Not too long ago, a meeting I was supposed to attend was canceled because the person in charge had come down with a migraine. He and I had been chatting earlier in the day, and he’d mentioned that he thought he could feel the headache coming on, so he was going to try to stop it. When the email canceling the meeting came through, I knew it had gotten the best of him.
This meeting is far from the only one that’s ever been canceled because of a migraine headache. Some estimates say lost productivity caused by migraines costs upwards of $14 billion. And that doesn’t include the costs of care associated with a migraine. Add healthcare costs, and you’re looking at more than double that.
The truth of the matter is that people who suffer from migraines are easy targets for the pharmaceutical industry in part because of the high cost of the pain. Migraine patients are willing to spend a lot of money in order to get their lives back.
Here’s the secret, though—you don’t have to spend a lot in order to prevent migraines. In fact, you can prevent migraines simply by choosing the right foods and the right nutrients.
Omega-3 fatty acids. These healthy fats do more than just protect your heart. Omega-3s have been shown to help reduce chronic, systemic inflammation—the kind that often contributes to migraine headaches. A study out of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found that increasing omega-3s and decreasing omega-6s reduced the pain and increased the quality of life for migraine patients. Sources of omega-3s include:
- Salmon, tuna, or other wild caught fatty fish
- Organic, cold-pressed olive oil
- Chia seeds
While these are great sources of omega-3, you may not get enough from your diet alone.
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Riboflavin. According to the Stanford School of Medicine, this nutrient, also known as vitamin B2, has been shown to reduce frequency, duration, and intensity of migraines. You need 200–400 mg of riboflavin per day to prevent and ease the pain. Start building toward that amount with these foods:
- Grass-fed, organic beef
CoQ10. This enzyme occurs naturally in your body, but to prevent migraines, you need to make sure you’re getting enough of it. The American Academy of Neurology has listed CoQ10 as an effective way to prevent migraines, especially when combined with vitamin B2. Get your CoQ10 to go with your riboflavin here:
Magnesium. Magnesium is one of the single most important nutrients in the entire body, and migraine prevention is just one reason why. Research indicates that one of the common factors shared by most migraine sufferers is that all of them are at least slightly magnesium deficient. Get plenty of this essential mineral with a combination of these foods:
- Sunflower seeds
- Black beans
Fiber. For many people, migraines are caused by variations in blood sugar. The spikes and crashes can trigger a blinding migraine. So keep your blood sugar levels stable, and your next migraine at bay, by getting plenty of fiber.
Whatever’s important to you—making the meeting or making your child’s concert—you want to be there, not at home suffering from a migraine. These nutrients will help make sure you are.