, spinach and broccoli. And Vitamin D can be found in foods like shrimp, fortified milk, eggs and butter.
Foods to Avoid
As well as there are some foods that stop migraine attacks from occurring, there are also other foods that will empower potential pains.
If what you are after is to stop feeding those horrible headaches and pains beware of the negative effects of the following foods:
Excessive caffeine consumption is highly damaging to migraine sufferers. Likewise, when you totally ditch caffeinated drinks, it can also cause migraine attacks because of the sudden drop in caffeine levels in the body. Experts have found out that blood vessels may have been sensitized to caffeine, hence, when you don’t get to drink coffee or other caffeinated beverages, acute migraine attacks are experienced.
Some neurologists say it is a migraine trigger because it contains the amino acid tyramine. It is also true though that women tend to crave chocolate during stress and hormonal changes, both of which also may trigger headaches.
Alcohol (especially red wine)
Historical research suggests that wine is a migraine trigger because of its levels of tyramine. Newer research suggests that its content of some phytochemicals called phenols in red wine may be the real source of the attacks.
Other alcohol sources such as beer and whisky deplete levels of serotonin, which in turn allows migraines to occur.
Scientific research has indicated that there is a real relationship between consuming MSG’s and experiencing migraine attacks.
MSG, or monosodium glutamate, is an amino acid used as a food preservative and flavor enhancer, but it’s been implicated as the cause of many migraines. It is commonly used in chinese takeaway foods and soya sauces, but not limited to there. It may also be present in canned foods and all sorts of salted pre-cooked foods. In fact sometimes it is quite difficult to figure out what pre-cooked foods are MSG free. If you find to be very prone to migraine attacks when consuming pre-cooked or take away foods, do some research on what foods may be MSG-free.
Tyramine is an amino acid present in some foods which may cause blood vessels to dilate, which at the same time causes chain reaction triggered migraines. Food with tyramine is generally preserved or aged. Because of this, you should be very wary of leftovers that have been in the refrigerator for more than two days. The more aged foods are, the more likely that this food will be a migraine trigger. Foods to be careful with:
- Meat, fish, poultry and eggs and dairy: Anything aged, dried, fermented, salted, smoked or pickled. Watch out especially for pepperoni, salami and liverwurst.
- Aged cheese: Avoid aged cheese; the best cheese for you is fresh cheese, cottage cheese and cream cheese.
- Vegetables: Fava or broad beans, pickles and olives. Any fermented soy products (miso, soy sauce, teriyaki sauce).
- All nuts and seeds
- All alcoholic and fermented beverages
Nitrates and nitrites
Nitrates are easy to find in most foods, especially in processed meats, a variety of vegetavles and even drinking water. It is naturally occurring. However too much of it could be a problem; especially to those people who are migraine prone.
Nitrites are a much more toxic component, usually found in cured meats as color enhancer and to prevent bacteria from growing. Nitrites are widely regulated, however it is cautious giving it a though, as labeling is not so much regulated. Meat may read “no nitrite added”, for example, when in reality natural sources of nitrite are used.