Health & Wellness

What to Eat to Prevent Migraines

These healthy foods are key to keeping migraines away. Plus, trigger bites that may be responsible for an attack.
What to Eat to Prevent Migraines

Photo credit: Marcos Mesa Sam Wordley/Shutterstock.com

Jill Waldbieser

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Jill Waldbieser,   

Jun 30, 2020 • 4 min read

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Here’s a surprising stat: migraines are more common than asthma or diabetes, affecting 13 percent of the U.S. population. If you suffer from migraines, you’re well aware of the debilitating pain, heightened sensitivity to light and noise, and other symptoms that can often make you feel sick to your stomach. With all this going on, food is probably the last thing on your mind, but in many cases what you’re eating may be part of what triggered your migraine to begin with. Here’s how your diet and migraines are connected, plus what to eat to prevent future attacks from happening.

Foods That Can Cause a Migraine

“[Food] allergies are a trigger for about a quarter of people who get migraines,” says Vincent Martin, MD, director of the Headache and Facial Pain Center at the University of Cincinnati and president of the National Headache Foundation. For example, if you have a gluten allergy and consume gluten you might experience the onset of a migraine in addition to gastrointestinal distress. 

Even for those with no dietary restrictions, certain substances can trigger an attack. Alcohol is a common one, particularly red wine and beer. Migraine sufferers are also sensitive to the flavor additive monosodium glutamate (MSG), which is prevalent in many packaged foods, says Dr. Martin. Some patients show sensitivity to sugar substitutes or to high amounts of the real thing. And while caffeine has been found to provide headache relief, those who suffer from migraines may find that large amounts of it consumed inconsistently (such as having a lot one day and none the next) can be a leading factor in increasing the odds of getting a migraine. Avoiding food triggers can be difficult and time-consuming, but research has found it can make a significant difference, reducing the incidence of migraines by up to almost 40 percent.

The Best Anti-Migraine Foods

In studies of people with headache disorders, placing them on a diet of foods low on the glycemic index (GI)—that is, foods that take longer to be broken down into glucose and don’t raise blood sugar quickly—appeared to decrease the frequency of their headaches, says Dr. Martin. There is also evidence that inflammation at the cellular level may fuel migraines, meaning that eating a diet high in anti-inflammatory nutrients can help reduce the risk of developing a migraine.

The best low GI and anti-inflammatory foods are:

  • Whole grain bread

  • Rolled oats

  • Fruits: Focus on strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries provide for an anti-inflammatory boost

  • Vegetables: Broccoli, peppers, mushrooms, and tomatoes are considered anti-inflammatory, but all veggies are a safe bet

  • Legumes

  • Quinoa

  • Brown rice

  • Milk (including soy or almond)

  • Meat and poultry

  • Seafood: Stock up on salmon for a dose of omega-3, an anti-inflammatory healthy fat

  • Nuts

“In the end, it’s really about eating healthy,” says Dr. Martin. “Take in a modest amount of calories, avoid or minimize high GI foods like starches and breads, skip sweets, and eat lots of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.”

If you’ve been prescribed medication for your migraines, such as diclofenac sodium (generic Flector, Zorvolex and Cambia) or sumatriptan succinate (generic Imitrex), order it through Blink Health to get the lowest price and free shipping straight to your door.

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This article is not medical advice. It is intended for general informational purposes and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your physician or dial 911.

Blink Health is not insurance. The discount prescription drug provider is Blink Health Administration, LLC, 1407 Broadway, Suite 2100, New York, NY 10018, 1 (844) 265-6444, www.blinkhealth.com.

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