Unhealthy Dietary Habits Linked to Increased Migraine Severity, Study Finds

by Ella

Migraine, a complex neurological condition affecting millions worldwide, continues to pose challenges for medical researchers. With a global prevalence of 14%, and notably higher rates in certain regions such as Egypt, where it stands at 17.3% annually, understanding the factors influencing migraine severity remains a priority.

The relationship between dietary habits and migraine intensity has long intrigued scientists. While the precise mechanisms governing migraine onset remain elusive, evidence suggests that gastrointestinal disorders may play a significant role.


A recent study delved into the dietary patterns of individuals with migraine, aiming to discern potential associations between food consumption and migraine severity. The research, conducted between January to June 2020, involved 124 adult migraine sufferers. Exclusions were made for pregnant women, individuals with memory issues, medication overuse, other neurological conditions, and those with coexisting tension-type headaches.


Using the Migraine Disability Assessment Scale (MIDAS), researchers assessed the severity of migraines and analyzed dietary habits to identify potential triggers. Findings revealed several noteworthy correlations between specific food items and migraine characteristics.


Among the identified dietary triggers were fava beans, falafel, ice cream, processed meats, citrus fruits, chocolates, and aged cheese. Notably, foods high in omega-6 fatty acids, such as processed meats and hydrogenated ghee, were associated with chronic migraine. Similarly, hydrogenated ghee, pickles, and smoked herring showed significant associations with aura symptoms.


Further analysis indicated that certain foods, including eggs, nuts, skimmed cheese, and yogurt, were linked to episodic migraine and chronic migraine, potentially due to food intolerances or allergic reactions triggering immune responses.

The study also highlighted the impact of beverages, with excessive consumption of soft drinks, chocolate, tea, and coffee correlating with increased frequency, severity, and duration of migraines. Additionally, foods rich in biogenic amines, such as tyramine, histamine, putrescine, and cadaverine, were found to exacerbate migraine symptoms, possibly through immune system activation and subsequent brain-gut interactions.

Participants who regularly consumed refrigerator-stored foods displayed a higher prevalence of chronic migraine, suggesting a possible link to the accumulation of biogenic amines. Similarly, increased intake of smoked herring was associated with chronic migraine, potentially due to carcinogenic compounds present in the food.

In conclusion, the study underscored the significance of dietary habits in migraine management, particularly in chronic cases. Unhealthy eating patterns, including the consumption of tea, coffee, soft drinks, processed meats, and various other foods, were found to be strongly associated with migraine severity. These findings provide valuable insights into potential dietary interventions for migraine sufferers and emphasize the importance of further research in this field.



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