Histamine Friend or Foe
Histamine Intolerance is misleading as your body makes histamine for many beneficial signalling/ messaging processes in the body such as signalling the stimulation of gastric acid secretion in the stomach, diluting blood vessels, release of adrenaline to even signalling blood clotting, and keep in mind, histamine is essential for us to properly function and fight off invading toxins. So in many ways histamine is our friend.
Yet when histamine builds up faster than we can break it down it becomes a Foe. This build can cause many possible symptoms such as…
- chronic headaches or migraines.
- nasal congestion or sinus issues.
- digestive issues
- irritable bowel syndrome or IBS
- irregular menstrual cycle
- irregular or increased heart rate
- very dry, patchy, or scaly skin
It is estimated that 1% of population has a Histamine intolerance, and it is a condition that often gets undiagnosed. Because the chemical histamine is part of the human functional body. This is why histamine intolerance does not show up on a standard food intolerance test, nor does it show up on an Allergy test.
What are histamine stimulating foods?
Dealing with a histamine intolerance is challenging, as so many foods trigger histamine to be released in the body, plus everybody will have slight variations on which foods are the main triggers so the lists below, is a general guideline of where to start. The good news is that when the histamine level are balanced, the gut microbiome is reconditioned and the right amount of DAO enzymes is being produced, then you can introduce more foods and see the reaction.
Foods that trigger histamine to be released in the body
When you look at food charts that trigger histamine, they come in 2 main groups histamine rich foods and histamine liberators i.e foods that release histamine from foods, to simplify it, we have put these two list together, because both cause histamine to be increased. So if your histamine levels are high these are the foods to avoid or reduce for a period of time and possibly keep a food diary to see the reactions over a 72 hour period.
- Alcohol especially wine
- Bread and cakes that contain yeast
- Eggplant/ Tomatoes
- Pickles sauerkraut
- Fermented drinks Kombucha
- Fermented Foods Yougut
- Matured cheeses, the more mature the higher the histamine
- Smoked meat products ,salami, ham, sausages, bacon
- Tinned foods, processed foods
- Shellfish and smoked fish
- Long-stored nuts – e.g peanuts, cashew nuts, almonds, pistachio
- Most vinegar’s/ Rice vinegar
- Ready meals
- Salty snacks, sweets with preservatives and artificial colouring’s
- Dairy milk
- Most citrus fruits – lemon, lime, oranges…
- Curry powder, chilli, cinnamon , nutmeg
- Papaya and bananas
- Additives – benzoate, sulphites, nitrites, glutamate, food dyes
Foods that have been reported to block the diamine oxidase (DAO) enzyme:
DAO is the natural enzyme your body produces to help balance out histamine levels, and these foods block this essential beneficial enzyme.
- Black tea
- Energy drinks
- Green Tea (Even though green tea is consider a health food in this situation it blocks DAO)
Foods that have been reported to have lower histamine levels and are thus to be preferred
- Fresh meat (cooled, frozen or fresh)
- Kidneys contain DAO enzymes we will share more about this in this blog
- Olive oil (A number of studies have shown that DAO is dramatically increased by the consumption of oleic acid found in olive oil)
- Certain fresh/frozen fish – hake, trout, plaice
- Chicken (cooled, frozen or fresh)
- Egg (make sure the egg whites are fully cooked)
- Fresh fruits – with the exception of strawberries, most fresh fruits are considered to have a low histamine level
- Fresh vegetables – with the exception of tomatoes, eggplant and spinach
- Grains – also products there of such as rice noodles, white bread, rye bread, rice crisp bread, oats, puffed rice crackers, millet flour, pasta
- Most cooking oils – check suitability before use
- Most leafy herbs – check suitability before use
- Most fruit juices without citrus fruits, e.g. apples
- Local honey
- Herbal teas – chamomile, peppermint, Stinging nettle
- Asparagus, Kale, carrots, courgettes, garlic, cauliflower, red cabbage, broccoli, onions, ginger, fennel,
Please note their is not one list that suits all, this is simply a guideline of possible histamine triggering foods. Yet this list can help with a starting point with combining listening to your bodies reaction. If you need some extra help this book from Dr. Becky Campbell is full of low histamine recipes.
Steps to improve symptoms
A low histamine diet will not completely solve a sensitivity or intolerance to histamine or address the root cause, yet it can help provide symptom relief. A combination of healing your gut and following a generally low histamine diet can resolve histamine intolerance for many people.
Do any Supplements help?
Yes their are some key supplements that can help to strengthen the enzymes that help balance out histamine levels which are…
The DAO enzyme is naturally produced in your small intestine and helps balance out histamine levels. DAO (diamine oxidase) is the most powerful enzyme able to break down excessive histamine levels in your digestive tract, so they don’t build up and overflow.
DAO allows you to digest your favourite histamine-rich foods without any disruptive reactions.
In a perfect world, this DAO enzyme breaks down all that excess histamine to maintain your biochemical balance to prevent all the histamine reactions allowing you to eat as much vintage wine and chocolate sauce as your heart desires. Unfortunately, not all bodies have optimally DAO levels. You can get vegetarian DAO capsules. Also if your a meat eater kidneys from cows and lambs are rich in DAO.
DAO needs copper to function, so keeping normal copper levels is essential – be mindful of excessive zinc supplementation.
Probiotic that may be beneficial
Based on the limited research so far which has looked at the role of probiotics in histamine intolerance, the species considered to be beneficial to help balance histamine levels are Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Bifidobacterium infantis, Bifidobacterium longum, Lactobacillus plantarum, and possibly Lactobacillus reuteri.
Further tentative in research has identified certain strains with this action, such as the Lactobacillus plantarum D-1033, Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG strain.
Those probiotic strains like L. rhamnosus GG, which appear to have a positive effect on histamine intolerance symptoms, do so by down-regulating the IgE and histamine receptors, up-regulating anti-inflammatory agents in the gut therefore helping reduce intestinal permeability or pathogenic bacteria from adhering to the gut wall. These supplements from OptiBac contain some of these beneficial bacteria.
It’s also important to point out that everyone is different, and therefore what works for one person may not work in exactly the same way for another, so finding the right probiotic may involve a little trial and error.
Probiotics that may need to be avoided:
Based on the small amount of research available, it is thought that some of the bacteria used to ferment yoghurt and fermented foods could potentially exacerbate histamine production, so many people with histamine intolerance choose to avoid these types of foods. Typically, these are strains of Lactobacillus casei and Lactobacillus bulgaricus. We would say that it’s important to remember that strains within a species of bacteria may react in a different way, and so not all strains within these species will have this effect, but if you’re in doubt then avoid these species to be sure.
Histamine intolerance only effects a very small percentage of people of around 1%. You can get a histamine intolerance test or more accurately put, has your body got much histamine, which may be worth while if you would like clarity.
Yet I think one answer could be, if you think you have a histamine issue, leave out the histamine forming foods and see if you notice an improvement and make it a very clear experiment over a 6 week period. I also think stress could also play a roll in histamine intolerance, and I would suggest looking into breathing techniques like from Wim Hoff.
We hope this blog has been helpful
To Your Innate Well-being
Antony Taylor & Alejandra Garcia
Creator of The Ozone Spa.co.uk and H2EPod.com
Natural Health Coaches Author of Your Greatest Wealth
Specialises In Ozone, SAC, Hydrogen and Nutritional Therapy
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