Why You Need More Fiber If You Struggle With Headaches, According To Research
It's estimated that up to 18% of the world's population experiences migraines1, or recurrent painful headaches, with even more people dealing with headaches on a regular basis. But why? According to new research published in Frontiers in Nutrition2, not getting enough fiber could be to blame. Here's what the study found.
The connection between fiber and migraines.
For this study, researchers from China wanted to look at how dietary fiber affected the prevalence and severity of migraines and headaches in participants. To do so, they analyzed existing data on fiber and headaches from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
And based on their findings, it would appear fiber might play more of a role in headaches than we previously thought. Namely, the researchers saw that there was a significant association between the two, with more dietary fiber leading to a decrease in severe headaches and migraines.
For every increase of 10 grams of fiber per day, there was an 11% decrease in the prevalence of headaches and migraines, the researchers observed.
"To the best of our knowledge, no previous study has examined the relationship between dietary fiber and severe headache or migraine," the study authors note in their research, adding, "Increasing the intake of fiber-rich foods might protect from severe headache or migraine."
What to do about it.
If indeed, fiber can help us ward off headaches and migraines, the solution is simple: Get more fiber in your diet! Fiber is present in tons of different foods, from grains to fruits and vegetables, as well as legumes, nuts, and seeds.
Here's a quick list of some common staples you may not have realized are fiber-rich:
- Sweet potatoes
- Sunflower seeds
And of course, beyond just the foods you eat, you can also use a high-quality supplement to easily fulfill your fiber needs. If you don't know where to start, check out our roundup of the best fiber supplements, all backed by a nutrition Ph.D.
A lot of us suffer from headaches and migraines, and according to this research, fiber might be able to help. Research shows that getting enough fiber daily can also promote gut health, immune function, digestion, blood sugar balance, healthy bowel movements, and more. So the next time you're doing some grocery shopping, be sure to throw some fiber-rich essentials or a fiber supplement in your cart.
Sarah Regan is a Spirituality & Relationships Editor, a registered yoga instructor, and an avid astrologer and tarot reader. She received her bachelor's in broadcasting and mass communication from State University of New York at Oswego, and lives in Buffalo, New York.