Allergy, Eczema | November 2, 2016 | Author: Naturopath
If you have never heard of histamine intolerance, you’re not alone. It’s a relatively unknown and underestimated condition that your health practitioner may not be aware of. The problem with diagnosing histamine intolerance is that its symptoms are multifaceted and it is often confused with other conditions like anxiety, rhinitis, eczema or headaches. If you are having strange reactions to foods like citrus, tomatoes, cheese, red wine, processed meats or seafood it could be the result of accumulated histamine in the bloodstream that the body is then unable to break-down efficiently.
Histamine intolerance is caused by a decrease in activity of the enzymes that break down naturally occurring histamine in foods, resulting in its accumulation. In the digestive system the main histamine-degrading enzyme is diamine oxidase or in other parts of the body, like the skin or brain, the enzyme that breaks down histamine is histamine N-methyltransferase. Approximately 1% of the population suffer from histamine intolerance, with 80% of sufferers being middle-aged.
Histamine It is a molecule that is essential for good health. It acts as a neurotransmitter, is a component of stomach acid that helps in breaking down food and is involved in the inflammatory response. It causes dilation of the blood vessels to allow white blood cells to quickly reach and neutralise invaders. But can cause serious side effects when its levels are too high.
The excess of histamine in the body results in a broad range of symptoms, many of which resembling an allergic reaction. These include:
Another reason why histamine intolerance is hard to diagnose is because its effects are accumulative. For example you may not react if you have a smaller intake of foods containing histamine but you may go over your “threshold” if you eat a lot of foods high in histamine. Individual tolerances to histamine containing foods vary significantly, some people need complete avoidance while others can tolerate small amounts.
For people with histamine intolerance it is advisable that they avoid the following foods as they either contain high amounts of histamine, contribute to its release or block the enzyme needed for its degradation:
The trick with a histamine-free diet is to eat fresh foods and avoid processed, smoked, cured, fermented, tinned or even left-over foods, especially meat. Consume freshly caught fish and freshly cooked poultry. Enjoy any of the vegetables and fruits except those listed above. Enjoy gluten free grains such as rice, oats and quinoa and dairy alternatives such as coconut water, milk or yoghurt and almond or rice milk. Eggs, fresh peanut butter, leafy herbs and most herbal teas are also ok to consume, unless you have an allergy. For cooking use coconut or olive oil.
Foods that have been shown to reduce histamine and inflammation and stabilise mast cells include the following:
Herbs and nutrients to reduce histamine
Probiotics may also be helpful to improve intestinal permeability (leaky gut), improve the balance of good and bad bacteria and support a healthy immune and digestive system.
Vitamin B6 is an important co-factor in over 100 biochemical reactions in the body. In regards to histamine intolerance it helps in the production of diamine oxidase, reduces the allergic response and acts as a potent antioxidant.
The best way to identify if this is a problem for you is to eliminate the foods from the list above until your symptoms have improved (usually 2-4 weeks) and reintroduce the foods one at a time to see if your symptoms flare-up. It is a good idea to keep a food dairy to record any offending foods and their reaction.
It is also important to find the cause of the problem as it can be different for each person. It is important to address dysbiosis in the gut with a specific protocol to resolve this problem or discuss the effects of potential medications that decrease diamine oxidase with your doctor. If leaky gut is contributing to histamine intolerance then follow a special diet avoiding processed foods, gluten and dairy and consider taking a probiotic. If you also suffer from allergies avoid mast cell degranulation by avoiding allergens such as dust mites, pollens, certain foods, physical stress and chemicals in the air and products.
Identifying histamine intolerance is difficult due to the condition showing similar symptoms to that of other conditions. Following a histamine free diet is advisable for people who suffer from this food intolerance and identifying an underlying cause such as the use of certain medication or dysbiosis in the gut is important. Eating histamine reducing foods and taking supplements such as antiallergy herbs, probiotics, vitamin B6 and vitamin C may also be of assistance.