Headaches: The foods that could help fight a ‘very debilitating chronic pain condition’

Migraines: Peter Goadsby discusses preventive drugs

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The fat contained in fish could help reduce the frequency and intensity of chronic migraines. A new study has found that a diet high in fatty fish might be more efficient for people living with chronic headaches compared to a diet based on vegetable fats and oils. The study was carried out by the National Institutes of Health, together with University of North Carolina researchers. It was based on 182 adults with frequent migraines.

Researchers found that a diet higher in omega-3 fatty acids and lower in linoleic acid could soothe chronic headaches.

Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in fish and shellfish.

While linoleic acid is a common polyunsaturated fatty acid found in plants.

It is found, for example, in nut and seed oil, as well as in foods like soybean and corn.

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The study observed that people eating a diet lower in vegetable oil and higher in fatty fish experienced 30-40 percent fewer headache hours per day.

Severe headache hours per day were also 30 percent lower.

And overall headache days per month were up to 40 percent lower too when compared to people eating more vegetable oil.

Blood samples from people preferring fatty fish also showed lower levels of pain-related lipids.

Although the frequency and pain of migraines were reduced in people eating more fish oil, their reported quality of life saw only “minor improvements”.

Migraine-related pain still had a big impact on their lives.

This neurological disease is indeed one of the most common causes of chronic pain, lost work time, and poor quality of life worldwide.

More than four million people around the globe suffer from the condition.

Research shows that more than 90 percent of people affected by chronic headaches are unable to function normally during an attack.

Women, in particular, are prone to chronic migraines, especially between the ages of 18 and 44.

At present, preventative treatment could help manage chronic pain through supplements, lifestyle changes, and medication.

Its goal is to reduce the frequency, painfulness, and duration of migraines.

Dr Luigi Ferrucci at the National Institutes of Health commented: “This research found intriguing evidence that dietary changes have potential for improving a very debilitating chronic pain condition like migraine.”

He added that this preventative solution doesn’t have the downsides of “often prescribed medications”.

Changes in diet, researchers argued, could offer some relief for the millions of people who suffer from chronic headaches.

“It’s further evidence that the foods we eat can influence pain pathways,” they concluded.

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