If you have allergies, you will be very familiar with what histamine is: the chemical involved in promoting inflammation to fight against the presence of an allergic protein. Humans have evolved an immune system to react this way to foreign invaders, including pathogens, allergens, and irritants. However, some people have too much of this natural chemical because of their genetics and diet. Here is a compiled histamine intolerance food list and the best probiotic you can take to cure this condition. So, read on to be sure that you don’t have this mentally and physically crippling condition because it can silently affect many people when they don’t even know it.
What is Histamine?
Histamine is the major inflammatory chemical that is released by your immune system as a way to try to trap and kill something invading your body. It is actually involved in many aspects of your health, including your digestion, nervous system and brain cell communication because it is a neurotransmitter.
This naturally-produced compound is also extremely important in the functioning of stomach acid, the permeability of red blood cells and muscle contraction. Histamine is produced and stored in white blood cells. (1)
You are probably most familiar with histamine in regards to your immune system because of all the allergy medication commercials claiming they are the best at preventing histamine release. This chemical is considered the “first line” of defense, or an inflammatory mediator.
We can basically call self-inflicted inflammation by the body to be a mild reaction for trying to defend against mild invaders. More severe reactions would include fever and vomiting.
Whenever inflammation occurs in the body, histamine will be present and result in symptoms. At this point in medicine, it is easy to claim that inflammation is the foundation of most health problems. (2)
You can also look at it this way: if we didn’t have histamine responses, we would never have health symptoms. But at the same time, we would also die very easily from invaders. I view this flawed immune process as proof that nature and evolution is imperfect and always changing.
What is Histamine Intolerance?
Although, histamine is the key to a vital bodily process that can protect us from death thousands of times each day, excess amounts of it in the body is called histamine intolerance. Everyone’s genetics are different and bodies react differently to each environmental stressor. In some, histamine is the answer to all problems.
For these people, food and seasonal allergies, the presence of pathogens, and environmental irritants all mean excessive histamine release to remain alive. Unfortunately, this means that you will have to live with uncomfortable symptoms of histamine intolerance.
There are a few things that can lower your tolerance threshold for histamine, like disease, hormone problems, menopause, medications, allergies, and poor diet. (3)
A few conditions may lead to histamine intolerance or problems with the process of breaking down histamine. This chemical is usually broken down by two special enzymes called histamine N-methyl transferase and a mucus enzyme called diamine oxidase (DAO). The most common and likely cause of histamine intolerance would be a deficiency in the diamine oxidase enzyme.
When you are healthy, histamine levels regardless of why it is produced, is quickly eliminated by these enzymes when the problem has been resolved. In some people, the rate of breakdown is lesser than that of the rate of production of histamine. This results in high systemic levels of histamine in the body. At the clinical level, this appears to doctors as a chronic allergy problem, when that is not an accurate explanation of the problem at all. (4)
Histamine intolerance is highly correlated with allergies, but it should not be classified as one. That may suggest that one thing in your environment or diet is the cause of high histamine levels when that is likely not the case for this condition.
Histamine Intolerance Symptoms
Everybody has a level of histamine that they can tolerate without symptoms. If you exceed that level, you could suffer from:
- Digestive upset: heartburn, indigestion, acid reflux
- Flushing of the face
- Fast or slow heartbeat with frequent skipped beats
- Low blood pressure or vasodilation. You can physically notice this if your skin feels squishy.
- Runny nose or congestion
- Watering eyes
- Swelling of the belly, face, hands, or feet
- Itching, even when your skin is not irritated/eczema
- Harsh menstrual cycles.
- Anxiety or depression
- Fatigue or weakness
Even healthy people that eat organic salads and exercise every day can experience the symptoms of histamine intolerance and not even realize it.
Histamine intolerance also makes existing conditions worse because it raises levels of inflammation. In cases of eczema, rash, acne and other skin problems, this is very noticeable. When high histamine foods are consumed, these symptoms will be increased in severity. These conditions likely have an entirely different root cause.
For women, histamine intolerance symptoms will manifest heavily during menstruation because of histamine’s effect on hormones. Interestingly, pregnancy seems to cure allergies and histamine intolerance or at least significantly reduce the symptoms. Women frequently claim that they feel much better and look the best they ever have. (5)
This is likely because the placenta produces a very large amount of diamine oxidase, which breaks down histamine rapidly as discussed before. This makes it almost impossible for the woman’s levels of histamine to create symptoms. This is why many women feel healthy and euphoric during pregnancy.
What we can take away from this is that histamine intolerance is very common and
Pregnancy = Cure for excess histamine levels
Histamine Intolerance Food List
You can actually absorb histamine from food sources as well, and if you consume them on a regular basis, this can exacerbate the problem of histamine intolerance you could have. It could also be the root cause of the problem.
The content of histamine in foods is controversial because the amount varies depending on the duration of time the food was stored, the ripeness of the food, exposure to heat from cooking and mechanical processing. All of these factors contribute to the presence of histamine in the foods.
Below is a widely accepted histamine intolerance food list for people who suffer from this condition:
- Alcohol: All kinds, but most notably beer, wine and champagne.
- Cooked meat: smoked fish, salami, beef, pork, etc.
- Raw Meat: shellfish, tuna
- Pickled and canned foods: pickles, vegetables, relish, soy sauce
- Fermented milk foods: yogurt, kefir, buttermilk
- Aged cheese: parmesan, gouda, swiss, cheddar
- Fruit: dried fruit, strawberries
- Vegetables: tomatoes and tomato concentrate products
- Legumes: Chickpeas, soybeans, peanuts, red beans
- Beverages: Milk, soda, other sugary beverages
- Spices: Cinnamon, chili powder, nutmeg, curry powder
- Additives: Tartrazine and artificial colors
- Preservatives: Benzoates and sulphites, vinegar
- Grains: wheat, buckwheat, rye, corn
- Foods that facilitate production of histamine in the body: Citrus, papaya, pineapple, nuts, egg whites, food fillers and additives.
- Diamine oxidase inhibitors: Alcohol, caffeinated tea
This histamine intolerance food list doesn’t include items that you are allergic to, which will uniquely raise your histamine levels. This is why avoiding the foods you are allergic and intolerant to is important for healing. Eliminating excess histamine is one of the first steps you can do to heal your allergies and other conditions.
Medications That Worsen Histamine Intolerance Symptoms
The following medications will cause a destruction in diamine oxidase, the most important enzyme in breaking down and eliminating histamine. They will create a systemic histamine increase in everyone that takes them, but if histamine intolerance is an issue for you, definitely use them with caution:
- Diazepam (Valium)
- Naproxen (Aleve)
- All narcotics
Histamine Intolerance Diet and Lifestyle Treatments
If you think that you have histamine intolerance, you should base your diet around healthy and fresh foods that do not cause an increase in histamine absorption or blocking of histamine-reducing enzymes. These foods include:
- Freshly cooked poultry
- Freshly baked/fried fish
- Gluten free grains like rice and quinoa
- Fresh fruit: mango, apple, melon, grapes
- Vegetables excluding tomatoes, spinach, avocado and eggplant
- Dairy substitutes: Coconut, rice, hemp or almond milk
- Cooking oil: olive or coconut oil
- Herbal tea
You can improve your histamine intolerance symptoms by making sure that you get adequate rest every night and exercise every day. Relaxation is also key for reducing stress, which raises histamine levels.
Medications: If histamine intolerance is a huge issue that hinders the productivity of your day, an over-the-counter antihistamine could be used for effective relief. These should be used sparingly because they can become physically addictive to your body and create a whole new set of debilitating symptoms. In severe cases, a doctor could prescribe you oral steroids or lotions for rashes. (6)
Natural Supplements: Vitamin C, B Complex, Zinc, Magnesium, and Copper are nutrients that have shown potential for treating histamine intolerance. Mangosteen and quercetin are great natural supplements as well. Anything that is a DAO promoter will help tremendously as well.
Medical Testing for Histamine Intolerance
To try to test to see if you have high histamine levels, try avoiding all of these items in the histamine intolerance food list and then reintroduce after 30 days and take note of your body’s reaction. Obviously, if symptoms worsen, then histamine in your diet is likely causing you problems.
Also, you may also go to a lab and get blood testing for histamine levels, diamine oxidase levels, and the amount of antibodies there are in your blood, which indicates chronic allergies. The lab result will prove that a high ratio of histamine/DAO means that you are ingesting too much histamine from foods and you don’t have enough of the enzyme to break it down.
If testing is not available to you, try a diet low in histamine and supplement with diamine oxidase with each meal. If your symptoms get better, then this signifies that you have low enzyme levels. Supplementing with DAO may help you tremendously until you can resolve your histamine intolerance condition.
The Best Probiotic for Curing Histamine Intolerance
One of the best ways to treat histamine intolerance is to introduce beneficial strains of bacteria in your digestive system. These probiotics live in symbiosis with your gut to produce useful enzymes like diamine oxidase that are needed to break down and eliminate histamine from the body.
One of the major causes of histamine intolerance is an imbalance of unhealthy gut flora along with digestive problems like bleeding intestinal walls, leaky gut syndrome, and indigestion. Supplementing with a probiotic that contains all the natural strains of bacteria you need for healthy function will help your health in many ways.
Many people eat a diet that promotes the lingering of histamine in the body, so making sure that probiotic bacteria help digest the food and break down the histamine is a great method for reducing absorption into your body. It’s not like we want to avoid those high-histamine foods anyways!
This probiotic will work wonderfully for somebody that has high histamine levels because it incorporates gut-healing MSM along with Vitamin C, which acts as an antioxidant that greatly assists in the bioavailability and absorption of MSM. It is a probiotic that targets allergies, so a lot of you that suffer from them will find that it can help them a lot, just like it did for me.
I really think it would work better than any other probiotic for histamine intolerance.
I am always here for you, so if you have a question or something to add about this histamine intolerance foods list, please leave me a comment below!
Talk to you soon,