What you need to know about histamine intolerance

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What you need to know about histamine intolerance

Do you feel unexplained headaches or a lot of anxiety? Do you experience irregular menstrual cycles? Does your face blush when you drink red wine? Do you get an itchy tongue, throat, or runny nose when you eat bananas, avocados, or eggplant? If the answer is yes to any of these questions, then you most likely have one. histamine intolerance.

Have a histamine intolerance it can be very frustrating, you can already feel that symptoms often come out of nowhere. Fortunately, thanks to functional medicine, many people are able to identify a histamine intolerance as the source of their sudden symptoms, and then determine the underlying causes of this condition.

what is histamine

Histamine is a chemical involved in the immune system, proper digestion, and your central nervous system. It works as a neurotransmitter, which communicates important messages from your body to your brain. It is also a component of stomach acid, which is what helps you break down food in your stomach.

You may be very familiar with histamine because of its relationship to the immune system. If you have suffered from seasonal allergies or food allergies, you may have noticed that antihistamine medications such as Zytrec, Allegra either benadrylThey provide rapid relief of symptoms.

This is because the role of histamine in the body is to provoke an immediate inflammatory response. It serves as a red flag in your immune system notifying your body of any potential attackers. It causes blood vessels to swell, or dilate, so your white blood cells can quickly find and attack the infection or problem.

This is part of the body’s natural immune response, and enzymes usually break down the histamine so it doesn’t build up. If for some reason your body can’t break it down properly, it starts to build up and you start to develop what we know as histamine intolerance.

Because it travels through the bloodstream, it can affect your gut, lungs, skin, brain and the entire cardiovascular system, contributing to a wide range of symptoms, and very often an intolerance can be difficult to determine and to diagnose.

Most common symptoms of histamine intolerance

  • Headaches and migraines.
  • Difficulty to sleep.
  • Hypertension.
  • Vertigo or dizziness.
  • Arrhythmia or fast heart rate.
  • Difficulty regulating body temperature.
  • Anxiety.
  • Nausea, vomiting.
  • abdominal cramps
  • Blush.
  • Nasal congestion, sneezing, difficulty breathing.
  • Abnormal menstrual cycle.
  • Urticaria.
  • Fatigue.
  • Swelling of the tissues.

What causes high histamine levels

• Allergies (IgE reactions).
• Bacterial overgrowth (SBI).
• Leaky gut.
• Gastrointestinal bleeding.
• Diamine Oxidase (DAO) deficiency.
• Foods rich in histamine.

In addition to the histamine produced within your body, there are also a wide variety of foods that naturally contain it, trigger its release, or block the enzyme that breaks it down, Diamine Oxidase (DAO).

histamine illustration poster

Foods to avoid if you have histamine intolerance

If you have a histamine intolerance, it is recommended that you avoid the following foods until you have addressed the underlying cause of the intolerance.

Histamine-rich foods

  • Fermented alcoholic beverages, especially wine, champagne, and beer.
  • Fermented foods: sauerkraut, vinegar, soy sauce, kefir, yogurt, kombucha, etc.
  • Foods that contain vinegar: pickles, mayonnaise, olives.
  • Cured meats: bacon, salami, pepperoni, deli meats and hot dogs.
  • Acidic foods: sour cream, sour milk, buttermilk, sourdough bread, etc.
  • Dried fruits: apricots, prunes, dates, figs, raisins.
  • Most citrus.
  • Cured cheese, including goat cheese.
  • Nuts: walnuts, cashews and peanuts.
  • Vegetables: avocados, eggplants, spinach and tomatoes.
  • Smoked fish and certain species of fish: mackerel, dorado, tuna, anchovies, sardines.

histamine releasing foods

  • Alcohol.
  • bananas.
  • Chocolate.
  • Cow milk.
  • Walnuts.
  • Papaya.
  • Pineapple.
  • Seafood.
  • Strawberries.
  • Tomatoes.
  • Wheat germ.
  • Many preservatives and artificial colors.

Foods that block DAO

  • Alcohol.
  • Energy drinks.
  • The black tea.
  • yerba mate
  • Green Tea.

Foods you can eat if you have histamine intolerance

After having seen that long list of foods, you are probably wondering what you can eat, so here is a list of foods that are low in histamine. Remember that the freshness of the food is the key when you have an intolerance.

Low histamine foods

  • Freshly cooked meat or poultry.
  • Fresh fish.
  • boiled eggs
  • Gluten-free cereals: rice, quinoa, corn, millet, amaranth.
  • Pure peanut butter.
  • Fresh fruits: mango, pear, watermelon, apple, kiwi, melon, 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.
  • Green leafy herbs.
  • herbal teas

How to break down histamine

Once formed, histamine is stored or broken down by an enzyme. This, in the central nervous system, is mainly broken down by histamine N-methyltransferase (HMT), while in the digestive tract it is mainly broken down by diamine oxidase (DAO).

Although both enzymes play important roles in histamine breakdown, DAO is the main enzyme responsible for metabolizing ingested histamine. So if you have a deficiency in DAO, you likely have symptoms of histamine intolerance.

Causes of low DAO

  • Gluten intolerance.
  • Leaky gut.
  • The SBI.
  • Alcohol, energy drinks, tea, and foods that block DAO.
  • Genetic mutations (common in people of Asian descent).
  • Inflammation from Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and inflammatory bowel disease.
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (ibuprofen, aspirin).
  • Antidepressants (Cymbalta, Effexor, Prozac, Zoloft).
  • Immunomodulators (Humira, Enbrel, hydroxychloroquine).
  • Antiarrhythmics (propanolol, metoprolol, Cardizem, Norvasc).
  • Antihistamines (Allegra, Zyrtec, Benadryl).
  • Histamine (H2) (Tagamet, Pepcid, Zantac).

Although histamine blockers, a class of acid-reducing drugs, appear to help prevent intolerance, they can actually only reduce DAO levels in your body.

How to know if you have histamine intolerance

  • Removal / Restoration.
    Withdraw the high-histamine foods listed above for 30 days, then reintroduce them one at a time.
  • Blood tests.
    You can have your blood tested at a lab to measure histamine levels and DAO levels. A high ratio of histamine to DAO means you are taking in too much histamine and not getting enough DAO to break it down.
  • Increase DAO.
    If blood testing is not available to you, you can simply try eating a low histamine diet and adding DAO supplements with every meal. If your symptoms resolve, it means you had low DAO levels.

How is histamine intolerance treated?

  1. Relieve your symptoms with diet and supplements
    If you have an intolerance to histamine, the first step is to minimize it in your diet by adopting a low-histamine diet and avoiding foods that block DAO. It is also recommended to take a DAO supplement, such as Histazymefor immediate relief.
  2. Address the cause of your histamine intolerance
    The real key to overcoming intolerance is to identify and treat the root cause of the problem. Many times this is caused by a problem with the health of the intestine, especially SIBO. Other common causes are leaky gut and gluten intolerance.

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