Migraines can be prevented or reduced through various methods and techniques, and it is crucial to find the ones that work best for you. Some common strategies include getting enough rest and sleep, avoiding triggers such as certain foods or stressors, practicing relaxation techniques, exercising regularly, and taking medication as prescribed by your healthcare provider. It may take some trial and error to determine the most practical combination of strategies for your individual needs. Still, with persistence and a proactive approach, headache reduction or prevention can be a realistic goal.
In this article, we will review an overlooked but common trigger for headaches: the balance of omega 3 to omega 6 fatty acids. We’ll review what those essential fats are, how they are implicated in migraine headaches, and the four steps you can take to balance your diet.
What are Essential Fatty Acids like Omega 3s
Omega-3 fatty acids, also known as omega-3s, are polyunsaturated fats that play a vital role in maintaining proper bodily functions. Since our bodies cannot produce sufficient amounts of omega-3s, it is essential to obtain them from the foods we consume.
Omega-3 fatty acids significantly impact the functioning of all cells in our body. They are particularly important for the structural integrity of cell membranes and facilitate communication between cells. Although omega-3s are essential for all cells, they are in higher concentrations in the eyes and brain cells.
Furthermore, omega-3s are a source of energy and support various body systems, such as the cardiovascular and endocrine systems.
What science has to say about the effect Omega 3s has on migraine headaches
Migraine is a condition that affects many people worldwide, causing pain and disability. Even with improved treatment options, patients often suffer despite taking multiple drugs. As a result, we don’t fully understand the underlying biological mechanisms involved in migraine development, making it challenging to find effective ways to prevent and treat it.
Analysis suggests that omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, found in many tissues involved in migraine, may play a role in its development. These fatty acids are essential components of several families of bioactive lipid mediators that regulate pain. Since our bodies can’t produce these fatty acids independently, we can alter their levels and derivatives through our diet.
Research demonstrates that balancing the intake of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids alters an important biomechanism involved with migraine headaches and general head pain. In turn, this also reduced the patient’s report of pain. It reduced the frequency and severity of those with migraine headaches.
To reduce your migraines, here is how to balance your intake of omega-3 and omega-6 oils
Step 1 – Increase your omega-3 fatty acid intake; it’s crucial to increase your omega-3 fatty acids in your diet as they are essential to reduce migraine severity. To achieve this, try to consume cold-water fatty fish, which is a good idea for everyone, especially those who consume diets high in omega-6 fats.
Step 2 – Decrease your “oxidized” omega-6 fatty acid intake; avoid consuming industrial seed oils and opt for more nutritious and flavorful cooking fats like olive oil, coconut oil, ghee, and other pastured animal fats. Fats with higher saturated fatty acid content tend to have higher smoke points, so they are more resistant to oxidization.
Step 3 – Decrease your nut flour; It is also recommended not to consume excessive amounts of nut flour. Although they can be an excellent substitute for wheat flour in baked goods, they’re easy to consume in large quantities. Furthermore, the omega-6 fatty acids present in them have the potential to be oxidized from heating. As an alternative, switch to coconut flour or cassava flour instead.
Step 4 – Highest priority: consume pre-formed EPA and DHA; consuming cold-water fatty fish is an excellent way to achieve this, which is essential for everyone, particularly those with diets high in omega-6 fats.
In summary, research has shown that balancing your intake of omega-3 to omega-6 essential fats can help reduce the intensity and frequency of migraine headaches. There are three supplements above available on Fullscript that can help you get more omega-3s without having to consume fish. It’s important to remember that taking supplements can be a practical solution for those who struggle, but it’s still necessary to reduce your intake of omega-6 fatty acids. Supplementing can be helpful, but it must be combined with a balanced diet.
About the author
Dr. Mark VanOtterloo has been practicing acupuncture since 2012, specializing in patients with chronic pain and disease. He has successfully helped numerous patients with chronic issues by identifying key tests in functional medicine to guide and direct treatment for complex cases. If you are experiencing chronic issues, you can schedule an appointment with Dr. Mark VanOtterloo below.
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