Anti-Inflammatory Diet

All health care starts with diet. My recommendations for a healthy diet are here:
Anti-Inflammatory Diet and Lifestyle.
There are over 190 articles on diet, inflammation and disease on this blog
(find topics using search [upper left] or index [lower right]), and
more articles by Prof. Ayers on Suite101 .

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Migraine Headache Diet

Simple Guidelines to Lower Chronic Inflammation and Avoid Pain

If I stick to this Anti-Inflammatory Diet and Lifestyle, I don’t get migraine headaches any more. I can still get a migraine, if I let myself get very dehydrated or drift into carbohydrate excess, but I am shocked when it happens. I can still enjoy chocolate and coffee. Avoiding the headaches is under my control and the diet is healthy and easy to follow.

Chronic Inflammation Is the Foundation for Migraine Headaches

The details and rationale for the Basic Anti-inflammatory Diet and Lifestyle are discussed in many articles on this blog. The guiding logic is that migraine headaches are based on chronic inflammation, although in each individual case there may be specific health problems that contribute and trigger migraines. If the chronic inflammation is removed, then migraines can’t happen or are reduced in frequency and/or severity.

Common Migraine Guidelines Point to Inflammation as the Problem

Feverfew is present on all of the lists of traditional treatments to avoid migraines. Extracts of feverfew contain parthenolide, a sesquiterpene lactone, that has been shown in mouse studies to inhibit activation of NFkB, the inflammation transcription factor. Stress reduction, acupuncture, etc. all point to vagal stimulation to reduce chronic inflammation. I would also recommend that migraine sufferers investigate vagal stimulation exercises to augment the basic diet and exercise to eliminate chronic inflammation.

Anti-inflammatory Diet in a Nutshell

  1. Vitamin D -- deficiency is common... even with adequate sun exposure
  2. Low carbs -- starch is hyperglycemic, grain gluten intolerance is very common
  3. Vegetable oils -- only olive oil is safe (trans fats are dangerous), butter is better
  4. Fish oil -- omega-3 oils can reduce chronic inflammation
  5. High fructose corn syrup -- eliminate all sources
  6. Saturated Fats -- safer than polyunsaturated fats, major source of calories

Typical Meals for a Healthy Head

  • Breakfast -- eggs, bacon, sausage, stewed tomatoes, cottage cheese, coffee, yogurt (low sugar, no HFCS) (avoid cereal, pancakes, waffles, toast, etc.)
example: scrambled eggs with sausage, yogurt (unsweetened, blended with fresh raspberries, strawberries or blueberries, sweetened with honey) coffee mocha
  • Lunch -- soup, salad, chicken, ham, tuna, vegetables, modest amounts of fruit, etc. (avoid bread, buns, potatoes, pasta, rice), keep the carbs to less than 50 grams
example: homemade chili with extra ham; thin sliver of toast loaded with feta cheese, broiled and drizzled with extra virgin olive oil; salad with peppers, tomatoes and cubes of jalapeno cheese, olive oil/vinegar, herbs/spices
  • Dinner -- fish, meat, vegetables, 50 grams of carbs (avoid grains)
example: broiled salmon with crushed pinenuts, garlic, butter and lemon; sauteed sliced zucchini/miniature squashes; wedges of small potatoes, microwaved ‘till soft and fried in light olive oil and butter; strawberries painted with melted dark chocolate

Why Conventional Diet Wisdom Gives You a Headache

The government food pyramid was designed by the food industry and was never supported by evidence from the biomedical literature. Research shows that saturated fats actually lower heart disease. Polyunsaturated fats in common vegetable oils are a major source of chronic diet-based inflammation. Starch/sugar raises triglycerides, not dietary fats. Grains are a major source of inflammation, because of the high incidence of gluten intolerance, the high content of hyperglycemic starch (even in whole grain breads, etc.) and in the support of gut biofilms based on Klebsiella, a contributor to Crohn’s and other autoimmune diseases. Blood lipid levels were not associated with heart disease and lowering these levels with statins does not improve health. Lowering inflammation uniformly improves health, as well as eliminating migraines.


prophets said...

what about oats/oatmeal? surely all grains can't be the 'devil' ?

gluten/wheat is one thing, but other grains seem healthful (quinoa, barley, etc.)

Dr. Art Ayers said...

I don't mean to demonize grains and I wouldn't besmirch their names, if they would play nice in the gut. But they don't. Starch would be OK, if it didn't raise the blood sugar so quickly. Al dente pasta, for example, more slowly releases its glucose and is easier to take. High blood sugar leads to high insulin and also to advanced glycation end products and inflammation. So, you can't take very much starch at one time without paying the price in higher inflammation.

It is also starting to look like starch, with its odd branches, provides the special food for Klebsiella in gut biofilms. It appears that the Klebsiella bacteria make the hydrogen that is used by the stomach pathogen Helicobacter pylori. Feeding pathogenic gut biofilms is not good.

The big problem with wheat and other grains containing gliadin/gluten, is the complex celiac response of gluten intolerance, that leads to many autoimmune diseases.

For most people, eating wheat and starchy grains is unhealthy. They are better off getting more of their calories from fat.

Thanks for your comments, I always enjoy them.

epistemocrat said...

Great, Dr. Ayers,

I cured my migraines (and sinus infections) by switching to an ancestral (low-carb, hyperlipid) diet.

It was self-experimentation, and I have not had either for over two years.

My n=1 supports your experience.

The pain is gone.



Aaron Blaisdell said...

I "cured" my EPP (Erythropoeitic protoporphyria) by switching to an ancestral diet by which I eliminated grains and industrial oils, and increased my consumption of whole-fat yogurt and kefir (no sugar added--I love the sour taste now), raw-milk cheese, meats, eggs, seafood, vegetables, minimal fruit (mostly berries), high-vitamin cod liver oil and butter oil (a la Weston Price), and cooking with coconut oil, bacon fat, beef tallow (saved from my own beef stock), and ghee. I still eat potatoes on a regular basis, but don't go overboard on them.

EPP causes a photosensitivity, which throughout my whole life has limited the amount of sun exposure I can tolerate. It used to be the case that even 15 minutes of direct exposure to sunlight could trigger a reaction (burning in the exposed skin accompanied by swelling (i.e., inflammation!)). Now I can remain in the sun for over an hour and not get any symptoms of a reaction whatsoever! I think this is powerful evidence that inflammation induced by my prior poor diet (SAD) was the major contributing factor to my reactions. So, from my reading on all of these (primal, paleo, ancestral, evolutionary) diet and lifestyle blogs I can glean that systemic inflammation produced by SAD diet is likely at the root of migraines, gum disease, osteoperosis, diabetes, CAD and stroke, cancer, autoimmune diseases (e.g., EPP), and probably many psychopathologies and developmental disorders (e.g., ADHD) name just a few.

William Trumbower said...

Art Excellent post. Dr. Mike Eades suggested the book The Brain Trust Program by Dr. Larry McCleary to reduce migraines, hot flashes,etc. The book strongly recommends an anti-inflamatory diet like yours as well as supplements. I think cooked oats (properly prepared by soaking as described by the Weston Price group) are fine, unless you are trying to lose weight or treat an inflamatory disorder. Most of the patients that I encourage to go on such a diet (everyone) are not healthy enough to eat many carbs in their diet at all.

Kyle Schneider said...

Hi Art,

Off topic comment: I’m adding Vitamin D drops to my regimen (2000 IU per drop)….heard they absorb better when ingested w/ some fat. What do you recommend I take it with to maximize my body’s absorption? Currently I’ve been putting 2 drops in a tsp of fish oil and swallowing. Let me know your thoughts, and thanks again for everything! Blog is great.



epistemocrat said...

Hi Kyle,

I take about 2000 IU of Vit. D with Fish Oil and with Coconut Oil: a dynamic trio.

Seems to work well thus far, on many fronts.



Tanya said...

Discusses a study where dark chocolate consumed in moderation (1 oz 2-3 times a week) reflected lower CRP levels hence lower inflammation. Gives credence to continuing to eat chocolate and an amount as well.

Dr. B G said...


I always knew you were a vampire. Don't tell the Twilight fans in your classes...



Dr. B G said...

Dr. Ayers,

I have seen the same approach work in the migraineurs I work with.

Keep up the wonderful work and congratulations on curing a very painful disabilin chronic condition!


Anonymous said...

I feel uneasy about using a microwave oven for heating food. Am I being overcautious, or does microwaving diminish nutrients more than conventional heating?

Dr. Art Ayers said...

I think that you are being overcautious.
Microwave radiation is lower energy than standing in the sun. If you are going to object to microwaves, then I think that you should certainly avoid high energy environments such as frying, grilling or baking foods. Any kind of browning, to me, is more hazardous than microwaving, because of the production of glycation end products and probably caramelization products.

My opinion is that there is too much focus on environmental toxins and not enough focus on everyday eating hazards, such as vegetable oils, starch and gluten.

Thanks for the comment.

Melchior Meijer said...


I'm curious about your stance on alcohol. As everybody knows moderate drinking is associated with a broad spectrum of health benefits, but some of my personal observations contradict this. I have seen people who got rid of persistent health problems after giving up their one or two glasses of wine per day.

Is it possible that the ability to get rid of (the highly inflammatory) acetaldehyde differs also among caucasiens? I mean, would some people build up toxic levels over time?

sophie said...

Hi Dr Ayers

Lovely blog, very informative posts.

I was wondering about how dairy (full-fat) fits into the anti-inflammatory diet. Cow milk proteins seem to get linked to autoimmune disorders a fair bit - I'm not familiar with the research but buzzwords like casein and betacellulin spring to mind. Any evidence that these can have pro-inflammatory effects in the gut or elsewhere?

Presumably, though, fermented dairy (yogurt, cheese, sour cream) would be preferable to non-fermented, in terms of maintaining a healthy gut flora?


Dr. Art Ayers said...

Alcohol and dairy:

I have not worried much about alcohol or dairy. There doesn't seem to be much reason to include or exclude either. A healthy body should be able to handle them. There will be rare individuals who have a problem and chronic inflammation can lower tolerance for a wide variety of common foods. For most people one drink of alcohol seems to be ok. Dairy should be an excellent food. Of course, if you give cow's milk to a newborn who still has an open gut, you will have problems. And there are proteins in milks of all types than can become immunogenic in individuals with chronic inflammation. It is even possible to use formula to make a baby become chronically inflamed and allergic to its own mother's milk.

teguhiw said...

What about acupuncture? Is this method effective to treat migrain?

Dr. Art Ayers said...

I think that acupuncture could help, but it its my feeling that it would be more effective if overall inflammation was lowered. That means, remove dietary contributions to inflammation, practice vagal relaxation and use acupuncture if you like.

I see migraines as symptoms of chronic inflammation, similar to developing allergies or general depression or lower back pain. They can all be treated with diet (avoiding the US gov't food pyramid.)

Willow said...

Thank you for your blog. It's good to see your information about oils and fats. I'll make sure I stick to olive oil from now on. I gave up margarine years ago and found unsalted butter is best for me.

With regard to migraines: for me it became clear that eating salty food was the main cause of my migraines, though I do also get them if I go too long without food.

Clearly many people can cope with salt, but I've found that I am very sensitive indeed to salt. So I'd like to suggest that cutting down on salt intake might lead to other people experiencing fewer migraines as well, along with the many other health benefits of salt reduction.

You may agree with me, Dr Ayers, that salt sensitive people get inflammation problems if they eat salty food.

Dr. Art Ayers said...

Salt is not simple. I would suspect that your salt intake may produce dehydration and the migraines could be avoided simply by drinking more water when you eat salty foods.

Salts have also been linked to gut biofilms. Increased salt is hard on biofilms. Consequently, the headaches could result from a response to the release of endotoxin from damaged gut biofilms. I would not be surprised if salty foods didn't precipitate acne, depression, joint aches and pains, or other symptoms of chronic inflammation.

Thanks for your comments.

Tanya said...

So what is a person to do to combat the symptoms from the endotoxins? Is this a 'feel worse before you feel better' kind of thing and one must accept it as part of the process, or can it be offset by something else?

Dr. Art Ayers said...

The point about endotoxins (bacterial wall fragments) is that they should only be a problem during an infection, because they trigger inflammation via the toll-like receptors, TLRs. The subject here is intimate endotoxin release during hypothetical disruption of pathogentic gut biofilms after ingesting lots of salt.

The anti-inflammation diet (AID) and lifestyle that I recommend, should minimize gut biofilms. I speculate that high salt intake that triggers migraines may be symptomatic of a gut compromised by pathogenic biofilms. Salt poisons the biofilms, releases endotoxin that triggers the blood pressure shifts in the brain that lead to migraines. The AID should also lower the response to endotoxins.

Richard said...

Dr, Ayers,

You've mentioned that 50g of carbs per meal is the most you'd want to go, what about protein? Would you recommend a maximum amount of protein in a meal since I've heard that it also produces an insulin response? Also, in general, do you think there would be a maximum # of calories you might want to eat in a meal to minimize inflammation (I'm asking because I just ate a huge breakfast of eggs, bacon, cream and coffee, and it clocked in at 100kcal...more than I'd realized).

Richard said...

Regarding last post:

Sorry, that should have read 1000kcal.



Cristian said...

Better stockpile vitamin D3 pills, the winter is coming :-)

Vitamin D deficiency: the invisible accomplice of metabolic endotoxemia?

"We propose a hypothetical model linking metabolic endotoxaemia with vitamin D deficiency in obesity. A therapeutic approach involving the use of probiotics and vitamin D metabolites in the obese is described."

Dr. Art Ayers said...

That is a fascinating article on ties between obesity, vitamin D and endotoxemia, which is a new phenomenon to me. Transient endotoxemia may explain marathoner's inflammation. And what is the source of the circulating LPS? Leaky gut? Bruised biofilms/cryptic bacteria? Very provocative stuff.

Mistica said...

Hi Dr Ayers,

I wondered if you are familiar with the 'hole in the heart' theory as a possible cause of migraines?

My half sister, suffers debilitating migraines and over the years has undertaken just about every therapy, conventional and otherwise that is available. This includes low carb diet free of refined sugars, accupunture, naturopathy, in addition to some treatments bordering on quackery.
She takes potent pain killers designed for migraine sufferers.

Some years ago, she was asked if she would like to participate in a trial taking place in London.
It was explained to her that it had been discovered that many migraine sufferers had a tiny hole in their hearts and the abnormal blood flow was causing migraines. The aim of the trial was to repair this. All in the group would receive a general anaesthetic, but upon waking they wouldn't know if they had undergone the procedure or not.
(A bruise was created in the groin area).
After examinations determined she did indeed have a tiny hole in the heart, she signed up for the trial.
She failed to improve, while some others did, making her feel she had not had the procedure. She was right. Months later, after results had been analysed and the procedure deemed a success, she had hers.
It was a complete failure in her case.

What is your opinion of this theory?
How does this tie in with chronic inflammation?
Also, seeing my sister has now failed every modality of treament offered to her, what other reasons, including dietary do you suppose might be causing her debilitating condition?
Lack of vitamin D springs to mind seeing she spends much of her life in darkness. I have noted she perks up while in Spain enjoying a few weeks of sunshine.
By the way, she does not suffer from rosacea.


Dr. Art Ayers said...

I am baffled by the cardiology. I don't know enough about the ins and outs of heart pumping to see any point to repairing small leaks between chambers of the heart. The closest I could come would be to try to explain the origin of the hole as a connective tissue defect related to chronic inflammation -- along the lines of inflammation-based back aches.

As I indicated in the article, I would increase vitD3 and omega-3 fish oil until the migraines subsided. In a week or two, I would have an idea if chronic inflammation was a problem. Hb1Ac and CRP, if high would show blood sugar or other sources of inflammation.

Fasting and vagal exercises may also be helpful.

Thanks for the comments.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Ayers, this post is very helpful and so is your blog. What yogurt bacteria do you advise? Is homogenized dairy to be avoided? Also, I am curious how you regard the amylopectin in chocolate and if that can cause discomfort and feed bad bacteria in an already inflamed gut situation? Thanks.

Dr. Art Ayers said...

I don't think that it matters much which of the natural fermenting bacteria are present in yogurt and I that the amylopectin in chocolate is no big deal. I think that chocolate is great and it has been found to have beneficial effects. Milk chocolate lacks those benefits for some unknown reason. So enjoy semi-sweet chocolate in almost moderate amounts.

Thanks for your comments.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Ayers, Thanks for your answers. That is all very good to know! I find high amylopectin food to be helpful, actually. I am unsure if certain bacteria strains cause my to flare or if homogenized dairy does something strange to the casein that could be involved in a reaction, so I try to avoid the homogenized but I do not avoid the strains the SCD diet advises you should, out of convenience and availability, and so far I am able to handle good yogurt again, finally without pain. Thanks again for your informative blog. -David

Anonymous said...

Mistica and Dr. A:

here is a plausible mechanism by which a PFO 'hole in the heart' might increase the frequency of migraines: hypoxia. In some cases, PFO reduces the efficiency of the heart, and significant amounts of blue desaturated blood mixes with bright red oxygenated blood on the way to the brain.

Hypoxia results in significant oxidative stress and inflammation. The blood vessel linings are very sensitive to this type of stressor.

Yogis show very low levels of oxidative stress due in part to diet, but abdominal breathing is a huge factor. Training athletes in abdominal breathing has been shown to reduce post-exercise oxidative stress.

Another related phenomenon that can feed into neurovascular headache: apnea. Between 50% and 80% of people with cluster headache have sleep apnea ... this may or may not improve with weight loss or CPAP, as the mechanism may be central (brain glitch and neurotransmitter problems) instead of a simple physical obstruction.

Jonathan Byron

Dr. Art Ayers said...

Jonathan Byron,
I can understand how hypoxia might contribute to migraine, but I still don't understand how a hole in the heart can contribute to hypoxia. It seems to me that all of your examples indicate that the brain sensing system for hypoxia may be inadequate to prevent oxidative stress from hypoxia and by compensatory breathing, the stress may be abolished.

How can a hole in the heart bypass the oxygen saturation sensing system to produce hypoxia without just triggering increased breathing? Does the hole just permit a dilution of 100% oxygenated with enough 0% oxygenated to give a perpetual reduction, e.g. 95% oxygenated, and that produces the symptoms? And this reduction is insufficient to trigger increased breathing and appropriate compensating angiogenesis?

I guess I am lacking some essential understanding of physiology and don't grasp the triggering biochem.

Thank you for the provocative ideas.

Anonymous said...

Dr. A,

like you, I am more oriented to the molecular scale than the anatomical. I don't fully understand it, but it seems to be a recognized effect of some cases of PFO.

For example:

According to this, the PFO condition is normally intermittent and asymptomatic, but can become persistent and cause systemic hypoxia. I would suspect that when such decline is gradual, a person becomes largely unaware of the full extent of the change ... I still remember the amazement I experienced when trying on my first prescription glasses in grad school .... I had gone from perfect vision to moderate astigmatism at a gradual rate and really had no idea.


Tanya said...

Having just had my PFO fixed last week I'll chime in here. I too had lost weight, changed to anti-inflam diet, etc etc. Then I had a large stroke. Trying to find the cause led them to the hole, which also explained my aura migraines(always more aura than headache... i.e. visual disturbances).

We asked the cardiologist if it would make me pale (something my husband noted in the two weeks proceeding my stroke). He said it wouldn't...but anemia might. However I have had a lot of people comment on my improved color since.

Mine only opened with exertion/ coughing/sneezing during the test. I think it may explain a bit of my excercise asthma that never responded to medication and my lack of endurance despite many miles in high school track.

I have read that the hole size increases with age. And I think the chronic neck/shoulder pain I developed a few months prior was indicative of it perhaps being stuck open with a clot that grew and then came loose (my theory).

I am suspicious of sleep apnea/hypoxia also because neck/shoulder pain was always worst in the morning and improved throughout the day. I am going to have a sleep test if I can get someone to schedule one on my hunch.

As for the migraines, I was told that closing this will change the neurology of my heart (take about six months) which is where the connection to migraines is...if the neuro derailing occured in my heart that lead to my migraines than closing it should help. If there is something else causing them (a neuro issue in the brain) then it won't.

My CRP was high until after my stroke. My vitamin D was 23 and came up to 60 at time of stroke. My ANA was still high at that point.

As for the origin of the hole, mine, a PFO, is the opening from the womb that allowed blood to bypass the lungs. I suppose inflammation (I was a formula baby) could have prevented the closure. 25% of people have a PFO.

I don't do yoga but I was a musician and as such am a belly breather. When I felt the worst the deep breathing helped a lot

Dr. Art Ayers said...

I am glad to you finally made sense of your health problems. It took persistence and insight. It sounds like you also got lucky with your medical support people.

Good luck and thanks for explaining the impact of a relatively common heart defect on migraines and many other health problems.

Tanya said...

Thank you. Your insights certainly helped me manage symptoms along the way and understand some of what was happening inside. I wish it hadn't taken a stroke to find it, but I am grateful that I have no deficits from it. I have been blessed and cherish each day I have been given more and more.

It will be a few months before I can test my excercise theory, and I've still got structural work to do. There's a hint of thyroid issue but I am hopeful that will correct itself with the PFO and nutrition.

Tanya said...

Since I have to take aspirin since my surgery I found this very interesting...and the mention of H pylori and Dr Ayers recommendations to take C as well...

Dr. Art Ayers said...

I don't advise the use of NSAIDS, such as aspirin, anymore, because they contribute to leaky gut. Aspirin disrupts the inflammatory prostaglandin production that is needed for normal gut development. The result is local leakiness of the gut. The bacterial components, e.g. LPS, peptidyl glycan, provide a new source of inflammation.

Presumably the vitamin C decreases the oxidation damage due to the leaky gut.

I think that the strategy for aspirin use is to avoid high local concentrations. That means take with water to enhance rapid transit through the stomach and to dilute the aspirin as it dissolves. It might also be wise to take it with food.

Good luck. Thanks for the comments.

Vladimir Heiskanen (Valtsu) said...

Hiya Dr. Ayers! I read some of ophthalmologist Kaisu Viikari's texts once and she has experienced that migraine is very often related to problems (spasm etc) with ciliary muscle, due to reading a lot even though humans are naturally far-sighted. So, her style to avoid migraine (and to even prevent conditions like myopia) is to use plus lenses. It seems to work on quite many people.

On her homepage you can find two English books. Panacea (1978) with a lot of text and patient info, and Learn to Understand & Prevent Myopia (2010). If you wanna know, what she knows abou migraine, I'd recommend reading the migraine part from Panacea, because the new book is extremely simplified with no any tables with patient info or anything.

Dr. Art Ayers said...

I would not be surprised that eye muscle is involved in some triggering of migraine. It is interesting that simply changing prescriptions for glasses can alleviate the problem for some.

Thanks for the interesting observation.

Spunk said...

Recently doing paleo diet after drifted from zone, to dr eades and suffer from migraine with aurea but found quick relief with the NTI device which relaxes the temporalis muscle in the head, I find when I get very tired, near exhustion I can actually feel the head muscle contract as I am susceptible to pulling a muscle. I'm 155lbs and did a leg press of 360lb and after had pain above my right eyebrow. worked out to hard. the strangle think is it also affects the sinus as explained in the nti wbsite

my migraines stopped after 5 days and are much less frequent now. maybe once 6 weeks or longer and use the device every night. I have no association with company.
I think diet is long term solution which your research is wonderful which I wish had come to earlier. found you when looking through recommended paleo sites.

this is also great for clearing sinus problems which I also had.

tried to post earlier but the security word did not appear!

Dr. Art Ayers said...

Thanks for the observations and an alternative strategy to block the chewing muscle input to migraines. The reduction in inflammation from the diet that I recommend, should block the inflammatory part of the migraine pathway from muscle to nerve to blood vessel inflammation to pain.

Andy said...

I've been reading about the nitrates used to preserve bacon (and other cured meats) can increase the risk of cancer? What's your opinion on this Art?

I love eating cold cured meats as a snack but I'm a bit worried about them now.

Keep up the great blog!

Dr. Art Ayers said...

I think that the body has a series of layers of protection against toxic compounds in the environment, but most of those defenses can also be compromised by poor diet. This means that an occasional assault of pesticides, preservatives, etc. is no big deal. Plants produce equally toxic compounds that we eat daily. That does mean, however, that the typical modern diet high in carbs/starch/sugars and vegetable oils will compromise the detox system and the immune system and leave people vulnerable to environmental toxins.

So, I don't worry about bacon, but I don't eat processed cold cuts. I grilled some wonderful, thick-cut, rib-eye steaks (grass-fed) last night and drizzled them with butter seasoned with rosemary and garlic. I had bacon and eggs for breakfast (no toast!), and I will have cream in my coffee.

I don't worry about BPA in my water bottle, but I avoid cash register receipts from thermal printers, that provide at least a million fold high level of BPA contamination. A healthy body tolerates a lot, but the stupidity of the health/nutrition/ag/business system is life threatening.

So, I would recommend that you avoid cheap packaged sandwich meats and get used to cooking your own food from real meat.

Thanks for the question.

Unknown said...

I have eaten an anti-inflammatory diet for years. I also take 10,000 units of vitamin D3. I meditate and exercise and still have horrific migraines. The headaches come once a month with my cycle. Any suggestions?

Linda said...

I'm really surprised to see you suggest sausages, bacon, ham etc, which are loaded with extra salt, nitrates, possibly MSG. It's also interesting in your suggesting keep away from rice. It's got me thinking, by substituting rice for bread, have I been causing more headaches? I've been getting them every other day and it's driving me crazy. Maxalt helps for a day and a half, then it come back. Any thought on Maxalt being a trigger?

Anonymous said...

Hello Dr. Ayers,
I am currently dealing with a long list of problems that all seem to be related to inflammation and compromised gut flora, namely depression, insomnia, constipation, and rosacea (among others). I was wondering if you might be willing to answer some more detailed questions via email, regarding specific methods of restoring normal gut flora, prospects for complete elimination of inflammatory symptoms, and dietary recommendations. Any advice or help you might be able to offer is deeply appreciated.
Best regards,

Art Vladi, PhD said...

Dr. Ayers, what do you think about this research on fish oil:

it seems to indicate that fish oil could be dangerous at high concentrations. In particular, enteric coated fish oil pills might deliver topically high concentrations.

Dr. Art Ayers said...

All of your symptoms seem to be typical for diet-based chronic inflammation and dysbiosis (damaged gut flora).

Most people with your symptoms have damaged their gut bacteria by use of antibiotics. You should be able to reverse the symptoms and return to health by:
1) Fixing vitamin D deficiency that contributes to inflammation [test, supplement, retest]
2) Change to the recommended high saturated fat/low carbohydrate, anti-inflammatory diet
3) Eat raw foods with clinging bacteria to replace the hundreds of species of bacteria that you lack.

These subjects are discussed in dozens of articles and hundreds of reader posts on this blog.

You can try the abbreviation for professor with my last name at

Dr. Art Ayers said...

Art Vladi, PhD,
I agree that taking an excess of omega-3 oils can interfere with prostaglandin signaling as a result of inflammation. In most cases, people take much less fish oil than is required to suppress function of the immune system.

I think that fish oil supplements should be used to test for inflammation as the source of symptoms. That means, that one would gradually increase fish oil supplements until symptoms are reduced. Then the source of the inflammation could be investigated, e.g. grains or vegetable oils.

Taking high doses of fish oil or any other supplement is not healthy. For me, the goal is to be healthy by eating healthy meals of meat/fish/eggs/dairy and veggies. Fermentation of most grains may make them safe, but most wheat products that are commercially available cause problems for most people.

Anonymous said...

Hi Dr. Ayers,

I've been on a anti-inflammatory diet for several years,
following the anti- Candida diet program from Bee Arthur's
Yahoo group.

My cholesterol has gone up to 291; LDL=218, HDL=64,
Triglycerides=46, Homocysteine=6, HS CRP=1.0.

Bee states that it is normal for one's cholesterol to go up as the body heals.

I have been dealing with chronic inflammation from Lyme disease for eight years.

The diet has helped with the arthritic inflammation that the Lyme created.

I do eat small amounts of rice/quinoa, just for the satisfaction, but obtain my calories from mostly high fat diet(butter,coconut oil).

My question for you is; should I be concerned with my cholesterol at these levels now for the past several years?

I appreciate your input and would jut like to say how much I have enjoyed reading your website. It is so informative.

It is refreshing to hear someone in the medical community come out and say the truth. Granted, many are misinformed as well.

Sure wish you had been on Dr. Oz last week. He disputed eliminating grains from our diets and adding saturated fats for energy.


Tom said...

I've been eating a paleo diet which is basically the same as the anti-inflammatory suggestions on this site for about 8 months now. Interestingly I think I've only had about two migraines in all that time, despite working the same chaotic hours at a stressful job. One of those migraines was whilst effectively withdrawing from carbs!

What is really interesting though is all the things I was taught at medical school to avoid as they often trigger migraines (cheese, dark chocolate, red wine, hunger)I have totally flaunted in this time. I regularly eat very dark chocolate, eat plenty of cheese and drink a moderate amount of red wine, and I do intermittent fasting, sometimes also training in a fasted state. So really, I should be having migraines every week. There must be something in this!

Unknown said...

Hello, I was wondering about how you would recommend combining these with a "Superfoods" eating plan coupled with a low-sodium strategy. The ham and abundance of meats seems troubling. I try to stick with fish and chicken and sometimes turkey, while avoiding the beef and ham. What are your thoughts on this?

New England Health Information said...

The Brain Research Institute at UCLA offered an interesting twist on eating chocolate that I'd never heard of -- and you may be interested in. They suggest eating it along with blueberries or kiwi since there is some sort of synergistic effect that boosts the antioxidant power as opposed to eating them at different times:

I was surprised by your comment above, "For most people, eating wheat and starchy grains is unhealthy" since I've read that only about 1% of Americans have Celiac disease (though I am uncertain what number are estimated to have gluten allergies or gluten sensitivity). I was of the impression that for the great majority of us, whole-grain wheat, barley, spelt, rye and kamut products offer many more nutritional benefits than risks.

Unknown said...

It's an effective content on the Diet which we need to follow for controlling the Migrane Headache, Nice sharing of info which helps us a lot.. Thank you.

Donald said...

Regardless of whether the information on your website helps me, I would like to say thanks for taking the effort to post all of this info with the intent of helping others. It is a terrible fate to experience chronic suffering.

Here is my case. I'm 30 years old and by all perfunctory examinations appear to be in perfect health. Weight and blood work are great, I stay active and used to think I eat well. My symptoms include: constipation, headaches, bruxism, stuffy nose, low energy, and irritability. I also believe I have a fair bit of inflammation that usually manifests as joint pain in the elbows and knees during rock climbing and running, respectively. Historically, I have eaten a lot of sugar (candy) and continued to do so with that rationale that "my metabolism can handle it". However, thinking back I realized that my symptoms aren't new, they're just worse. I've always struggled with constipation and I recall feeling that elbow joint pain as a young kid arm wrestling bigger, stronger guys. Now the headaches have pushed me over the edge. Honestly, they're more than headaches...I feel concussed, as if I'm recovering from a baseball bat hit to the head. Often times my eyes will burn with no other indications that allergies are the culprit.

I've been to the doctor but no traditional wisdom is of any help. They all want to give me pills and ungrounded diagnoses. I want to feel good so I can do more good, and I'm hoping that following your dietary advice will be that magic bullet. Thank you in advance for any additional advice you might provide.

sean said...

Hi there,
i am suffering from severe migraine.It start as a very painful headichs on the base of my scull and progress in to a non stop vomit of my gastric acids fluids.It last for about 9 hours and this is going on from about 2 years now. I do not trust medicines and i have been trying to change my diet, even i do have an healthy lifestyle and diet

Anonymous said...

Very interesting reading and I hope this will help me with migraines that I have had for over 10 years and eye pain / other headaches that I am undergoing medical tests for at the moment. I have 2 queries:
1. Do you recommend the use of rice bran oil? and
2. What do you think of the Paleo Diet? It sounds similar to this without any dairy.
Appreciate your comments,

Anonymous said...

I also question your approval of alcohol in the diet. Red wine in particular is my strongest migraine trigger, and if I am in a migraine-prone phase any alcoholic beverage will trigger one. Elimination of alcohol would be one of the first changes I would suggest for someone suffering form migraines.

Anonymous said...

I have suffered with menstural migraine for 3 years leaving me unable to work 3-10 days of each cycle, being so ill I could barely walk to the bathroom or stand up. Having no luck with triptans (they were AWFUL and mademe feel terrible,a frightening expreience)I have had sucess with a tiny dose of beta blockers 2.5mg and taking naproxen 250mg 3 x a day 3 days before my period and 2 days after. I also started amostly (75-85%) anti inflammatory diet four months ago and am now able to work constantly! I tried many natural things to help with the migraines but I'm hoping that eventually I will not need the medication - I am getting better all the time but the biggest jump in health has been starting an anti-inflammatory diet. I tried to stop the beta blockers but had terrible adrenalin surges again ( like I have had for 3 years prior to taking them). Doctors just say it is anxiety, I don't think so, but maybe I will address that at another time. But I feel without the stress hormones randomly firing beta blockers have helped towards reducing my migraines. So far this diet has been a major factor to helping my menstural migraines it has also weirdly cured my periodontitis! This blog was a great help to me when I was deciding what to do next at my most desperate point of poor health with my migraines so thank you.

Migraine Home Remedies said...

Migraine is mostly triggered by a sedentary lifestyle and mostly by an imbalanced nutrient. Carrot, cucumber and beetroot juice along with honey could give you some relief.

Spinach, lavender oil and basil can also relieve you off migraine headaches.

Riaharaj said...

Herbs such as feverfew and gikgo can also be used. However pregnant women should consult a doctor before that.

Migraine is mostly triggered by a sedentary lifestyle and mostly by an imbalanced nutrient. Carrot, cucumber and beetroot juice along with honey could give you some relief.

MHollis said...

Just curious if you've heard/seen improvement in women who have menstrual related migraines who try this diet. I'm 28 and generally have 1-3 migraines a month and a tension headache every day or two. Interestingly, my headaches completely subsided during both of my pregnancies. I've breastfed my daughter now for 4 months and the headaches still haven't returned.
I'm a pharmacist, so I know all the drug options and I'm not interested in them and their glorious side effect profiles. I take a ton of excedrin and I hate that. If I could just get rid of the chronic tension headaches that'd be awesome.
Thanks for sharing your knowledge

Unknown said...

Hi. I too have migrains associated with hormones I use to get a bad one each month with menstruation and now I have the menopause they are 10 times worse. I now have Amyltriptans Naproxen and Panadol with me at all times. I am however interested in the inflammation theory as I feel that my body is inflamed. I am interested in trying to cure mine with diet so is there a book out there with advice on diet? I eat porridge with grapes in morning, an full fat milk !Ryvita, nuts, egg fruit, cream cheese for lunch and meat and lots of veg for dinner. I drink English breakfast tea or water most of the day and occasional glass red wine. Sometimes I binge on a something sweet like chocolates or biscuits I am slim and fit . I do step aerobics and tennis

Anonymous said...

Try almonds instead of pinenuts as pinenuts are actually inflammatory.

Turmeric is the most anti-inflammatory spice you can have as just one tablespoon is 1,563 anti-inflammatory.

Get a balance. You can have your foods like wheat but make sure you get plenty of spinach, almonds, kale and turmeric. Garlic is on the list too but turmeric is the best you can have. You can find turmeric pills if you dont like how turmeric tastes.

Turmeric is not spicy. It's what makes mustard yellow.

Susan in San Diego said...

Dr. Ayers, Can you help me understand why cholinesterase inhibitors (aspartame and solanine, for example) result in migraine headaches, even with an anti-inflammatory diet?

Thank you for all you do to help.

Dr. Art Ayers said...

I would say that the cholinesterase inhibitor activity is just associated with the fact that aspartame and solanine are both antibiotics and impact the gut flora.
Changing your gut flora will change your migraines.

Migraines are associated with brain blood flow and excess serotonin. Serotonin is produced predominantly by gut flora from tryptophan. Thus, some food components, especially plants are high in polyphenols/phytoalexins and alkaloids that are natural antibiotics, which also selectively kill gut flora. The result is unpredictable impact of food and food additives on gut serotonin production.

The answer to migraine control is to change the gut flora. Doctors would typically wipe out all of the gut flora to fix migraines, but they would also cause a new set of symptoms. It would be easier to just change your diet. A whey milk shake or a table spoon of resistant starch/potato starch or a couple of apples. A soil based probiotic might also do the trick. All you have to do is add a new source of soluble fiber and/or add new gut bacteria.

An anti-inflammatory diet is not healthy unless you have a gut flora that is adapted to the diet. Most people change their diet, but not their gut flora and then expect a change in symptoms.
Health = diet + adapted gut flora + exercise + sleep

Let me know if you fix your migraine problem.

Susan in San Diego said...

Dr. Ayers, Thanks so much for your response. I've been progressively low-carb/paleo/anti-inflammatory diet since early 2010, and have been working on my gut by adding PS/RS and SBO for the past two months. Hadn't had a migraine in almost 5 years before Sunday. Ate 50g raw potato 2x/day over three days, and BANG--a migraine. I attributed it to solanine. In the past I had many migraines, which I eventually tied to aspartame, for when I was careful to avoid it, all was fine. I'll continue on the path of RS and SBO. Sleep and exercise are on target. My not understanding the chemistry is a big drawback, so a very sincere thank you for sharing your knowledge in an understandable way. I hope all is well with you and yours.

Robin Connors said...

Most of my headaches are related to stress, when one comes on, I always try alternate nostril breathing or consult with Chiropractic doctor. It almost and always works immediately for me!

Robin Connors said...

I cured my migraine by regular Yoga and exercises.

Unknown said...

Dr Art Ayres How much do you understand migraines to be genetic? Despite antiinflammatory diet, supplements, yoga, exercise ,being slim etc I still get my twice monthly hormone imbalance migraines. Others I know who eat junk, etc never get them! Thanks for great blog x

Unknown said...

Dr. Ayres,

Thank you for your wonderful website and dedicating so much to helping others.

I suffer greatly with migraines and was additionally diagnosed with IBS and chronic migraine headache.

I was also diagnosed with diverticulitis a few months back. My diarrhea that was about 10 or more times a day is gone but I still have spells about 3x a day. My stomach is gurgling too. I looked at your blog and comments from previous folks and saw that a good probiotic and eating some apples could be helpful since the gut has such a strong correlation. I have been now making a kefir (unsweetened), berry and apple smoothie every morning and steel cut oats to eat with it. I also take primal defense iltra probiotic 3x daily. I have noticed a huge change in my frequency of migraine.

Although, I still notice this strong correlation with when I get stomach issues and I feel like I need to go to the bathroom and I can't yet I start to get a migraine.

I also take 800mg of magnesium chelated glycinate for migraine prevention.

Are there any additional dietary or supplements I can add at this point to ease the digestive distress and therefore help my migraines?

Thank you for this wonderful blog doctor.

Best Regards,


Unknown said...

I forgot to mention I take the following daily:

Magnesium glycinate
Krill oil
Vitamin D3 (my d levels were very low)
Vitamin C
B-complex : every other day

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Unknown said...

Another helpful post. This is a very nice blog that I will definitively come back to several more times this year!

Angela said...

Dear Brent
I know your post is old, but I'm desperate to heal my migraines...please let me know what else you did. I am not a big fan of meat :( Thank you

Angela said...

Dear Brent
I know your post is old, but I'm desperate to heal my migraines...please let me know what else you did. I am not a big fan of meat :( Thank you

Anonymous said...

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Lifestyle said...

If you have time for exercises or too lazy, at least take walk down the street or go jogging for 15 minutes a day to get rid of migraines.

Cures for a Migraine Headache

John peter said...

Apart from diet consider also herbal treatment for migraine headache. It is both safe and effective.

Unknown said...

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