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The Role of Histamine – Nutrition Can Fix Your Histamine Intolerance

The Role of Histamine – Nutrition Can Fix Your Histamine Intolerance

I really wanted to explain the role of histamine and how high levels of this chemical, can cause very similar, if not identical symptoms as a food allergy and/or food intolerance. I explained in my article “Food Intolerance vs. Food Allergy”, that a food allergy is the reaction of the immune system. The immune system releases an excess amount of histamine along with other chemicals, to fight the food allergen that has been ingested. So if you become histamine-intolerant it can be as a result of an allergy, but also to other conditions that cause the over-production of histamine. I want to discuss this here, because symptoms of histamine intolerance mimic that of an allergy, so it can be difficult to seperate the two. Understanding the role of histamine and how the levels of histamine are largely affected by nutrition, can help you maintain your levels of histamine and healthy level.

What is Histamine?

Histamine is involved with the central nervous system, hence the brain, the immune system and the digestive system.

I am sure you have heard of anti-histamine medication to help with seasonal allergies that cause sneezing and itching? Well it is because histamine caused these symptoms through the immune system. It is an inflammatory response to a foreign substance it detects as an allergen. So histamines are trying to protect and defend you. But just like the stress hormone cortisol also is released to protect you in response to an immediate stress, a prolonged response can be toxic.

Any response by the body, that lasts over a longer period than normal, or releases an excess of chemicals, becomes toxic, leading to inflammation and imbalances in the body.

When histamines are released, they travel through your blood stream and affect your digestion, your gut health and the signals it transmits to the brain.

Gas-mask-toxic-role-of-histamine

What Causes High Histamine Levels?

I want to focus on what causes high levels of histamine because one of the causes is the foods you eat. You should be aware of what foods can help or worsen histamine levels.

As mentioned, allergies and food can increase histamine levels. Other causes are:

1. Bacterial overgrowth called Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO)

2. Bleeding of your gastrointestinal tract

3. Diamine Oxidase (DAO) deficiency. DAI is the main enzyme that breaks down histamine in your body.

What Causes Low Levels of DAO?

1. Certain foods block the production of DAO, such as:

  • Alcohol
  • Energy drinks
  • Black tea
  • Mate tea
  • Green tea

2. Certain medications block the production of DAO, such as:

  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (ibuprofen, aspirin)
  • Antidepressants
  • Immune modulators
  • Antiarrhythmics
  • Antihistamines
  • Histamine (H2) blockers

It is important that if you are experiencing symptoms similar to histamine intolerance or food allergy, and that you are taking one of these categories of medications SPEAK directly with your doctor before stopping or changing medications. A diagnosis must first be determined, as it may simply be a food allergy or a lack or excess of certain foods in your diet.

Histamine-Rich Foods

Cheese-Dairy-histamine-food

  • alcohol, especially wine, champagne and beer
  • fermented foods such as sauerkraut, vinegar, soy sauce, kefir, yogurt, and kombucha.
  • dairy products
  • dried fruits
  • processed or smoked meats
  • aged cheese including goat cheese
  • Vinegar-containing foods: pickles, mayonnaise, olives.

avocado-histamine-foods

  • Soured foods: sour cream, sour milk, buttermilk, soured bread, sauerkraut
  • Most citrus fruits
  • Certain vegetables such as avocados, eggplant, spinach, and tomatoes
  • Smoked fish, shellfish and certain species of fish: mackerel, mahi-mahi, tuna, anchovies, sardines

Histamine-Releasing Foods

  • Alcohol
  • Bananas
  • Chocolate
  • Cow’s Milk
  • Nuts, especially walnuts cashews and peanuts
  • Papaya
  • Pineapple
  • Shellfish
  • Strawberries
  • Tomatoes
  • Wheat Germ
  • Beans
  • Citrus fruits
  • Many artificial preservatives and food dyes

Foods to eat (if you have been diagnosed with histamine intolerance)Vegtables-food-for-histamine-intolerance

  • eggs
  • freshly cooked meat and chicken
  • fresh caught fish
  • quinoa and rice, or other gluten free grains
  • Non-dairy substitutes, like almond milk, rice milk, hemp milk and coconut milk
  • fresh vegetables, except the ones listed above (tomatoes, avocados, spinach and eggplant)
  • non-citrus fruits
  • fresh vegetables except tomatoes, avocados, spinach, and eggplant
  • cooking oils such as olive oil and coconut oil
  • pure/natural peanut butter
  • Leafy herbs
  • Herbal teas

Common Symptoms Related to Histamine Intolerance

  • Nasal congestions
  • Migraines and headaches
  • Abdominal pain
  • Fatigue
  • Skin reactions (itching, hives, rashes)
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Anxiety
  • Irregular menstrual cycle

These are just some of the possible symptoms. You may have other ones not listed, you can have one symptom or more, and they can be mild or severe. Every person is different.

As mentioned, the symptoms are extremely very similar to food allergies, because food allergies cause an increase in histamine levels as well.

DO NOT make serious dietary changes unless you have a diagnosis or guidance from a health practicioner.

Diagnosis

Blood-test-histamine-DAO-diagnosis

Blood Test

If you have symptoms suggesting you have a histamine intolerance, you can speak with your doctor to determine if you can proceed with a blood test, to measure the levels of histamine and DAO.

If the issue are levels in DAO, there may be necessary changes to make in diet and/or medications affecting your DAO if applicable to your situation.

Skin Prick Test

If you have never been tested for allergies, another possible suggestion from a doctor, may be a skin prick test, as this test is done for food allergies as well.

A skin prick test involves “scratching” into your skin, the possible allergens such as peanuts, lactose eggs, etc to see if there is a reaction in your skin. A study tested the effectiveness of a skin-prick test with histamine. They put a histamine-solution to the pricked skin, which caused a reaction in over 70 percent of the patients, who had histamine intolerance.

Elimination Diet

As with food intolerance, which are much harder to pin-point then a food allergy, another alternative is an elimination diet. This may be difficult as it involves lots of preparation and discipline. It is not necessarily suggested to eliminate foods from your diet without discussing this with your doctor or other health profession, especially if you have other health issues.

An elimination diet, involves eliminating all the foods believed to be causing the symptoms. In this case, if food allergies have been eliminated, next would be food intolerance and/or histamine intolerance. If you had the possibility of taking a blood test, the doctor will be able to steer you in the right direction.

Food-elimination-diet-diagnosis

If no blood test is available, you would eliminate all the foods that contain histamine or cause the release of histamine from your diet, for a minimum of 3 weeks to 1 month. Then you would test each of these food groups one at a time, and monitor how you feel for 2-3 days, before moving on to the next food item. Only on the day that you are testing a histamine related food item, are you not adhering to the elimination diet.

During the 2-3 days that you monitor your body’s reaction to ingesting that food item you return to the elimination diet. You are testing one food item at a time, and even though you confirm that a food containing histamine did not cause a reaction, you remove it again from your diet until you have tested EACH histamine inducing food item. As you can see, this can take weeks so requires planning.

Supplements

There are supplements you can take, before eating foods with high levels of histamine, to help with decreasing your symptoms.

I always encourage trying to deal with the root of the problem, before taking any supplementation, or at least discussing supplements with your doctor.

You can discuss the following supplements with your health physician.

GI Hist Support - PROHEALTH

 

 

G.I Hist Support sold by ProHealth (USA)  Pure-encapsulations-ai-Yeswellness

 

Pure Encapsulations A.I. Formula by YesWellness  (Canada)

 

What To Eat – What Not To Eat

I have mentioned this is many of my posts, that balance and moderation is key. Of course, if you have an allergy, diagnosed through a prick test, you need to eliminate that from your diet because allergies can be life threatening. When it comes to everything else, typically, and of course there are exceptions, if we eat a well-balanced diet, while eating a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, dairy, legumes, your body should remain in a well-balanced hormonal and chemical state. This is of course, assuming that there are no other health issues involved. When we eat too much or too little of certain foods, imbalances, inflammation and/or malnutrition issues are all possible outcomes.

When you look at the list of foods, just reflect on your eatting habits, and take notice if you eat certain foods the majority of the time, and which foods you rarely eat. Even better is follow your typical eating pattern for at least a week and keep a journal. You can ask your nutritionist or naturopath to review this with you. This will provide them with a very clear picture.

If you have been feeling really run down with low energy and/or have been experiencing any of the symptoms described above I would highly recommend you speak with your doctor, or a nutritionist to get you down the right path for a proper diagnosis.

Send me your comments below ladies!

10 thoughts on “The Role of Histamine – Nutrition Can Fix Your Histamine Intolerance”

  1. Thank you for the great post regarding histamine, I can really relate to this topic as my husband suffers from either allergies or high histamine issues. His symptoms are usually hives, but from time to time he gets swollen lips (but we can never pin point exactly what caused it). 

    I also believe that nutrition plays a huge part. He has already removed gluten from his diet, but after reading your article, we will try also to reduce the high histamine foods from his diet. 

    He used to rely a lot on anti-allergy medicine, but I told him that it’s probably not solving the root problem. We will definitely talk to his doctor about considering the supplements you mentioned in this article!

    Reply
    • Hello Fernanda,

      Thank you for not only reading my article, but for sharing your experience.

      I am really hopeful that your husband can find some relief by maybe changing his diet. Has he ever been tested for celiac disease? I am celiac and following a gluten free diet has changed my life.

      If your husband has not yet been able to determine if he has an allergy or histamine intolerance, I think it is very important that with the help of his doctor, a blood test and/or skin test is conducted.

      I wish him the best of luck! 

      Reply
  2. Hi Cynthia – Reading this article has been very educational to me.  I’ve heard the term anti-histamine when allergy medicines are advertised but I never bothered to find out what a histamine is.  Now I know and I hope I don’t have to find out more!  Many thanks for this information. One question: is this considered an auto-immune condition?

    Reply
    • Hello Nathaniel,

      Thank you very much for reading my article and taking the time to comment. Yes histamine is often associated with antihistamine medication for seasonal allergies but it goes way beyond that. 

      There are so many health issues that can be helped with nutrition choices and it can be difficult for some. I hope my articles motivate women to make dietary changes where necessary.

      No this is not an autoimmune disorder. Celiac disease, an allergy is, and if you do not follow a gluten free diet, you may develop histamine intolerance as a result. In fact, that is why gluten free grains are part of the foods to adhere to, to main histamine levels at bay. Histamine intolerance is an inflammation response by the immune system, because there are too high levels of histamine being produced.

      Hope this explanation helps?

      Reply
  3. Hello there! This is an amazing article you’ve got here. This is actually my first time hearing about this histamine and I’ve learnt a lot via your article. I have saved this post for further reference and also to share with a friend which I think needs to see this.

    Thanks for sharing this with me!

    Reply
    • Hello Chimmhogevagreenesnr

      Thank you very much for reading my article and taking the time to comment. Yes histamine is often associated with antihistamine medication for seasonal allergies but it goes way beyond that. 

      There are so many health issues that can be helped with nutrition choices and so please, share this article with friends and family who can benefit from this.

      Glad you enjoyed the article and hope to have you back here soon!

      Reply
  4. Helo, a big thanks to you in this awesome education on histamine nutrition. I must tell you I have been really impacted with knowledge and I a so greatful for this. Before now I never had any good knowledgeable on histamine Nutrition,that’s what actually pushed me to Making a research. I don’t regret at all Making this research.

    Reply
    • Hello Sheddy,

      I really appreciate your comment. I am also grateful that you decided to read my article on the role of histamine. 

      Yes, most people recognize the word histamine from anti-histamine medications for seasonal allergies, but there is so much more to be aware of. Given food intake and food selection can play a huge role in our histamine levels, I hope this article helps people to improve their symptoms, especially if an allergy is not the cause.

      I am glad you took away some valuable information from this post and thank you for sharing with me your appreciation for the content.

      Reply
  5. A wonderful article you have there on ” histamine intolerance”

    Histamine is as a result of the body responding to allergies or certain food that one body cannot tolerate. Nutritional health issue can be fixed mostly with life style  and diet change. One has to observe food that trigger the production of histamine in his or her body and stop eating it and more of food that he body can tolerate.

    This is great information you have shared with us here, thanks so much.

    Reply
    • Hello Lizzychris,

      Thank you very much for reading my article and taking the time to comment. Yes histamine is often associated with antihistamine medication for seasonal allergies but it goes way beyond that. 

      There are so many health issues that can be helped with nutrition choices and it can be difficult for some. I hope my articles motivate women to make dietary changes where necessary.

      Glad you enjoyed the article and hope to have you back here soon!

      Reply

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