Histamine Intolerance

There are a lot of individuals with histamine intolerance yet there is not a lot of solid evidence and research and clinical standard of care for these people. One thing that makes it very challenging is that everyone seems to have different levels of sensitivity to different food. 

If you experience any of these symptoms, you may be intolerant to histamine:

  • Insomnia
  • Arrhythmia or unusual heartbeats
  • Skin issues and rashes
  • Hives
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Flushing
  • Nasal congestion
  • Swelling
  • Abdominal cramping

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With histamine intolerance, often times it is related to an individual’s tolerance of different foods and their sensitivity and the level of gut dysbiosis that they have. If they have a healthy gut, they may be able to tolerate carbohydrates but are sensitive to histamine. Some people are histamine-intolerant and they have issues with foods like FODMAPs, which can get their diet very, very restrictive at some point. In some cases, the histamine tolerance can be related to more infectious issues that would have to be treated with antimicrobials first.

As you can see histamine intolerance is quite complicated and it would be impossible to really cover the whole spectrum of it in this article. As far as the diet is concerned, below is a good list of foods that are highest in histamine and that you may want to avoid for a while to see if your symptoms are related to histamine intolerance.

  • Veggies: spinach, avocados, tomatoes, and white potatoes
  • Fruits: citrus, strawberries, cherries, bananas, pineapple, kiwi, papaya, mango, raspberries, pears.
  • Animal protein: anything processed (bacon, sausage, salami, pepperoni, etc); shellfish; fish that is not freshly caught
  • Bone broth
  • Fermented foods: including yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, vinegar, alcohol, mushrooms
  • Nuts and seeds: all of them
  • Sugar
  • Chocolate
  • Cheese
  • Yeast

There are some foods on this list that you normally consider healthy and eat frequently because you’ve read or heard they’re good for your health. However, sometimes even though a food contains a lot of beneficial nutrients, it can be a problematic food for those who cannot tolerate histamine. A lot of times, people are sensitive to seafood, so foods like fish, shellfish, especially if the fish is not fresh but has been in the fridge for a while. Bone broth is another food that most histamine-intolerant people cannot eat because when you make bone broth, you are cooking the meat for a really long time, and it breaks down those proteins into smaller amino acids, and this provides a lot of histamines and also other histamine-producing amino acids that the person will react to.

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There are also some fruits and vegetables that are problematic for people. There are certain ones that stimulate the release of histamine from mast cells in your body. These foods include bananas, strawberries, tomatoes, chocolate and pineapple, and some other ones that don’t necessarily have histamine in them, but they cause a histamine response in certain people.

Other histamine-intolerance foods that are problematic are foods that are fermented. These include fermented vegetables like sauerkraut, kimchi, and pickled foods, as well as fermented beverages like kefir, kombucha, and any sort of fermented kinds of vinegar. Aged cheeses are also fermented and therefore can be pretty problematic for some people.

Other types of meats that have a really big histamine response are processed and smoked meats, such as ham, salami, and bacon. Food that has been canned or pre-prepared, or as I said above, leftovers in general, can be a problem.

An important factor when it comes to histamine intolerance is a healthy gut flora since the main cause of histamine intolerance is imbalanced gut bacteria. Healing the gut is, therefore, the primary approach in this case, instead of just starting a low-histamine diet and expecting it to improve.

There can also be some nutrient deficiencies that cause histamine intolerance because of the lack of the enzyme that breaks histamine down. This enzyme is called diamine oxidase (DAO) and lower DAO means increased circulating histamine levels. This can be measured in the serum. 

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As far as lifestyle is concerned, some people with histamine tolerance also deal with HPA axis disorders (adrenal fatigue). Some also have either IBS or SIBO or some kind of other gut issues, and these tend to be highly stressed people. When you are under a lot of stress, you are more likely to develop gut dysbiosis because of the connection between the brain and the gut. Therefore, when it comes to lifestyle factors it would be helpful to make sure you are not over-exercising and to focus on stress management strategies.

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Lastly,  there are some supplements that are helpful. There are supplements that help break down histamine, and there are some histamine sensitive-appropriate probiotics, strains of probiotics that either reduce histamine or are neutral to histamine. I recommend you work with a licensed practitioner to help you select the right ones for you.  

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Do you think you make too much histamine or don’t break it down properly? Are you interested in finding out what works best for you and how you can get symptom relief? CLICK HERE to schedule a FREE discovery call!

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