Can Diet Influence Migraine Headaches?

A migraine is a headache that can cause severe throbbing pain or a pulsing sensation, usually on one side of the head. It’s often accompanied by other symptoms, such as naura, vomiting and extreme sensitivity to light and sound. 

Migraine attacks can last for hours to days, and the pain can be so severe that it interferes with your daily activities. For some people, a warning symptom known as an aura occurs before or within the headache, this can include things like visual disturbances (flashes of light or blind spots), or other such as tingling in one side of the face or in an arm or leg. 

In the United states alone, over 40 million people have migraine headaches and treatment options are limited, and conventional approaches may not always lead to dramatic improvement. 

What is LIFE Diet? 

Low Inflammatory Foods Everyday (LIFE) diet, is a diet rich in dark green leafy vegetables, a limited amount of whole grains, starchy vegetables, oils, dairy and red meat. This diet has shown in previous studies to decrease C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker of inflammation, over a follow-up period of 6 months. 

Case Report

A recent case report published in the journal BMJ Case Reports describes a case of a 60 years old man who achieved long-term migraine relief and needed less medication by following this type of diet. 

Current therapeutic options for migraine headaches include medication management and avoiding triggers. 

After switching to the LIFE diet, the patient reported a dramatic reduction in the frequency of migraine episodes, down from 18-24 per month to one per month at his 2 month-follow up appointment. 

According to the case report the man has remained migraine-free for 7 years. 

Researchers beleive that the change may stem from carotenoids or beta carotene, which are abundant in dark leafy vegetables. They also believe that the diet may have helped the man identify triggers. 

Carotenoids and beta carotene are compounds that can reduce systemic inflammation and oxidative stress, which are implicated in migraine. 

The 2019 and 2020 investigations into the LIFE diet, which included the same authors, among others, found significantly reduced C-reactive protein (CRP) levels in people who tried the diet.

The higher the level of CRP, the more inflammation in the body, and greater the risk of related diseases, which may be rheumatologic or cardiac, for example.

The authors of the present report found that the man’s CRP levels remained largely stable, which they believe reflect the fact that he had already had a healthy, mostly plant-based diet.

Although dietary and lifestyle changes may help some individuals, not all patients may achieve the same results. It is important that you evaluate your dietary options and lifestyle changes with your physician and other healthcare professionals, so they can ensure that this or other diets its adequate for you. 


Mary McGorray, M.D. (2021, Dec 7). Plant-based LIFE diet could relieve medication-resistant migraine. Medical News Today. Retrieved from:

Perzia BM, Dunaief JL, Dunaief DMChronic migraine reversal and prevention with the LIFE diet: a nutrient dense whole food plant-based diet (WFPBD)BMJ Case Reports CP 2021;14:e243987. 

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