Migraine Diet Modifications: What Really Works?

For many people who have migraine, figuring out whether certain foods play a role in their migraine attacks can be a frustrating task.

“There are lots of dietary triggers out there,” says Mark W. Green, MD, the president of the World Headache Society and a professor of neurology, anesthesiology, and rehabilitation medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City. To make matters more complicated, says Dr. Green, “one day they may trigger a headache, and another day they may not.”

Dietary modifications for migraine generally fall into two categories — cutting out foods that play a role in triggering your headaches, and making broad changes to the way you eat in an effort to reduce the frequency or intensity of your headaches. Unfortunately, neither approach is guaranteed to work for any given person.

Diet represents just one area of potential migraine triggers. “In most people, diet isn’t that important,” says Green. “But you should be careful at times when other triggers come into play, like a stressful time.”

Still, by experimenting with some dietary changes and keeping track of potential triggers, you may be able to see some improvement in the frequency or severity of your migraine attacks. Here are the most promising approaches, according to top migraine experts.

Start by Eating Right and Staying Hydrated

A healthful diet and attention not just to what you eat but also when you eat could help reduce migraine attacks.

Anti-inflammatory diet One promising approach for migraine, says Vincent T. Martin, MD, a headache specialist and a professor of clinical internal medicine at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine in Ohio, is an anti-inflammatory diet — which incorporates foods known to reduce inflammation in the body, and avoids foods that encourage inflammation.

In practice, this means a diet that includes a colorful variety of fruits and vegetables — especially green leafy vegetables and berries — and non-farm-raised fish and meats or grass-fed beef as much as possible, and excludes highly processed foods.

Some research has found that foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, in particular, reduce the number of…

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