Histamine intolerances are becoming common and widespread these days, but are unfortunately poorly understood in the medical world.
About 1% of the population experience adverse reactions to “normal” levels of histamine in foods, while the number of people suffering from a sensitivity to this chemical is on the rise.
Histamine is naturally found both in the body and in certain foods and plays the main role in various systems of the body. Yet, when its levels fall out of balance, it can cause serious consequences on the health.
Histamine intolerances are allergic reactions without the allergen. The intolerance toward the “normal” levels of histamines in foods as a result of the poor activity of histamine-degrading enzymes, might stimulate the immune system to release histamines during the inflammatory response.
In the case of an influx or overload of histamines, the body cannot break them down, and this leads to health issues. Some foods are rich in it, or stimulate its release in the body.
Histamine intolerances are a result of the reduced activity of the enzymes, usually categorized into:
- Enzyme inhibitors (certain medicine or foods)
- Enzyme competitors (biogenic amines)
- Enzyme production problems (inflammatory bowel diseases or food deficiencies)
- Enzyme genetic defects
Histamine intolerances are also known as a “pseudo-allergy,” and cause various reactions and symptoms, including:
- Brain fog
- Nasal congestion
- Trouble breathing
- Racing hearts
- Digestive issues
- Low blood pressure
- Hormone imbalances
- Low sex drive
Foods can have various histamine levels, but they usually cause the similar reaction in the body.
These foods are high in histamine:
- Canned foods
- Bread and gluten-rich foods
- Bone Broth
- Smoked meat products, such as bacon
On the other hand, the following foods are low in histamine, and stimulate its release in the body:
- Citrus fruits
Diagnosis of histamine intolerance
There are currently no proven tests that can diagnose histamine intolerance short of an elimination diet. Yet, there are tests that can check the blood DAO activity and the histamine levels in the blood and urine, but the results might not correlate with symptoms. Since histamine intolerance is not IgE mediated, it cannot be diagnosed with the help of typical blood allergy tests or skin testing.
Moreover, when doing these tests, you need to evaluate for related disorders, like inflammatory bowel disease, allergies, mast cell disorders, colitis, celiac disease, fructose malabsorption, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, etc.
After these tests, you should follow a diet that contains no histamine foods, and if the symptoms improve, you might be histamine intolerant.
Treatment of histamine intolerance
Fortunately, histamine intolerances and their symptoms can be treated and prevented, but you need to follow these tips:
— Visit your doctor- You need to check if you are intolerant to histamine, and whether your body is able to process the amount of histamine-rich foods you consume, and whether the enzymes are able to break them down.
— Discover the root cause: Histamine intolerances might be a secondary reaction to other inflammatory issues, so you need to check if something else caused it, such as nutrient deficiencies, leaky gut syndrome, and gluten intolerances.
— An elimination diet- to discover the foods that cause the inflammation, you should start eliminating problem foods from the diet. After a month or two, reintroduce them and you will see which one is the cause of the problem.
— Eat histamine-fighting foods- Foods rich in copper, vitamins C and B6, will help you treat histamine intolerances and eliminate the excess histamines from the body.
— Heal the gut- treating the gut bacteria imbalances can help you fight various health issues, including many histamine issues. Increase the intake of probiotics to treat leaky gut syndrome and fight Candida overgrowth.
— Focus on fresh foods- Your diet should be high in fresh, low-histamine foods, such as rice milk, vegetables, fresh wild-caught salmon, gluten-free grains, and herbal teas.
--Moreover, you need to get a 7-8 hour sleep every night
--Regular exercise will be of great help too, so try to exercise for at least half an hour every day
— Try yoga and meditation, to relax your body and mind. You can also do breathing exercises and progressive muscle relaxation, and enjoy the time spend with your loved ones-
--Consult your practitioner about taking some supplements, like Vitamin C, B6, Zinc, Cu, Magnesium, Mangosteen, Quercetin, DAO promoters, and topical creams.