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Newsletter - How dietary fats influence pain - New evidence


Date: 2021

Dietary changes alone can significantly reduce migraine pain

For the millions of people who suffer from the disabling pain of migraine, the findings of a new clinical trial show dietary changes can reduce this. 

Results showed:

  1. Simply including more fish and seafood - rich in the long-chain omega-3 fats EPA and DHA - significantly reduced both the frequency and severity of headache pain and the number of days lost to migraine headaches.
  2. The benefits were even greater if patients also reduced their intake of vegetable oils, and other foods rich in omega-6 fats, such as meat and dairy products.

These results support earlier clinical trial findings by the same researchers that increasing dietary omega-3 and reducing omega-6 can reduce chronic daily headache pain.  

They are also in keeping with other new evidence confirming that the type and balance of fats found in typical western-type diets increases sensitivity to both pain and inflammation.

This is because Western diets have such a low dietary omega-3 / omega-6 ratio

By contrast, traditional 'Mediterranean-type' diets - well-known for their health benefits - have a higher omega-3 / omega-6 ratio, as they contain fish and seafood (providing omega-3 EPA/DHA, which have anti-inflammatory, pain-reducing effects) and far fewer omega-6 fats than modern western-type diets.

All vegetable oils - and therefore almost all processed foods with any fat – contain the short-chain omega-6 fat, linoleic acid.  So factory-made cakes and desserts, biscuits, ice-creams, crisps and other snacks, fried foods, takeaways, and most 'ready meals', salad dressings and sauces all provide omega-6 fats – which in excess promote both inflammation and pain sensitivity.

Omega-6 fats are also found in all nuts, seeds and whole grains; and in meat and dairy products. Importantly, however, there is no evidence that fresh, unprocessed versions of these foods - in moderation - are a problem.

Instead, the issue is the 'ultra-processed', industrially mass-produced foods that now make up such a large proportion of most modern, western-type diets - especially in the UK and US. 

These foods are strongly implicated in raising risks for obesity and diabetes, heart disease, allergic and immune disorders, and most other chronic diseases.

Their unhealthy fat profile is now also shown to be a major cause of chronic pain. 

See also:

For details of the research study itself - and its clinical implications - see:

And for another new study that confirms the effects of dietary imbalances of omega-3 vs omega-6 fats on pain, see:

And for more information on the links between diet and pain, see:

More FAB News

There is no doubt – as a nation, we’re snacking more, and what once were occasional treats are now consumed on a daily basis. Could a junk food tax be the solution to this problem?

Lab analysis shows several substances known to be important to human health are found either exclusively, or in greater quantities, in beef compared with plant-based meat substitutes.  They included creatine, spermine, anserine, cysteamine, glucosamine, squalene - and the long-chain omega-3 fatty acid DHA (essential for vision and brain health).

A new study in animals shows Methylglyoxal (MG) detoxification deficits can contribute to the development of schizophrenia symptoms. These detoxification deficits are already known to affect a subset of patients with schizophrenia, and in theory Vitamin B6 and/or antioxidant supplementation might help – although this still needs testing.

Better scores in fluid intelligence and working memory were associated with higher organic food intake, and lower fast food intake.

Gut microbes that metabolize tryptophan—an essential amino acid—secrete small molecules called indoles, and these stimulate the development of new brain cells in adults, a new study has shown.

Some of the sweeteners most commonly found in food and drink—including saccharin, sucralose and aspartame—can make normal and 'healthy' gut bacteria become pathogenic, according to new research.

A new study shows that teens who are overweight or obese may be more likely to develop type 2 diabetes or have a heart attack in their 30s and 40s – irrespective of their weight as adults.  


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The FAB Research team