Can you eat your way out of a migraine?

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

While specific foods can trigger migraines, researchers from the University of Newcastle and HMRI want to trial a new diet therapy and test whether it can help relieve or improve migraines.

The team will explore two dietary interventions: the Ketogenic diet and the Anti-Headache diet.

A Ketogenic diet is a high fat, low-carbohydrate Medical Nutrition Therapy (MNT) grade diet with a low intake of fruits, vegetables, breads and dairy. In contrast the Anti-Headache (AH) diet excludes foods commonly reported to trigger migraines, but emphasises eating more healthily and drinking  more water.  

Migraines are a common neurological disorder which can be debilitating and reduce the quality of life in those affected. Around 15% of the population experience a migraine at some stage in their lives, but people who experience chronic migraine can be impacted adversely for up to 15 days per month.

Diet is commonly reported migraine trigger, with foods such as chocolate, coffee, cheese, citrus fruits and food additives usually reported as provoking a migraine. After a review of research evidence related to food intake and migraine, the team has developed the Anti-Headache diet which focusses on making positive food choices.

“Drinking an extra 1.5 litres of water, monitoring caffeine intake and eating consistently are recommended ways to avoid or reduce headache or migraine, but food triggers can differ between people” says project lead Professor Clare Collins. “What we’re keen to explore in this study is whether the Anti-Headache diet is more effective than a Medical Nutrition Therapy approach that tests a  
high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet for reducing the incidence and severity of migraines.”

“Currently people with migraine do not receive specific dietary advice as part of their treatment, but research indicates that careful evaluation of the impact of diet using a randomised controlled trial is warranted.”

The team is seeking 30 individuals aged 16+ who have a history of regular migraine to participate in this research study. To find out more, email or visit:  

* HMRI is a partnership between the University of Newcastle, Hunter New England Health and the community.
** This research is being conducted by Professor Clare Collins, Professor Neil Spratt, Dr Megan Rollo, Dr Rebecca Williams and Mr Aaron Bezzina.

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