Eat fish against migraines! Here is the advice that emerges thanks to the results of a very recent scientific research published a few months ago in the prestigious British Medical Journal by an American team from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Ramsden et al, BMJ, 2021).
The problem of migraines
Migraines are one of the most common disabling conditions today. Despite the fact that medicines have become increasingly effective, the consequences of migraines continue to affect the lives of those who suffer from them, with painful, frequent attacks lasting from a few hours to even a few days. Not to mention the side effects of the medicines commonly taken for migraine, such as sedative action but also addiction. Precisely for this reason, American researchers have wondered if the diet can somehow counteract this condition, reducing pain and the frequency of migraine attacks.
The omega 3s in fish reduce migraines, here's the experiment
182 people with frequent migraine attacks, which could affect from 5 to 20 days a month, were recruited. The study participants were divided into three groups. The first group was asked to follow, for 4 months, a diet rich in omega 3 fatty acids deriving from fish, about 1.5 grams of omega 3 of the EPA and DHA type per day. The amount of linoleic acid, of the omega 6 type and mainly contained in corn, sunflower, safflower and hemp, was kept constant with respect to the amount taken before the experiment. The second group followed a diet rich in omega 3 fatty acids derived from fish, about 1.5 grams per day, but significantly reduced the intake of linoleic acid. Finally, the third group kept the supply of linoleic acid constant compared to the amount taken before the experiment and included in the diet a very small amount of omega 3 derived from fish, less than 150 mg per day. During all the duration of the experiment, 4 months, the volunteers had to keep a diary in which the duration and frequency of the attacks and the degree of pain were reported. Finally, the volunteers were also subjected to blood tests to assess the presence of substances released following the sensation of pain. What emerged was that the two groups that included more omega-3 fatty acids in their diets showed significant improvements in headache attacks. In fact, a 30-40% reduction in the duration of a single migraine attack was observed, but also a lower intensity of pain and in general fewer days per month affected by migraines. Not only that, the blood samples of the volunteers belonging to these two groups showed a reduction in the substances released in case of pain.
Here is how small changes to the diet, by increasing the sources of omega 3 fatty acids with anti-inflammatory action, can lead to significant improvements in the case of conditions that could be disabling, such as migraines. And that's without the side effects of drugs. The main sources of omega 3 EPA and DHA are, as mentioned, fish, such as sardines, salmon, tuna, shrimp, mackerel and cod.