Migraine Prevention: Antioxidants from Natural Foods
Antioxidants fight oxidative stress and migraines. Reduce processed foods and eat more natural foods.
Vegetables Vs. Supplements
Fruits and vegetables have been found to increase antioxidants more than the supplement form of antioxidants (study link).
This may be why vitamins have been unsuccessful at preventing the oxidative stress associated with heart disease, but fruit and vegetable consumption have been found to decrease the risk of heart disease in numerous studies (study 1, 2, 3).
Why don’t antioxidant supplements kill all types of oxidative stress?
The antioxidant process is complex and requires numerous nutrients.
There are hundreds of antioxidants and they are not interchangeable.
Eating a doughnut with vitamin C sprinkled on top will not increase the antioxidants in your blood.
The sugar and inflammatory fat will likely increase oxidative stress in your body.
Similarly, vitamin C supplements will only raise one antioxidant, but multiple antioxidants and nutrients are required to raise antioxidant levels in the blood (Harvard link).
A large problem is that consuming a vitamin doesn’t mean the vitamin will get where you need it. For one, migraineurs are more likely to have gut problems that reduce digestion.
Once successfully ingested, that small amount of antioxidants will need to make its way to every place there is oxidative stress in the body.
Glutathione is the Answer, and it’s Complicated
There is an antioxidant that can be released throughout the entire body called glutathione.
Your body requires numerous nutrients to form glutathione before it is released. This is one example of how natural foods can be more important for increasing antioxidant levels in the blood than single antioxidants in food.
Antioxidants on the Label do not Equal Antioxidants in the Body
Supplements do not contain all the nutrients required for fighting oxidative stress. Fruits and vegetables contain numerous minerals, vitamins, and nutrients that will prevent oxidative stress and migraines.
The entire point of an antioxidant is to attack oxidants and reduce oxidative stress. Inflammatory foods such as sugar, refined grains, omega-6 fat, and many other processed foods raise inflammation levels.
Not only is inflammation associated with migraines, it raises oxidative stress—the largest migraine trigger (study link).
So even if a sugary box of cereal says it has antioxidants, it is more likely to cause inflammation and oxidative stress.
If Your Food has an Inflammatory Diet, so do You
We need to eat less processed foods. This goes for the food we raise as well.
Eating grain-fed meat will raise oxidative stress and the probability of migraines.
In addition, three decades of research shows that grass-fed cows contain more antioxidants (study link).
We should be eating more grass-fed meat and less grain-fed meat.
We Simply Need to Eat More Natural Foods
In a review of over 300 peer-reviewed studies, it was found that organic crops contained 18–69 percent more antioxidants and lower levels of poison (study link).
Reducing processed foods that cause oxidative stress is just as important as eating foods with antioxidants.
There are two steps to increasing antioxidants in the blood:
- Eat organic fruits, vegetables, and grass-fed, pasture-raised, organic, or wild-caught meat.
- Reduce processed foods that increase oxidative stress and deplete the antioxidants in your blood.
Eating more natural foods and less processed foods will reduce oxidative stress—the largest migraine trigger.