If you suffer from migraine, you’re likely aware that certain foods and drinks can trigger a migraine attack. So, you probably already know what not to eat, but what about what you should eat?

The right diet can potentially bring relief or reduce the severity of your attacks and symptoms, especially when you have chronic migraine. Consider making changes to your diet by incorporating these healthy foods and drinks for chronic migraine headache treatment:

1. Magnesium-rich foods: Magnesium deficiency has been strongly linked to migraines, as magnesium plays a crucial role in various physiological processes related to migraine pathogenesis. Consuming magnesium-rich foods is a natural and effective way to increase magnesium levels in the body, potentially reducing the frequency and severity of migraines.

Magnesium-rich foods such as spinach, almonds, avocado, pumpkin seeds, and whole grains offer a plethora of health benefits beyond migraine prevention.

  • Spinach: This leafy green vegetable is not only rich in magnesium but also packed with other essential nutrients like iron, vitamins A and C, and antioxidants. Including spinach in your diet can promote overall health and well-being.
  • Almonds: Almonds are an excellent source of magnesium, providing a convenient and tasty way to boost your intake of this essential mineral. Additionally, almonds contain healthy fats, protein, fiber, and antioxidants, making them a nutritious snack option.
  • Avocado: Avocado is not only rich in magnesium but also contains healthy monounsaturated fats, which are beneficial for heart health. Avocado is also a good source of potassium, fiber, vitamins E, K, and B vitamins, making it a nutrient-dense addition to your diet.
  • Pumpkin seeds: Pumpkin seeds are a nutrient powerhouse, containing high levels of magnesium, zinc, iron, and antioxidants. Incorporating pumpkin seeds into your meals or snacks can provide a significant boost of essential nutrients and may help reduce the frequency of migraines.
  • Whole grains: Whole grains like oats, quinoa, brown rice, and whole wheat are excellent sources of magnesium, fiber, and other essential nutrients. Consuming whole grains as part of a balanced diet can support overall health and may contribute to migraine prevention.

2. Omega-3 fatty acids: are essential nutrients found in certain foods, particularly fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and sardines, as well as in plant-based sources such as flaxseeds, chia seeds, and walnuts. These fatty acids, specifically EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) have been studied for their potential benefits in managing various health conditions, including chronic migraines.

The association between omega-3 fatty acids and chronic migraines stems from several mechanisms:

  • Anti-inflammatory effects: Chronic inflammation is believed to contribute to migraine pathogenesis. Omega-3 fatty acids have well-documented anti-inflammatory properties, which can help reduce inflammation throughout the body, including in the brain. By decreasing inflammation, omega-3 fatty acids may help alleviate migraine symptoms and reduce the frequency of migraine attacks.
  • Neurological modulation: Omega-3 fatty acids play a crucial role in maintaining the structure and function of brain cells. They are particularly important for optimizing neuronal membrane integrity and facilitating neurotransmitter signalling. Studies suggest that omega-3 fatty acids may help regulate neurotransmitter pathways involved in pain perception and migraine development.
  • Vasodilatory effects: Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to promote vasodilation and the widening of blood vessels. Since migraines are often associated with abnormal changes in blood vessel tone and function, omega-3 fatty acids may help improve blood flow to the brain, potentially reducing the occurrence of migraines.
  • Mood regulation: Chronic migraines are frequently comorbid with mood disorders such as anxiety and depression. Omega-3 fatty acids have been studied for their potential mood-stabilizing effects, which may indirectly benefit individuals with chronic migraines by improving overall mental well-being and stress management.

While research on the specific effects of omega-3 fatty acids on chronic migraines is ongoing, incorporating omega-3-rich foods into the diet or taking omega-3 supplements may be a valuable adjunctive therapy for migraine management. However, it’s important to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any supplementation regimen, especially if you have underlying health conditions or are taking medications.

Food and Drinks for Migraine Relief

3. Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is a naturally occurring compound found in every cell of the body, where it plays a vital role in cellular energy production and serves as a potent antioxidant. Research suggests that CoQ10
supplementation may help reduce the frequency and severity of migraines by improving mitochondrial function and reducing oxidative stress.

Foods rich in CoQ10 provide a dietary source of this essential compound, offering potential benefits for migraine prevention and overall health. These foods include organ meats such as liver and kidneys, which are particularly high in CoQ10 content. Additionally, fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and sardines are excellent sources of CoQ10, along with being rich in omega-3 fatty acids and other nutrients beneficial for brain health.

Whole grains such as oats, brown rice, and whole wheat also contain CoQ10, albeit in smaller amounts compared to animal-based sources. Nuts like almonds, hazelnuts, and peanuts are another excellent source of CoQ10, providing a convenient and nutritious way to incorporate this antioxidant into your diet.

By including CoQ10-rich foods in your meals and snacks, you can support mitochondrial function, reduce oxidative stress, and potentially decrease the frequency of migraine attacks. However, it’s essential to maintain a balanced diet that includes a variety of nutrient-dense foods to ensure optimal CoQ10 intake and overall health benefits. If considering CoQ10 supplementation for migraine prevention, it’s advisable to consult with a healthcare professional to determine the appropriate dosage and suitability based on individual health needs and medical history.

4.  Ketogenic foods – Research continues to support the effectiveness of a keto diet in reducing migraine attacks. Some individuals with migraine have reported a decrease in migraine frequency and severity while following a ketogenic diet

The association between ketogenic foods, characterized by a high-fat, low-carbohydrate intake, may be attributed to several factors:

The ketogenic diet, characterized by a high-fat, low-carbohydrate intake, has gained attention for its potential therapeutic effects on various health conditions, including epilepsy and neurodegenerative disorders. Some individuals with migraines have reported improvements in migraine frequency and severity while following a ketogenic diet, although the evidence supporting its efficacy for migraine management is limited and mixed.

The association between ketogenic foods and migraines may be attributed to several factors:

  • Ketosis-induced changes in brain metabolism: The ketogenic diet induces a state of ketosis, wherein the body primarily utilizes ketone bodies derived from fat as its primary fuel source instead of glucose. This metabolic shift may lead to alterations in brain metabolism and neurotransmitter activity, potentially affecting migraine pathophysiology.
  • Stabilization of blood sugar levels: By minimizing carbohydrate intake and reducing fluctuations in blood sugar levels, the ketogenic diet may help stabilize energy metabolism and prevent insulin spikes, which are believed to be migraine triggers for some individuals.
  • Anti-inflammatory effects: Some ketogenic foods, such as fatty fish, avocados, and olive oil, are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and other anti-inflammatory compounds. By reducing systemic inflammation, these foods may help alleviate migraine symptoms and decrease the frequency of migraine attacks.
  • Reduction in migraine triggers: The ketogenic diet eliminates or restricts many common migraine triggers, such as processed foods, refined sugars, and artificial additives. Avoiding these potential triggers may contribute to improvements in migraine management for some individuals.
  • Enhanced mitochondrial function: Ketogenic foods provide the body with a source of high-quality fats and nutrients that support mitochondrial function and cellular energy production. Improved mitochondrial function may help protect against oxidative stress and reduce migraine susceptibility.

5. Water – Staying hydrated is important in chronic migraine headache treatment because it prevents dehydration, which can trigger your symptoms. Besides drinking water, there are other ways to stay hydrated, such as eating watermelon and drinking tea, yogurt, cucumbers, cantaloupe, strawberries, and iceberg lettuce.

Elimination diet

As with any dietary approach for migraine management, it’s essential to consult with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian to determine the most appropriate and sustainable dietary strategy based on individual health needs, preferences, and medical history. Additionally, keeping a detailed food diary and monitoring migraine symptoms can help identify potential triggers and assess the effectiveness of dietary interventions for migraine prevention and management.

Certain people experiencing migraine attacks may attempt elimination diets, such as the ketogenic diet, in an effort to alleviate their symptoms. However, elimination diets that exclude entire food groups can potentially lead to malnutrition, resulting in more harm than benefit.

A 2020 study highlights the long-term negative impact of undernutrition associated with elimination diets. Therefore, it is crucial to consult with a doctor or registered dietitian before embarking on any dietary changes. They can offer personalized guidance to ensure your health and well-being are prioritized safely.