10 Best Foods for Migraineby Mark Canadic Patient Advocate
When it comes to health, I make sure I use my food as medicine to supercharge my body's ability to heal quickly and efficiently. If we don’t provide the nutrients that are the building blocks of our brain cells, our brain cannot maintain a steady stream of energy and gets choked up. Several studies show how the right kind of nutrition produces migraine relief. Here are 10 best foods that may prevent migraines.
Ginger has been used as a remedy for thousands of years for all types of ailments, including pain, motion, sickness, and nausea. In a 2014 study, 250mg of ginger was found to be equally as effective as sumatriptan for immediately stopping migraines. Ginger has also been shown to reduce Calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) in migraine. Some of the easiest ways to use ginger include cutting up the raw root in cooking, making tea, and stirring powder into smoothies.
Spinach is one of the best migraine foods, particularly because it is high in magnesium. One study found that magnesium deficiency might be present in up to half of migraine patients, and that “oral magnesium is warranted in all migraine sufferers.” One cup of cooked spinach provides 157mg of magnesium (39 percent of the recommended daily value). Throw it in a smoothie, eat it in a salad, or mix it with whatever other foods you are eating.
Turmeric is a star player in the battle against inflammation. Inflammation is one half of the duo, along with oxidation, that creates all the fire in our brains triggering headaches. Turmeric’s active ingredient curcumin helps fight inflammation, depression, serotonin deficiency, chronic fatigue, and mitochondrial dysfunction—all major factors in migraine.
Healthy fats protect our brain and insulate our neurons. They also protect our brain from blood sugar spikes and drops, which destroy our brain’s steady supply of nutrients and create an inflammatory and oxidative storm. Coconut oil is one of the best fats. Its saturated fat content helps balance any other fats we eat with it and it also delivers amazing fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E, and K.
Studies show that a class of botanicals called adaptogens can provide support for managing stress. The term “adaptogen” categorizes plants that improve response to stress. They help us “adapt” to the world. Ashwagandha is one of my favorites. Other adaptogenic plants include Withania somnifera, Glycyrrhiza species, Rhodiola rosea, Panax and Eleutherococcus.
B vitamin-rich foods
Studies show that B vitamins have incredible benefits for migraines and headaches. When we can eat it in a bound form or nutrient complex, such as is found in all plants and animals, we get far better absorption and utilization by our bodies. One ounce of beef liver provides 300 percent of our daily value of B12. Grandma knew what she was doing when she would fry it up with some garlic and onions for us.
Small, wild, fatty fish
A 2015 study found that the dietary intake of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids were associated with fewer migraine attacks. One of the best sources of omega-3s is small, wild, fatty fish. Sardines are an easy food that you can travel with. Not only do you get the benefits of the fat-soluble vitamins, but you also get all the minerals from the bones and antioxidants from the skin. Wild-caught sardines are far healthier than farm raised.
Pumpkin seeds provide significant amounts of zinc, an essential mineral for proper functioning of our hormones and enzymes. Zinc helps us digest food properly, preventing us from developing food sensitivities that trigger migraine and regulates hormones around ovulation and menses, helping to control migraine. Pumpkins seeds also provide magnesium, antioxidants, and healthy fats.
Avocado is a great source of potassium. Eating lots of foods with potassium and magnesium helps us balance sodium in our bodies and maintain hydration throughout all of our cells. This is crucial for minimizing the fire inside the migraine brain.
Sea plants like seaweed contain a full spectrum of minerals that simply don’t exist in inland plants and animals. We need them for every system we have, especially our brains and hormones. Migraines are often linked with thyroid disease, for which iodine deficiency plays a definite role. Seaweed is packed full of iodine. Other nutritious sea plants include kelp, kombu, dulse, nori, and Irish moss.