A study reported that eating a lot of oily fish and other foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids helps stop headache continuous.
Researchers found that those with persistent headaches felt less pain if they had a diet rich in omega-3s.
The acid is found in foods like salmon, sardines, and nuts.
The study, published in the British Medical Journal, found that participants who ate more omega-3s experienced less severe and shorter headaches.
Researchers from the University of North Carolina said the study shows that “pain can be addressed through targeted dietary modifications.”
The study claims that a healthy diet should include at least two servings of fish per week. Including one oily fish.
The new research involved 182 people, mostly young women, who had migraines between five and 20 days a month.
The women were divided into three groups and followed different diets. The first received an increase in omega-3 fatty acids. While the second had increased omega-3 as well as decreased omega-6 fatty acids.
The third group was a control group and did not change their diet.
Previous research has indicated that omega-3 fatty acids are associated with pain-reducing effects. While omega-6 fatty acids may exacerbate pain.
Omega-6 fatty acids are a type of polyunsaturated fat found in vegetable oils, nuts, and seeds.
During the trial, both groups high in omega-3s experienced a significant reduction in the severity and length of the headaches they experienced. But the group that also reduced their omega-6 intake got the biggest benefits.
A diet high in omega-3s was associated with a 1.3 hour reduction in headaches per day, two days per month.
Meanwhile, the omega-3 plus omega-6 diet group experienced a reduction of 1.7 hours of headache per day and four headache days per month.
Experts said this means that the diet is just as effective as the newly approved headache medications in reducing the number of symptoms.
Participants were provided with combinations of oil, butter and protein foods. Including fish, needed to achieve the goals of fatty acids.
They also completed a diary to record the frequency of headaches and their impact on their quality of life.
“Although the diets did not significantly improve quality of life,” the study authors said. However, it led to a significant and strong reduction in headache frequency and severity compared to the dietary control regimen.”
“This study provides biologically plausible evidence that pain can be addressed through targeted dietary changes in humans,” they added.
They said the findings suggest that omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids play an important role in pain regulation. It opens the door to new approaches to managing chronic pain in humans.
In a related editorial, Dr. Rebecca Burch, of Harvard Medical School, said the findings suggest that doctors should recommend a diet high in omega-3s to patients.
The findings, she said, “take us one step closer to a goal that headache patients and those who care for them have long sought: a migraine diet backed by strong clinical trial results.”
“The new trial suggests that the nutritional intervention could be as similar or better than headache pills,” she added.