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Migraine Dietary Advice To Reduce Symptoms of Severe Headaches

Migraine Headache Attacks

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Migraine and Diet

Migraine - the severe headache involving intense throbbing pain behind the eyes or in the temples, often accompanied by nausea, numbness and sweating - is classified into two types. The less common type is migraine with aura. In this, the migraine attack is preceded by flashing lights before the eyes, or an aversion to bright lights. More commonly, there are no warning signs. This type is called migraine without aura. An estimated 1 in 2 of women suffer from headaches, compared to 1 in 3 men and migraine affects twice as many women as men.

What Causes Migraine? How Does Diet Help?

All types of headache, including migraine, are related to changes in the blood supply to the brain. The root cause(s) for these changes is unknown. Common culprits include stress, hormones, food allergies, a sudden fall in blood sugar caused by lack of food. The connection between diet and migraine concerns the effect of certain foods on blood vessels in the brain. They cause the vessels to alternately constrict and dilate, which produces the intense migraine pain. Normal dilation is regulated by certain B-complex vitamins (eg. niacin), and may also be upset by certain toxins (eg. tyramine, a derivative of the amino acid tyrosine) in such foods as chocolate, cheese, liver and sausages, broad beans and pickled herrings. In addition, migraine attacks may be triggered by food intolerances to certain food items.

Diet Advice For Migraine Patients

To improve vascular function, and thus help reduce migraines, try these dietary tips.

  • Do not go longer than 3-4 hours without eating something. This helps to prevent a fall in blood sugar.
  • Eliminate the most common trigger foods from your diet. These include: chocolate, cheese, citrus fruits and caffeine. Also eliminate monosodium glutamate (MSG). Other trigger foods include: red wine, port, tea, and colas. If this produces no effect, try eliminating wheat, milk, bananas, nuts and peanut butter.
  • Eat more oily fish (mackerel, sardines or salmon) for its anti-inflammatory benefits.
  • Add fresh ginger to cooking, drink it as a tea, or take it in tablet form to stimulate circulation.
  • Copper deficiency appears to be linked with recurrent headaches. To boost your copper intake, eat more: oysters, nuts, seeds, liver and green olives.
  • Vitamin E is another essential micronutrient for a healthy circulatory system. To increase your vitamin E intake, take 1 tsp of wheatgerm oil daily, or eat more olive oil, avocados, sunflower seeds, and sesame seeds.
  • Other helpful micronutrients to reduce migraine symptoms include: magnesium (from foods like wheatgerm, sesame seeds, figs, apples), and vitamin B6 (from foods like fish, soybeans, lean meat, cantaloupe).


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