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Epigenetic Diet for Migraine Requires More Research, Review Finds

Alison Rodriguez
The epigenetic diet is often recommended for patient with migraine; however, the diet does not necessarily affect the epigenetic profile, suggesting the need for more research investigating the combined effect of folate and valproic acid in migraine in order to determine dietary recommendations.
The epigenetic diet is often recommended for patients with migraine; however, the diet does not necessarily affect the epigenetic profile, suggesting the need for more research investigating the combined effect of folate and valproic acid in migraine in order to determine dietary recommendations.

A recent review, published by Nutrients, evaluated the effectiveness of the epigenetic diet and its application by considering DNA methylation and folate—a nutrient involved in epigenetic diets and migraine prevention.

“Dietary intervention in a disease is always attractive as it is rarely associated with serious side effects. However, even a simple diet contains many components that may interact with many genes in many ways,” explained the authors. “This may lead to effects that are difficult to predict. On the other hand, attempts to isolate the impact of targeted dietary modifications may make little, if any, sense, as they might lead to the replacement of a diet with a drug.”

The review results suggested that an avoidance diet, by eliminating compounds, is often easier to apply than a comprehensive diet—a diet including specific beneficial compounds. However, the authors suggested that a long-term elimination diet can result in undernutrition and could result in disorders, such as psychological loads or infection.

“When considering the application of an epigenetic diet for migraines, we should determine its advantages over epigenetic drugs that can be administrated in a more controlled way with a potentially more specific action,” the authors said. “Our answer is: there are no advantages. The only possible advantage is that a drug with known epigenetic action may not act effectively on migraines when administrated alone, but it may prove to be efficient when given in a combination with dietary components.”

Based on the review, the researchers concluded that although there are several trials suggesting that folate administration may be beneficial to migraineurs, there is not enough sufficient evidence to relate these effects to the epigenetic action of folate. Therefore, according to the authors, diets fortified with folate cannot be classified as epigenetic diets.

Additional studies are needed to clarify the beneficial effects of folate and epigenetic action, as well as the relationship of avoidance diets for migraine with epigenetic events.

Reference

Fila M, Chojnacki C, et al. Is an “epigenetic diet” for migraines justified? The case of folate and DNA methylation [published online November 14, 2019]. Nutrients. doi: 10.3390/nu11112763.

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