If you regularly suffer from headaches, or worse yet, migraines, then you know how hellish it can be to live with them. Nothing can derail a good day quite like a migraine that hits you out of nowhere, especially when it sticks around for no rhyme or reason. Finding treatments and therapies for chronic headaches can be a frustrating, and often fruitless struggle, but there may be some good news on the horizon: Some researchers believe your diet can affect your headaches to some extent, and this theory is about to be studied in much more detail, potentially providing some very helpful guidelines for those who struggle with this type of chronic pain.
Here's the deal, my friends: Researchers from the University of Newcastle and Hunter Medical Research Institute in Australia are in cahoots to try a new kind of diet therapy to see whether or not it can improve or relieve migraines, in terms of both intensity and frequency.
According to a news release about the research on the University of Newcastle's website, the researchers plan to explore two different kinds of diets and the impact they might have on people's headaches. One of those regimens is the ketogenic diet, which is best described as a high-fat, low-carb, moderate-protein way of eating.
The other diet the researchers plan to look at is what they call "the Anti-Headache (AH) diet," which specifically excludes foods that they have found to be common migraine triggers.
According to the Physicians Committee For Responsible Medicine, foods like dairy products, citrus, wheat, nuts, and tomatoes can sometimes trigger the onset of a migraine. And, as Dr. Jonathan Cabin, of The Migraine Institute, tells Elite Daily over email, there are some other, more hidden ingredients that can lurk in your foods and trigger migraines, too: Sugary cereals and drinks that contain aspartame, meats and soups that include MSG, and dried fruit or wines that contain sulfites, he says, are all potential culprits that can cause a nasty headache.
Foods that are considered "safe" (as far as headaches go, anyway), Cabin tells Elite Daily, include things like brown rice, cooked green vegetables, cooked orange and yellow vegetables (such as summer squash), non-citrus fruits, and water — lots of water.
"One great food to incorporate for migraines is salmon because of its omega 3 to omega 6 ratio," Jackie Arnett Elnahar, RD, CEO of TelaDietitian, adds, "which helps reduce inflammation associated with migraines, and also has B vitamins that help with calming nerves that can trigger migraines." She also tells Elite Daily that collard greens and kale are healthy, headache-safe veggies to stock up on, as well, thanks to all the magnesium packed inside those bad boys.
"Magnesium is a relaxant to the muscles and has been shown to help prevent the onset of a migraine," Arnett Elnahar tells Elite Daily.
OK, so we've established which foods seem to be good for preventing headaches, and which seem to be more likely to cause them. So what exactly is the deal with this fancy "Anti-Headache Diet"?
Professor Clare Collins, a lead researcher involved in the project, said in a statement for the University of Newcastle's press release,
Drinking an extra 1.5 litres of water, monitoring caffeine intake and eating consistently are recommended ways to avoid or reduce headache or migraine, but food triggers can differ between people.
What we’re keen to explore in this study is whether the Anti-Headache diet is more effective than a Medical Nutrition Therapy approach that tests a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet for reducing the incidence and severity of migraines.
Collins also pointed out that, while migraines are very common and can be debilitating for those who deal with them, it's actually not that common for people to receive nutritional advice when seeking treatment for these issues, given that someone's food sensitivity in relation to their migraines is a super individualized thing, meaning it's hard to prescribe one diet that works for every single person.
While the research comparing the keto diet with the "Anti-Headache Diet" isn't yet fully underway, the University of Newcastle's press release says the researchers are looking for 30 people over the age of 16 who have a regular history of migraines to take part in the study.
Stay tuned, my fellow headache-sufferers. There is hope for us yet!