Histamine Intolerance: Ditch the Leftovers?
Do you experience rashes or hives or maybe itchy skin? Or maybe you struggle with anxiety or depression?
Or do you have a hard time falling asleep or feeling excessively tired and you have no reason why? Or maybe you feel like you're in the bathroom all the time, or it's another day that you feel like you can't eat because you have a stomach ache.
These are all symptoms that may be related to excessive histamine in your body, which cannot be released.
Hi, my name is Marcie Vaske and I'm a functional medicine nutritionist. And I specialize in helping people get rid of those bothersome gut issues like constipation, diarrhea, bloating, or gas.
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Alright! So let's dig into histamine intolerance.
It's kind of a buzzword lately. You may have heard it, but let's just dig in and see if maybe some of the symptoms that you're experiencing might be due to histamines.
So, what is Histamine?
Well, histamine is a necessary component of our immune system. And it oftentimes what happens it reacts when we get an external substance in our body and it naturally expresses itself and then is able to be released. But when you get that histamine intolerance, it's when you get that external substance in the body and it's unable to rid it and so you have this overabundance or excess of histamine.
So why may you not be able to rid some of those excess histamines of the body? Well, some people actually have lower levels of diamine oxidase in short DAO. And when we don't have those pathways open correctly, then that's when those histamines can get backed up.
Our DAO pathway can get blocked by medications, alcohol, or maybe nutrient deficiencies. If you're low in things like copper, or perhaps vitamin C, or even for women, their menstrual cycle can also disrupt that pathway of ridding the body of histamine.
The gut microbiome also plays a role in histamine intolerance and there was a research study done where they took individuals who were hypersensitive to certain foods or even had a food allergy. What they found is that these participants actually had a lower diversity of particular bacteria and that increased some of that histamine intolerance.
Researchers also found that these participants had elevated levels of zonulin and zonulin is one of the markers that we look for to see the permeability of the intestinal tract. And so if you have a high marker of that, that means that your intestinal tract is leaky, right? You've heard that term before and it's letting toxins into the body.
So in essence, the researchers concluded that the dysbiotic gut or an imbalanced microbiome increases inflammation, which then increases DAO, diamine oxidase, and the mucosal that is all which is stored in the mucosal cells of the gut, therefore creating that excess buildup and histamine intolerance occurs.
While histamines are produced by the body, we can also find histamines in some of the foods that we eat. And if you're eating a lot of those high histamine foods and your body is unable to rid of them, you're going to get these symptoms that we kind of talked about very early on this topic, which looks like things, rashes, itchy skin, maybe you get headaches.
That's another symptom of histamine intolerance. Anxiety, depression, or perhaps that fatigue or unable to sleep, just all these variety of different kinds of symptoms that sometimes get overlooked.
We think it's due to something else, but really it could be this histamine intolerance that you're dealing with and also things with the GI, so diarrhea, stomach aches, maybe just abdominal cramping, constipation, you know, these are all going to be histamine intolerant symptoms.
So if you're experiencing some of those symptoms and the things that I've talked about already sort of resonate with you, it might be worth looking into doing the low histamine diet. I would recommend working with a practitioner on this. It is kind of intense and can feel a little overwhelming.
However, it can help decrease the inflammation in the body and increase the histamine reaction going on. And if you're going to try it, it's really one of those "diets" that we would do maybe two weeks to maybe eight to 12 weeks tops. And at that time we've reduced the amount of inflammation going on in the body and the histamine reaction.
And as we start to reintroduce foods, we can see what may be the triggers. So the overall theory of the low histamine diet is to get rid of the high histamine foods and also some of the foods that produce amines.
And you're probably wondering...
What are some of the FOODS that are highest in histamine?
Those would look like aged cheeses, canned, cured, or even fermented meats and fish. You want to stay away from things like fermented, anything basically. So pickled vegetables, like sauerkraut or fruits and vegetables like spinach, tomatoes, strawberry, and citrus, are all going to be high in those histamine and amines.
Alcohol, of course, because it's fermented is gonna be a real high histamine-producing beverage. So particularly wine and beer.
Then you want to think about just a little detail of high histamines. So one thing is if you're able to eat dinner the night before and not have any issue at all, and then you warm it up the next day for lunch, and all of a sudden you're getting diarrhea, or you're, maybe you're getting the itchy skin.
That is a reaction of the histamine because what has happened is that while it's sat in the fridge overnight, it has created, its own histamines. One of the big things that you'll want to stay away from if you try maybe reducing your histamine load would be consuming leftovers.
And when you're doing something like this, like the low histamine diet, What you want to really just focus on are the things you can have instead of the things you can't have, because that feels really overwhelming. When I think about "Oh, I can't do this, I can't do that" versus "Well, this is what I can do".
What should I eat then?
So what are some of the things that you would be able to consume and not have a reaction with?
Pretty much anything fresh. So most fresh vegetables are gonna be fine a few aren't like bell pepper, a raw onion maybe some overripe vegetable if you have had them in the fridge too long, and you're like, oh, I'm just going to cook them up quick.
Probably not wanna do that because it has fermented or created some of its own histamines. Prepackaged stuff that's going to be out, so really anything fresh in that way.
Fruits, there is a little list of fruits that are goin to be better. So things like apples, coconuts, melon, passion fruit, and rhubarb, will be fine to consume but pretty much all the other fruits are out.
So strawberries especially, dried fruits 100%, or rotten fruit, which I'm not sure you're really going to eat a lot of rotten fruit, but don't. Olives are high in histamine and so are avocados.
As far as like grains, most grains are allowed. You can look at rice, oats, and things with like baking powder, which is just, if you're going to do some baking, obviously you can do coconut flour things on that nature. The grains that you want to stay away from are things like quinoa.
So even if you're gluten-free, you might be eating quinoa. I would stay away from that. Or maybe buckwheat, you're got to stay away from. Basically all gluten. So all wheat products are also going to be not the best choices.
So really the bottom line with the low histamine diet is really just, eating all fresh food, whole foods, no leftovers. So even though you've maybe made it out of some wonderful fresh whole foods, eating the leftovers, isn't going to be a great idea. So it comes to just kind of making meals, a lot of different meals, you know, on the fly and quick.
And when you cook, you're going to be cooking a lot, that's the one thing with the low histamine diet, but don't get discouraged because you'll be working with a practitioner that'll be able to help you out. And it's only for a short time, right?
So, during that time some supplements can help so you can take DAO enzyme actually to help open up that pathway and get that histamine moving through. Or you can try some vitamin C, which is another great de-histamine supplement. Quercetin, and garlic, are always positive, and even taking digestive enzymes is going to be helpful.
So if you recognize yourself in any of this I would just say, eat whole foods to start with, but I do recommend working with a practitioner. It would make the journey a lot simpler for you, and a little bit easier.
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