Updated: Mar 2, 2020
Have you cleaned up your diet, but are still having digestive symptoms? Are you prone to headaches, rashes and stomach pains? Do you react to a large number of foods? You may have a histamine intolerance.
What is histamine?
Histamine is a neurotransmitter, which is involved in your immune system, proper digestion and your central nervous system. Histamine is also a vital component in stomach acid, which helps us to break down our food.
Most of us, are most familiar in histamine’s roll as it relates to the bodies immune response, when exposed to allergens. In this case histamine’s roll is an immediate inflammatory response. Histamine causes your blood vessels to swell, or dilate, so that your white blood cells can quickly find and attack the infection or problem. This is part of the bodies natural immune response, and usually enzymes will break down the histamine so that it doesn’t build up in our bodies. If for some reason your body doesn’t break down the histamine properly and it begins to build up, you then develop histamine intolerance.
Histamine intolerance can cause a wide variety of symptoms including:
-Abdominal cramps, diarrhea
-Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
-Feeling too hot or frequently chilled for no reason
-Fatigue or weakness
-Low or high blood pressure (can be extreme in either direction)
-Hives, itching, eczema
-Irregular menstrual periods, PMS, premenstrual headaches, menstrual cramps
-Nasal congestion, sneezing, itchy eyes, difficulty breathing
-Nausea or vomiting
-Tissue swelling, puffiness
-Skin flushing, sometimes after eating certain foods
-Racing heart, sometimes after eating certain foods.
-Wine, alcohol intolerance
-Histamine intolerance is not considered a true allergy, if you have had RAST, IGG or IGE allergy testing done, chances are you didn’t test positive to any of the foods that are high in histamine.
-Most people with histamine intolerance issues, that I muscle test for food sensitivities do test positive for high histamine foods.
Why do people have issues with histamine intolerance?
If you have an issue with histamine’s it is usually due to genetics or not having enough of the enzyme that breaks down histamine. This enzyme is called DAO, Diamine Oxidase. If your body doesn’t produce enough Diamine Oxidase, it will not be able to break down the histamines you ingest, causing a histamine response and the symptoms of histamine intolerance.
Diamine Oxidase can also be reduced in the body because of intestinal damage from Inflammatory Bowel Disease, leaky gut, Crohn’s Disease, ulcerative colitis, celiac disease, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, and certain medications.
Is there any way to test for histamine intolerance?
There are currently no proven ways to diagnose histamine intolerance. Blood and urine tests are available, but very unreliable, due to the fluctuating levels of histamine in our bodies throughout the day.
The best way to “test” for histamine intolerance is to try a trial period of a low histamine diet. A reduction in your symptoms, while on the diet and a return of symptoms when high histamine foods are re-introduced would suggest that you have a histamine intolerance.
How is histamine intolerance treated?
Depending upon what the root cause of your histamine intolerance is, it can usually be reversed. Your histamine intolerance could be genetic, which means that it can be reduced, but usually not completely eliminated.
If your histamine intolerance is related to a depletion of the diamine oxidase enzyme or caused by gut damage if can usually be reduced dramatically.
Steps to resolve histamine intolerance:
-Eat a low histamine diet
-Pay attention to your root cause and work on healing it
-be aware of stress, when the stress response system is overactive the immune response may be over activated. Your adrenals may need to be addressed.
-supplement with Diamine oxidase and superior quality pre- and pro- biotics (avoid pro biotics with lactobacillus casei this is a strain of probiotic that could increase histamine
-Be aware that methylated B vitamins may aggravate some people with histamine intolerance.
-BASE allergy sessions can be used to identify histamine triggers, heal histamine issues, and check and stabilize diamine oxidase levels.
low histamine diet , foods to avoid:
These Histamine-Rich Foods Below:
Fermented alcoholic beverages, especially wine, champagne and beer
Fermented foods: sauerkraut, vinegar, soy sauce, kefir, yogurt, kombucha, etc
Vinegar-containing foods: pickles, mayonnaise, olives
Cured meats: bacon, salami, pepperoni, luncheon meats and hot dogs
Soured foods: sour cream, sour milk, buttermilk, soured bread, etc
Dried fruit: apricots, prunes, dates, figs, raisins
Most citrus fruits
Aged cheese including goat cheese
Nuts: walnuts, cashews, and peanuts
Vegetables: avocados, eggplant, spinach, and tomatoes
Smoked fish and certain species of fish: mackerel, mahi-mahi, tuna, anchovies, sardines
Many artificial preservatives and dyes
Foods to eat:
Freshly cooked meat or poultry
Freshly caught fish
Gluten-free grains*: rice, quinoa, corn, millet, amaranth, teff
Pure peanut butter*
Fresh fruits: mango, pear, watermelon, apple, kiwi, cantaloupe, grapes
Fresh vegetables (except tomatoes, spinach, avocado, and eggplant)
Dairy substitutes: coconut milk, rice milk, hemp milk, almond milk*
Cooking oils: olive oil, coconut oil
The histamine food list was copied from: https://www.amymyersmd.com/2016/02/everything-you-need-to-know-about-histamine-intolerance/
Tips for following the low histamine diet
While following a low histamine diet it is important to be aware that symptoms don’t always appear immediately after eating a food. Symptoms can appear 2-3 hours later, or when your body accumulates histamine, over the course of the day.
It is recommended that you try to abide by the low histamine diet for a month, watching for potential food triggers. When you try to resume eating higher histamine foods, do this slowly, adding one food group at a time, watching carefully for a reaction, leaving three days in between the addition of each new food group, so you can determine which new food you are reacting to. For instance, nuts would be a food group, fruits another and grains a third.
Some people with histamine intolerance may need to avoid high histamine foods for several months to a year, especially if they have gut damage. Allowing the gut damage to heal will enable you to eat a wider variety of foods, without triggering histamine symptoms.
I hope this has helped to explain what histamine intolerance is, and if it applies to you, helps you to deal with your histamine intolerance symptoms.
Nichole Moffatt, Certified BASE allergy Consultant, Certified Holistic Nutritionist
Inner Balance Health Solutions
5 Wellington Street East, Omemee, ON K0L 2W0