Consuming a Diet with More Fish Fats, Less Vegetable oils Can Reduce Migraine Headaches

Chip Rose wrote . . . . . . . . .

A diet higher in fatty fish helped frequent migraine sufferers reduce their monthly number of headaches and intensity of pain compared to participants on a diet higher in vegetable-based fats and oils, according to a new study. The findings by a team of researchers from the National Institute on Aging (NIA) and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), parts of the National Institutes of Health (NIH); and the University of North Carolina (UNC), Chapel Hill, were published in The BMJ.

The NIH team was led by Chris Ramsden, a clinical investigator in the NIA and NIAAA intramural research programs, and a UNC adjunct faculty member. Ramsden and his team specialize in the study of lipids — fatty acid compounds found in many natural oils — and their role in aging, especially chronic pain and neurodegenerative conditions. The UNC team was led by Doug Mann, M.D., of the Department of Neurology, and Kim Faurot, Ph.D., of the Program on Integrative Medicine.

Migraine, a neurological disease, ranks among the most common causes of chronic pain, lost work time, and lowered quality of life. More than 4 million people worldwide have chronic migraine (at least 15 migraine days per month) and more than 90% of sufferers are unable to work or function normally during an attack, which can last anywhere from four hours to three days. Women between the ages of 18 and 44 are especially prone to migraines, and an estimated 18% of all American women are affected. Current medications for migraine usually offer only partial relief and can have negative side effects including sedation, and the possibility of dependence or addiction.

“This research found intriguing evidence that dietary changes have potential for improving a very debilitating chronic pain condition such as migraine without the related downsides of often prescribed medications,” said Luigi Ferrucci, M.D., Ph.D., scientific director of NIA.

This study of 182 adults with frequent migraines expanded on the team’s previous work on the impact of linoleic acid and chronic pain. Linoleic acid is a polyunsaturated fatty acid commonly derived in the American diet from corn, soybean, and other similar oils, as well as some nuts and seeds. The team’s previous smaller studies explored if linoleic acid inflamed migraine-related pain processing tissues and pathways in the trigeminal nerve, the largest and most complex of the body’s 12 cranial nerves. They found that a diet lower in linoleic acid and higher in levels of omega-3 fatty acids (like those found in fish and shellfish) could soothe this pain pathway inflammation.

In a 16-week dietary intervention, participants were randomly assigned to one of three healthy diet plans. Participants all received meal kits that included fish, vegetables, hummus, salads, and breakfast items. One group received meals that had high levels of fatty fish or oils from fatty fish and lowered linoleic acid. A second group received meals that had high levels of fatty fish and higher linoleic acid. The third group received meals with high linoleic acid and lower levels of fatty fish to mimic average U.S. intakes. Meal plans were designed by Beth MacIntosh, M.P.H., of UNC Healthcare’s Department of Nutrition and Food Services.

During the intervention period, participants monitored their number of migraine days, duration, and intensity, along with how their headaches affected their abilities to function at work, school, and in their social lives, and how often they needed to take pain medications. When the study began, participants averaged more than 16 headache days per month, more than five hours of migraine pain per headache day, and had baseline scores showing a severe impact on quality of life despite using multiple headache medications.

The diet lower in vegetable oil and higher in fatty fish produced between 30% and 40% reductions in total headache hours per day, severe headache hours per day, and overall headache days per month compared to the control group. Blood samples from this group of participants also had lower levels of pain-related lipids. Despite the reduction in headache frequency and pain, these same participants reported only minor improvements in migraine-related overall quality of life compared to other groups in the study.

“Changes in diet could offer some relief for the millions of Americans who suffer from migraine pain,” said Ramsden. “It’s further evidence that the foods we eat can influence pain pathways.”

The researchers noted that these findings serve as validation that diet-based interventions increasing omega-3 fats while reducing linoleic acid sources show better promise for helping people with migraines reduce the number and impact of headache days than fish-oil based supplements, while reducing the need for pain medications. They hope to continue to expand this work to study effects of diet on other chronic pain conditions.

Source: National Institute on Aging

In Pictures: Food of Mandarin Grill + Bar in Central, Hong Kong

Fine Dining European Cuisine

The Michelin 1-star Restaurant

Healthy Living Can Lower Your Odds for Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer’s disease has no cure, but one expert says it may be possible to reduce the risks of developing the disease with healthy lifestyle changes.

There are two different types of Alzheimer’s. Early-onset typically affects patients before age 65. Late-onset affects older adults.

“Early-onset dementia often is linked to genetics and can run in families,” said Dr. Chen Zhao, a neurologist at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. “The cause of late-onset dementia is less clear, and most likely due to a combination of lifestyle, environmental and genetic risk factors.”

Certain lifestyle changes may have benefits for brain health, which may then reduce the risk for dementia.

The strongest evidence is that physical activity, specifically, “aerobic activity, or exercise that gets the heart pumping, can help to maintain brain function,” Zhao said in a medical center news release.

Other changes include following a Mediterranean or plant-based diet and getting better-quality sleep. Maintaining strong social connections and keeping mentally active may also lower your risk, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

Social and mental stimulation strengthens connections between nerve cells in the brain, though why this happens hasn’t been determined.

“Observational studies suggest that lifestyle impacts risk for dementia; making health-conscious lifestyle changes certainly helps to improve general health, well-being, and brain health as well,” Zhao said.

Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia. With the disease, an abnormal protein builds up in the brain and spreads to other parts of the brain over time, Zhao said. Normal brain cells start to die.

This progression can lead to problems that affect one’s day-to-day life, including short-term memory loss, getting lost, spatial and navigation issues, trouble making judgments and eventually trouble speaking or recognizing people.

Early warning signs include trouble remembering the names of old friends, and not feeling as sharp as usual. Later signs include getting lost, repeating the same stories and forgetting to take medications.

Any of these is a good reason to talk to a neurologist or seek a referral from a family doctor.

Source: HealthDay

Thai Curry Noodle Soup

Ingredients

5 dried red chilies
1/4 cup vegetable oil, plus extra for deep-frying
12 oz fresh egg noodles (ba mii or Chinese lo mein)
3 tablespoons Thai red curry paste
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1-3/4 cups thin coconut milk
1 cup chicken stock
2 tablespoons Thai fish sauce
4 chicken thighs, skinned, boned, and chopped
4 scallions, finely chopped
chili oil, 4 shallots, preferably pink Asian, finely sliced, and 3 limes, halved to serve

Method

  1. Soak the dried chilies in water until softened, about 30 minutes, then pound to a paste with a mortar and pestle.
  2. Heat half the oil in small skillet and sauté the paste over low heat until the oil becomes red. Set aside.
  3. Fill a wok one-third full of oil and heat until a piece of noodle will puff up immediately.
  4. Add 4 oz of the noodles and fry until crisp, about 1 minute. Remove and drain on crumpled paper towels. Transfer the oil to another pan to cool.
  5. Heat the remaining oil in the wok and stir-fry the Thai curry paste for 2 minutes.
  6. Add the turmeric and stir-fry for about 30 seconds.
  7. Add the coconut milk and stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
  8. Add the fish sauce and the chicken and simmer for about 5 minutes until cooked through.
  9. Cook the remaining noodles in boiling water, about 1 minute.
  10. Drain and transfer to 4 bowls, spoon over the curry, and top with fried noodles and scallions.
  11. Serve with the reserved chili oil, shallots, and lime halves.

Makes 4 servings.

Source: Noodles and Pasta


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