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Migraine Diet and Nutrition


Essential fatty acids (EFAs) in Diet (Food) for Migraine

There are two essential fatty acids, linolenic and linoleic. These are components of fats which are mainly found in plants but found in very small quantities in meat. Wild meat, also known as game, contains far more EFAsthan domestic animal meat. They are needed to make cell membranes, especially in surfaces which are constantly being worn away and replaced, such as digestive tract linings. The human body cannot make these fatty acids and cell membranes cannot be made from any other type of fats.They are part of the group known as polyunsaturated fats, which includes arachidonic acid (made in the body from linoleic acid) and eicosapentoic acid (from fish). This fish oil has beneficial effects on blood circulation but is not used directly to make cell membranes. It is possible that a deficiency in these essential fatty acids (also known as omega 3 and omega 6 acids) may contribute to inflammation of the digestive tract linings, as they might be unable to secrete protective mucus efficiently.

There are few established recommendations for EFAs. American dietary researchers recommend 6g of EFAs daily, from mixed sources. British authorities suggest between 2-10g daily.

There are no figures available for hemp, evening primrose and borage oils which are reported to have higher linolenic acid levels than other oils, and are much vaunted as dietary supplements for all types of diseases. Rapeseed oil is also known as vegetable oil, it appears low in the list for linolenic acid but has the highest content of linolenic acid of all the common cooking oils. Linolenic acid is also present in useful quantities in green leaves and beans. It appears from this table that eating a mixed diet with plenty of vegetables, especially beans and greens will supply an adequate amount of both essential fatty acids without needing supplementation.

Healthy Diet (Food) and Migraine

To maintain a healthy digestive system it may suffice to add 5-10 ml of vegetable oils as a salad dressing to a green salad and reduce your animal fat consumption by taking low fat milk, game or white meat (or no meat), reducing cheese consumption and choosing 'white' cheeses such as Wensleydale, Caerphilly, Stilton, Lancashire, Cheshire and goats' cheeses as these contain a lot less fat than other varieties.
How to increase EFA's in your diet without increasing calories
. eat salad every day with dressing (lemon and oil)
. eat potatoes and roots instead of pasta cook with vegetable oils, use gentle heat for frying
. use soft vegetable margarine instead of butter
. make cakes with vegetable oils instead of hard margarine
. eat beans in salads, soups and with meals
. eat five portions of vegetables and fruit daily.

In addition, dieticians from the American Heart Association recommend that fat should only represent 30% of your calorie intake. Several books show elaborate schemes of 'calorie exchange' which are quite difficult to follow. By weight fat gives far more calories than starch, so a simpler approach might be to think in terms of a tablespoon (15ml) of fat a day from all sources. This would mean thinking carefully about cakes and pastries, which contain 'hidden fat'. The average pasty contains 50g of fat in the pastry alone! Baking fat is hydrogenated, which converts polyunsaturated fats into saturated fats.
These cannot be used for cell membrane building, and leave you no room for further fat intake from healthier sources.

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