Migraine Prevention: Healthy Fats
Healthy fats are needed for brain function and migraine prevention.
The notion that fat is to blame for heart disease is a myth that has been debunked by numerous studies.
According to a new study published in the prestigious journal JAMA, the sugar industry created the disastrous myth after paying Harvard scientists to blame fat for heart disease (study link).
Seven reasons why healthy fats prevent migraines:
1. “The human brain is nearly 60 percent fat.
We’ve learned in recent years that fatty acids are among the most crucial molecules that determine your brain’s integrity and ability to perform” (study link).
This is not an opinion; it is a fact from a 2009 study.
2. Healthy fats are abundant in the ketogenic diet.
See more on the ketogenic diet and ketones here.
4. Antioxidants fight oxidative stress and migraines.
Eat omega-3 fats.
5. Emerging studies suggest that high-fat diets (from healthy fats) help with neurological diseases such as epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease.
Epilepsy doubles migraine risk (study link).
6. Healthy fats are needed to absorb fat-soluble vitamins, such as vitamin D. A high percentage of migraine sufferers have a vitamin D deficiency (study link).
Vitamin D will also prevent excitotoxicity and oxidative stress—both are associated with migraines (study link).
7. A small study from 2002 found that 23 young chronic migraineurs went from 15 migraines per month down to just two after consuming omega-3 fats from fish oil for two months (study link).
That’s a nearly 90 percent decrease in migraine frequency.
Olive oil was also successful, likely due to an anti-inflammatory effect that is similar to ibuprofen (study link).
The fat myth and why saturated fat is good for migraineurs:
♦ A 2010 review of 21 studies and 347,747 people found that there is no association between saturated fat and the risk of heart disease (study link).
Science was wrong for a long time, as was admitted by Time magazine in a 2014 article titled, “Ending the War on Fat.”
♦ The association between saturated fat and high levels of LDL is weak and in some cases nonexistent.
Populations that eat large amounts of saturated fat from coconuts have low cholesterol and an absence of heart disease (study links).
♦ In a study of more than 100,000 heart attack victims, it was found that cholesterol levels really don’t matter (study link).
Seventy-two percent of heart attack patients who were admitted to a hospital had healthy cholesterol levels and half of the patients had LDL levels lower than 100 mg/dL.
In fact, 54.6 percent of patients had HDL levels below 40 mg/dL.
This suggests that being deficient in LDL and HDL may be a bigger problem than having high levels of cholesterol.
Don’t worry too much about high cholesterol (study link).
♦ Cholesterol is good for you.
The problem is actually low-density lipoprotein (LDL) that carries cholesterol. And it’s only LDL that has a high number of particles that cause the destruction.
LDL particles—the destructive portion of LDL—are not typically measured and this may be why standard LDL cholesterol levels don’t matter much.
Women who suffer from migraines are 39 percent more likely to have a heart attack (study link).
The risk of stroke is 62 percent higher in women who suffer from migraines (study link).
♦ Cholesterol holds cell walls together and prevents excitotoxicity (study link).
The next generation migraine drug (CGRP antibodies) prevents excitotoxicity and successfully reduces migraines (study link).
You need cholesterol.
Types of fats to avoid
Avoid omega-6 fat and increase omega-3 fat.
A 2013 study found that adults with chronic headaches (93 percent with migraines) reduced headache frequency by increasing omega-3 fat and reducing omega-6 fat (study link).
Headache days per month went from 23.3 to 14.5, and headache hours per day went from 10.2 to 5.6.
The mean headache days plummeted all the way to the last day of the 12-week study.
“The western diet contains about 25 times more omega-6 than omega-3 fat”
While omega-6 fat is good for you in small doses, excessive amounts increase inflammation and migraine risk.
A healthy diet consists of no more than one to four times the amount of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids.
Humans evolved with an approximately one-to-one ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fat.
The western diet contains about 25 times more omega-6 fat than omega-3 fat (study link). It’s not healthy.
Omega-6 Fat Makes You Fat
High levels of omega-6 fat and low levels of omega-3 fat contribute to oxidative stress and chronic disease (study link).
Foods with high levels of omega-6 fat make us fat.
For example, vegetable oil is up to 70 percent omega-6 fat and is one of the most fattening and inflammatory substances we eat (USDA data).
Vegetable oil contains no omega-3 fat.
Eat Natural Fats and Reduce Fats from Processed Foods
Migraines are associated with obesity and cardiovascular disease (study link).
According to researchers at Oregon State University, rheumatoid arthritis patients treated with omega-3 fat demonstrate a reduced need for anti-inflammatory medications (research link).
Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory disorder and migraine risk is greatly increased by other inflammatory conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome, fibromyalgia, and Sjögren’s syndrome (study 1, 2, 3).
In addition, three decades of research shows that grass-fed cows contain more antioxidants (study link).
Eat more natural meats and avoid the steroid-pumped, grain-fed meats.
The following fats are the ones to eat:
♦ Grass-fed butter contains medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) that will immediately convert to ketones (study link). Grass-fed butter also contains omega-3 fats and butyrate. Butyrate is a strong anti-inflammatory that supports digestion (study 1, 2, 3, 4, 5). Improving the gut will decrease the risk of migraines (article link).
♦ MCT oil is the richest source of MCTs and can be consumed with most foods or shakes. MCT oil on top of a standard diet has been found to cause fat loss (study link). It also increases the memory retention of patients with Alzheimer’s (study link). MCT oil is one of the best supplements a migraine sufferer can take (Ketones article).
♦ Olive oil has less ketones than MCT oil or grass-fed butter, but still has antioxidant properties that will benefit migraines when used in moderation (study 1, 2). Use olive oil instead of vegetable oil.
The ketogenic diet contains up to 90 percent fat and successfully treats migraines. Eat healthy fats.