Constantly tired, getting headaches regularly, migraines, congestion, gut or skin isssues?
When you drink alcohol, particularly red wine do you flush easily?
Do you have unexplained loose bowels or menstrual cramping or irregularity?
Perhaps you skin or tongue gets itchy after eating certain foods or you suffer from a runny nose or eyes after tucking into a juicy chargrilled aged steakj, eating avocado, bananas, tomatoes or eggplant?
These are just some of the symptoms you may be experience if you have a histamine intolerance.
Eating a low histamine diet is the best way to work out if this is your challenge.
When developing therapeutic eating plans, like a histamine elimination diet, I use myself as a guinea pig so that I know first hand the benefits and challenges experienced whilst following particularly restrictive plans. These plans like a low FODMAPS diet are designed to be used only for a short time as our goal is always to get you eating as wide a variety of foods as possible to optimise health.
Whilst developing plans I create guidelines to help to adapt your eating habits so that it is simpler for you to stick to the plan and get the answers you’re looking for.
It also allows me to understand what challenges might be expected but I also get to experience the benefits.
So for the last couple of weeks I’ve been eating a very low histamine plan. Those of you following me on social media will have seen some of the meals I have been creating.
Breakfast is always tricky but the low histamine zucchini sweet potato and corn fritter recipe I created is a real winner.
These fritters are also fabulous for anyone on a gluten, grain, dairy and / or egg free eating plan as it ticks all these boxes. Make a batch, freeze and reheat as needed for a quick snack, brekkie lunch or dinner.
Try them and I’d love to receive your feedback.
I’ve heard of histamine but what is it?
Histamine is a chemical produced in the body by mast cells that are part of your immune system. It’s most commonly known for the symptoms it causes in reponse to an allergen, think runny nose and eyes, itching and headaches. Hayfever anyone?
It also plays a role in many other systems including your digestive and neurological systems.
Many foods also contain histamine. As foods ripen, are aged or fermented their histamine levels increase. Other foods can increase the release of your body’s own histamine or interfere with its clearance.
Conversely other foods can actually help inhibit the release of histamine.
Histamine intolerance develops when your body’s histamine level rise higher then your ability to clear it by the enzymes that break it down are inadequate.
Diamine oxidase (DAO) is the main enzyme involved in clearing histamine. Some people have greater challenges with histamine as they have a DAO genetic variation reducing their production of DAO.
Symptoms of histamine intolerance may include
- hay fever
- headaches or migraines
- skin issues including itchiness, hives and rashes
- chronic cough
- post nasal drip
- nasal congestion
- menstrual issues
- digestive and bowel issues, including nausea, vomiting & diarrhoea
More severe symptoms of histamine intolerance include
- Irregular heart beat
- High blood pressure
- Abdominal cramps
- Tissue swelling
Histamine intolerance is difficult to diagnose and the best method is to conduct an elimination diet, eating a very low histamine diet for 2-4 weeks under the guidance of a professional practitioner. Cooking and storing of foods also affect their histamine levels. The low histamine diet is not recommended to be used long term but rather to help rule in or out histamine as a contributor to symptoms. If positive then foods can be slowly reintroduced to ascertain your individual histamine tolerance threshold. It’s also important to investigate other underlying causes that can be contributing to higher histamine levels such as intestinal permeability, (aka “leaky gut”) bacterial overgrowth that produce histamine, stress and other factors that reduce your body’s ability to clear histamines. As these are addressed you should find that you can tolerate more foods without causing symptoms.
There is a prick test that was used in a study for histamine tolerance, (1) using a1% histamine solution, with results read after 20-50 mins and 64 of 81 histamine intolerant (HIT) people tested positive compared with 14/75 in control group. However this is not readily available.