Having histamine intolerance can be immensely frustrating, but a low histamine diet will help. Are you confused about planning a real diet with little histamine involved? What to eat, what to avoid, and how should you prepare?
If the above questions bother you, do not worry! This article promises to resolve all your problems within minutes. Scroll down now!
What Is Histamine
For your concern, histamine is a chemical which plays a critical role in affecting a variety of major systems in the body, including the immune, neurological, and digestive system.
In the immune system, histamine acts as a red flag, which notifies the body of any potential attackers. Meanwhile, this chemical will convey messages from the body to the brain to investigate the current situation and decide on the next step. In terms of the digestive organs, histamine assists in regulating the production of stomach acid.
Histamine is naturally produced in the body by the immune cells during inflammatory reactions. However, the formation of histamine occurs in certain foods as well. The chemical forms when bacteria or yeasts turn the amino acid histidine to histamine, which means any food with protein can produce histamine under suitable conditions.
Typically, enzymes will break down the histamine released to avoid histamine build-up. In case the breakdown process fails, the chemical will accumulate and cause histamine intolerance.
About 1 percent of the world population suffers from histamine intolerance, in which middle-aged women are the majority. One theory points out that women are more prone to this problem than men, as the female sex hormones may cause the cells to release more histamine.
People with histamine intolerance will experience various unpleasant symptoms, which are similar to an allergic reaction. However, the symptoms will vary, depending on each person and the histamine levels in their body.
As histamine goes through the bloodstream, it will affect the functions of different systems and organs. Below is a list of common symptoms of histamine intolerance:
- Itching, redness, hives
- Swelling of the lips, tongue, or skin
- Sneezing and nasal congestion
- Low blood pressure
- Heart arrhythmia
- Sleep disturbances
- Menstrual irregularity
- Chronic fatigue
As these symptoms are non-specific, it is difficult to diagnose whether you have histamine intolerance or not. According to some medical professionals, an elimination diet will come in handy in this case. Following this special diet means you will stop eating certain foods and slowly adding them back in to examine the body reaction. The result will confirm the presence of histamine build-up if any.
For maximum effectiveness, you have to include low histamine foods into your diet. Let’s come to the next part to know!
Low Histamine Foods
Note down the below list:
- Gluten-free grains: rice, quinoa, corn, millet, amaranth, teff
- Fresh fruits: apples, apricots, blackberries, blueberries, cherries, coconuts, mangos, pears, watermelons, kiwis, cantaloupes, grapes, etc.
- Fresh vegetables: beets, bok choy, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, garlic, greens, leeks, lettuce, onions, etc. (except tomatoes, spinach, avocado, and eggplant)
- Dairy substitutes: coconut milk, rice milk, hemp milk, almond milk
- Cooking oils: olive oil, coconut oil
- Leafy herbs
- Herbal teas
Do you realize that freshness is the key in a low histamine diet? It is because fresh foods usually contain the smallest amounts of histamine.
What To Avoid In Low Histamine Diet
There are two types of foods you should avoid while going on a low histamine diet. First off, stop consuming dishes with high histamine levels.
Although the histamine levels are quite difficult to measure, it is proved that aged and fermented foods have the highest amount of histamine.
Below are a handful of histamine-rich foods:
- Fermented alcoholic beverages, especially wine, champagne, and beer
- Fermented foods: sauerkraut, vinegar, soy sauce, kefir, yogurt, kombucha, etc.
- Vinegar-containing foods: pickles, mayonnaise, olives
- Cured meats: bacon, salami, pepperoni, luncheon meats, and hot dogs
- Soured foods: sour cream, sour milk, buttermilk, soured bread, etc
- Dried fruit: apricots, prunes, dates, figs, raisins
- Nuts: walnuts, cashews, and peanuts
- Vegetables: avocados, eggplant, spinach, and tomatoes
- Smoked, frozen or canned fish: mackerel, mahi-mahi, tuna, anchovies, sardines
The other type is known as histamine liberators. These foods may be low in histamine, but they can trigger your mast cells to release histamine inside the body. Although there is insufficient scientific evidence to confirm this theory, avoiding possible histamine releasers is still a safe option.
Some potential histamine liberators:
- Fruits: pineapples, bananas, strawberries, papaya
- Citrus fruit such as oranges, limes, lemons, and grapefruit
- Vegetables: tomatoes
- Food additives (in processed foods and drinks), such as colorants, preservatives, stabilizers, and flavorings
Low Histamine Diet Tips And Tricks
#1. Note down everything you consume in a daily diary
You may want to refer to the detailed diary to identify which foods cause histamine intolerance and which do not. If you feel confused, hand the notebook for your doctor or dietician, and they will help you.
#2. Go for the freshest food available
As mentioned above, fresh foods generally contain the lowest level of histamine. When shopping for meat, check the “packaged on” date to choose the most recently butchered. In case of fish, look for the “frozen-at-sea” (FAS) label.
With the ingredients at home, it is suggested that you keep them in a refrigerator to maintain the freshness and minimize the histamine accumulation.
#3. Avoid junk foods and processed ones
We all love junk foods, I know! However, junk foods may be the cause behind your unpleasant symptoms of histamine intolerance. Exclude these unhealthy foods will bring out the best result of your elimination diet.
#4. Stop following a low histamine diet before four weeks
It is clear that the diet is immensely restrictive. Eliminating a wide variety of foods is undoubtedly harmful to your health, which possibly leads to nutrient deficiencies. Therefore, the maximum period for an elimination diet should not exceed four weeks.
#5. Consider taking supplements
According to experts, some supplements will aid in further reducing the symptoms while going on the low histamine diet. Helpful supplements include:
- Antihistamines: It provides temporary relief from the symptoms. However, the chemical has some side effects, drowsiness, for example.
- Supplemental DAO: It will assist in breaking down histamine in foods, but not reducing systemic histamine levels.
- Vitamins: There is some evidence that consuming vitamin C, vitamin B6, and copper will stimulate the breakdown process of histamine. It is more effective to take in vitamin-rich foods rather than relying on supplements.
The Bottom Line
If histamine intolerance is disturbing your life, try following an elimination diet. It can relieve unpleasant symptoms and save you from stress. However, refer to this article for critical foods to enjoy and to avoid to ensure maximum effectiveness.
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