Do you suffer with allergies and regularly seek relief from anti-histamines?
Do you have irregular, painful periods?
Do you have a reaction to wine?
Do you suffer from anxiety?
Do experience dizziness or low blood pressure
Do you get hives or a red rash around your mouth?
Do certain foods give you an itchy tongue or runny nose?
Do you suffer from diarrhoea or bloating?
You may have Histamine Intolerance if you answered yes to any of these!
What is histamine?
So much more than just an allergy response!
Histamine is a vital messaging molecule involved in regulating many functions in our body like digestion, sleep, mood, sexual function and our brain. Histamine is found in the mucous membranes in the smooth muscle of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, uterus, lungs, skin, brain; produced by cells in our body; and present in certain foods. There are four different kinds of receptors in the body and each respond uniquely.
Histamine and your Immune system
Histamine triggers an immune response which causes your blood vessels to dilate or swell so that your white blood cells can act quickly to an injury or infection. A histamine release can cause headaches and can leave you feeling tired and lethargic. While this is normal and part of the body’s natural immune response, if there’s a prolonged period where you don’t break down histamine properly, you could develop histamine intolerance (HIT).
What is Histamine intolerance?
Histamine intolerance (i.e. increased histamine in bloodstream) occurs when there is an imbalance between intake of histamine and the ability to eliminate it from the body. The condition is often misdiagnosed because it presents with many different kinds of symptoms, which are often misinterpreted.
How does it happen?
Under normal circumstances there is a barrier formed by enzymes DAO and HMNT that work to breakdown histamine in the GI Tract, preventing resorption of histamine from food into the bloodstream. Histamine intolerance can be caused when the amount of these protective enzymes is insufficient or these enzymes are inhibited. In this instance, even ingestion of a small amount of histamine in food (usually well tolerated in healthy individuals) can lead to symptoms of high histamine levels.
Possible causes of high levels of circulating histamine:
- Genetic predisposition
- Environmental factors
- Allergy response
- Methylation issues
- Psychological Stress
- Dietary choices
- Conditions of GI tract (SIBO, inflammatory bowel diseases, infections, parasitic infestations, dysbiosis, leaky gut)
- Inhibition of DAO from alcohol or medications
- Histamine-producing bacteria in the GI tract
Each individual’s tolerance to histamine is different and HIT is often caused by a ‘perfect storm’; accumulation of factors subsequently resulting in a symptom picture. Histamine can affect all of your bodily systems, including your gut, skin, brain, lungs and cardiovascular system. This explains why it may cause such a wide range of problems.
- Abdominal cramps
- Bowel irregularities
- Difficulty in breathing
- Drop in blood pressure
- Fluctuating body temp
- Headaches and migraines
- Heart palpitations
- Nasal congestion
- Period cramping, heavy bleeding and pain – due to receptor sites in the uterus
- Puffy eyes
- Skin reactions
What can we do about it?
Diagnosis of HIT is usually made by a person trialling a low histamine diet (list found below) for a couple of weeks and seeing whether symptoms improve. To manage HIT, histamine will continue to be limited in an individual’s diet according to their threshold. Please always remember that there is no such thing as a “histamine-free diet”! It is also important to assess all possible contributing factors e.g. GI Tract conditions, stress, environment etc. with the help of a health care professional. HIT is often about management, for some it is life long and for others it is easily managed.
Some foods naturally contain high histamine, while others accumulate histamines as they age. Therefore, a low histamine diet will mainly focus on eating fresh foods. The lists below give indications of some of the foods that affect those with HIT (high in histamine, releasing histamine, DAO blocking foods, low histamine) and helps to devise a diet for sufferers.
Foods high in histamine:
- Aged cheese: Goats cheese, parmesan (the older, the higher is the histamine level)
- Dried fruit: apricots, prunes, dates, figs, raisins
- Fermented alcoholic drinks: especially champagne, wine, beer, cider
- Fermented foods: Sauerkraut, vinegar, soy sauce, kefir, yoghurt, kombucha, etc
- Fruit & Vegetables: Avocado, most citrus fruits, eggplant, pumpkin, spinach, tomatoes
- Nuts: especially walnuts and cashew nuts
- Processed & smoked meat products: salami, ham, bacon, sausages etc
- Soured foods: sour cream, sour milk, buttermilk, soured bread, etc.
- Tinned and smoked fish: tuna, salmon, herring, mackerel, sardines
- Vinegar-containing foods: dressings, pickles, mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard, olives
- Processed food of all types – preservatives are high in histamines
- Long cooked Bone broth
- Pre-made salads
- Tinned vegetables
- Yeast, yeast extract
Certain foods can stimulate the release of histamine from cells in your body, therefore important to avoid or limit in a low-histamine diet.
These foods include:
- Additives: benzoate, sulphites, nitrites, glutamate, dyes
- Beans and legumes: chickpeas, soy beans
- Chocolate and other cocoa based products
- Cow’s milk
- Egg white
- Fruits & Vegetables: Avocado, banana, most citrus fruits, eggplant, grapefruit, kiwi, mango, papaya, pineapple, pumpkin, spinach, strawberries, tomatoes
- Spices: cinnamon, cloves, cayenne, cloves, chili powder, curry powder & nutmeg
- Wheat germ
Diamine Oxidase (DAO) blockers (increase histamine levels):
- Black tea, Green tea, Mate tea
- Caﬀeine, theobromine (chocolate)
- Energy drinks
- Wheat (some HIT suﬀerers)
Low Histamine Foods
- Coconut milk, Rice milk, Hemp milk
- Coconut oil & Grass-fed Butter/Ghee
- Fresh Fruits: Other than citrus, avocado, tomato, pineapple, bananas and strawberries
- Fresh Vegetables (except eggplant, pumpkin and spinach)
- Freshly Cooked Meat & Poultry (frozen or fresh)
- Freshly Caught Fish
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Gluten-Free Grains: brown rice & quinoa
- Herbal teas
- Leafy herbs
- Pasture-Raised Eggs
Please be aware, due to any other food intolerances or cross-allergies that may also be present the low-histamine level of a particular food alone says nothing definite about whether or not an individual can tolerate it and it is important to follow professional advice.
Contact the clinic on 9723-9755 to book an appointment or make an inquiry. Monica
26. Histamine Intolerance: The Food List
27. Michigan Allergy: Foods and Histamine
28. International Society Of DAO Deficiency: DAO blocking foods
29. ICUS: Histamine-Restricted Diet