Scientists have recently discovered that eating a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids can help reduce pain for people with migraines. It can also reduce the number of migraines patients have in a month. Omega-3 fatty acids have been found to treat various ailments such as heart disease, inflammation and asthma.
Omega-3 and omega-6 serve different functions
Researchers have also concluded that although increasing the intake of omega-3 fatty acids in your diet helps reduce migraines, reduce omega-6 is just as important.
According to the study authors, most industrialised diets contains a lot of omega-6 and little omega-3. Although both are precursors to oxylipins, which regulate inflammation and pain, they have different effects on the body.
Oxylipins from Omega-3 can reduce pain. However, those from Omega-6 fatty acids are known to increase pain and trigger migraines.
How the study was conducted
In response to this fact, the researchers decided to test if increasing dietary omega-3 will increase hydroxydocosahexaeonic acid (17-HDHA), which is known to lower pain.
Researchers gathered 182 patients who suffered migraines for about 5-20 days in a month. From the sample, 88% were female at an average age of 38.
The participants were split into three groups. Each group had different diet programs for 16 weeks. One group, which acted as the control, was assigned a diet with the typical levels of omega-6 and omega-3. The other groups increased the intake of omega-3, with one lowering omega-6 and the other keeping it constant.
With the headache impact test (HIT-6), the participants monitored their headaches. This test consists of a series of questionnaires that measured how migraines influenced their quality of life.
The results showed that those who had omega-3 rich diets had migraines less frequently. Participants who increased their omega-3 intake and lowered omega-6 had even better success cutting their headaches by 1.7 headache hours in a day. They also had four fewer headaches each month.
The HIT-6 score showed that the dieters did not significantly change their quality of life even though they reported less frequent and severe headaches.
The researchers note that these results might not be seen with everyone if applied in the real world as most of the participants were young women.