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Eating more fish may help reduce migraines, study finds

Choosing fish oil over vegetable oil can reduce the pain, duration, and frequency of migraines

Photo (c) Westend61 - Getty Images
A new study conducted by researchers from the National Institutes of Health and the National Institute of Aging explored a dietary change that may help consumers who suffer from migraines. According to the team, following a diet that includes more fish oil -- as opposed to vegetable oil -- may help reduce migraines

“This research found intriguing evidence that dietary changes have potential for improving a very debilitating chronic pain condition like migraines without the related downside of prescribed medications,” said researcher Dr. Luigi Ferrucci. 

How diets can benefit chronic migraines

For the study, the researchers had nearly 200 adults follow one of three healthy diet plans for 16 weeks. One group ate foods high in fatty fish oils and low in unsaturated fat; a second group followed a diet high in fatty fish oils and high in unsaturated fat; and the third group ate foods high in unsaturated fats and low in fish oils. Over the course of the study, the participants recorded their experience with migraines and how they impacted their quality of life. 

The researchers learned that following a diet that was lower in unsaturated fat and higher in fish oil was associated with better migraine outcomes. Participants in this group experienced fewer headaches, less intense headaches, and the duration of their headaches was also reduced. Overall, migraines and migraine-related symptoms improved by up to 40% with this dietary change. 

Following a daily routine can be difficult for some migraine sufferers because the pain can make it harder to perform job duties, do household chores, or socialize with friends. While the participants only noted a slight improvement to their overall quality of life through the diet change, the researchers hope their findings can help more people better manage their pain on a daily basis.

“Changes in diet could offer some relief for the millions of Americans who suffer from migraine pain,” said researcher Chris Ramsden. “It’s further evidence that the foods we eat can influence pain pathways.” 

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