For people affected, migraine is a nightmare. 10 to 15% of all adults are afflicted by a migraine attack at least once a year. In women, the phenomenon appears more often than in men. There are two main forms: Headache attacks without any sign and – in up to a third of those affected – those with an aura as a harbinger. In this case, symptoms such as impaired vision and speech or tingling or dizziness signal the approaching migraine about 30-60 minutes beforehand. More than 90% of these people are unable to work or go about their daily lives during a migraine onset that can last between four hours up to three days.
What are the symptoms of migraine?
Migraine is a neurological disease that is one of the most common causes of chronic pain, absenteeism from work and a reduced quality of life. In migraine, our brain reacts particularly sensitive. It is not uncommon for the throbbing and pounding headaches to escalate to extremes, tearing at our state of health. Additional accompanying symptoms of a migraine can be feeling of sickness, nausea or vomiting. Many sufferers also complain of great sensitivity to noise and light and therefore prefer darkened rooms during a migraine attack.
What triggers a migraine?
The causes that trigger migraine have not yet been clarified in detail. However, it is certain that there is a genetic predisposition to migraine. Furthermore, stress, hormonal fluctuations and diet are mentioned as triggers. An attack can also be triggered by a change in the sleep rhythm, i.e. too much or too little sleep.
A causal treatment and thus a cure for migraine is not yet possible today because of the many triggers. In addition, the exact mechanisms of its development have not yet been sufficiently clarified. However, changes in lifestyle and dietary behavior can keep migraine attacks at bay, so that they are less severe and do not occur as frequently.
Those affected should therefore pay attention to a regular daily routine. This applies to both eating and sleeping. Relaxation techniques such as Jacobsen’s Progressive Muscle Relaxation and sporting activities have also proved effective in coping with stress in everyday life.
What to eat with migraine?
Many sufferers are sensitive to foods that contain high levels of tyramine and histamine. Histamine is formed by fermentation processes from the amino acid histidine and tyramine from the amino acid tyrosine. Especially chocolate, well-ripened cheese, salami but also sauerkraut, canned fish and citrus fruits contain either tyramine or histamine. In addition, caffeine, certain proteins in dairy products, preservatives in convenience foods, or the flavor enhancer glutamate can also be linked to migraine attacks. The biogenic amines (tyramine, histamine and glutamine) are apparently trigger factors that promote the development of migraine. In combination with alcoholic beverages such as red wine, sparkling wine or beer, the effect of these biogenic amines is additionally intensified.
In order to prevent migraine attacks by nutrition, it is also primarily a matter of compensating for a lack of energy in the brain. A balanced diet with healthy fats, complex carbohydrates and sufficient proteins is therefore recommended. It is also important to eat regularly and not to skip a meal.
More sea fish and green vegetables
Studies have shown that a good supply of magnesium and omega-3 fatty acids is particularly beneficial, as these substances can have a positive effect on migraine. While magnesium is involved in all energy-generating enzyme reactions in the body and also plays an important role in the transmission of stimuli between muscles and nerves, omega-3 fatty acids inhibit inflammatory reactions, among other things.
In a study involving a total of 182 adults who suffered from frequent migraine attacks, the effectiveness of omega-3 fatty acids in connection with migraine was confirmed. The subjects were divided into three groups and received nutrition plans over a period of 16 weeks, which differed in the fact that one group of subjects received a high proportion of fatty fish and a low proportion of linoleic acid (omega-6 fatty acid). The second group, on the other hand, received meals that contained a high proportion of fatty fish and also a high proportion of linoleic acid. The third group received meals containing a high proportion of linoleic acid and a low proportion of omega-3 fatty acids.
At the beginning of the study, the participating subjects had an average of more than 16 headache days per month and more than five hours of migraine pain per headache day. In addition, they had initial values that showed severe impairment in quality of life despite taking multiple headache medications.
Evaluation of the study showed that the group of subjects with a high proportion of fatty fish and low linoleic acid content tended to reduce total headache days per month by 30 to 40 percent compared to the control groups.
Suitable foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids include fish as well as linseed, walnut and rapeseed oils. Abundant magnesium is found in nuts, legumes, green vegetables or cereal germs.
Metabolic Balance and Migraine
The dietary change according to Metabolic Balance in connection with migraine has often proved positive for sufferers in the past. This is because the nutritional concept brings about a metabolic change through the individual combination of foods and, through its rules, brings clear order back into the eating behavior of those affected, which, according to the results of a study, can have an extremely positive effect on their general well-being.
The advantages of the Metabolic Balance nutritional concept for migraine patients are obvious: A nutrition according to Metabolic Balance produces fewer stress hormones, the participants become more balanced and relaxed, which leads to a significant reduction in pain attacks.
In addition, the overall hormonal balance is improved, from which women with a menstrual migraine benefit in particular.
Histamine intolerance, a known trigger for migraine, can also be improved by a nutrition according to Metabolic Balance. The special selection of foods can correct any possible bacterial dyscolonization of the intestine by strengthening bacterial strains, such as Bifidobacterium infantis or Bifidobacterium longum, which are said to have a histamine-lowering effect.
In addition, the nutritional concept brings a clear regularity and order back into eating behavior and life by recommending three meals a day with at least a five-hour break in between. Thanks to the new, clear rhythm in their lives, the participants unanimously feel more balanced and resilient.
Christopher E Ramsden, Daisy Zamora, Keturah R Faurot, Beth MacIntosh, Mark Horowitz et al.: Dietary alteration of n-3 and n-6 fatty acids for headache reduction in adults with migraine: randomized controlled trial, in BMJ (veröffentlicht 01.07.2021), BMJ
NIH/National Institute on Aging: Consuming a diet with more fish fats, less vegetable oils can reduce migraine headaches (veröffentlicht 30.06.2021), NIH/National Institute on Aging