High histamine foods

Do you experience unexplained headaches or anxiety? What about irregular menstrual cycles? Does your face flush when you drink red wine? Do you get an itchy tongue or runny nose when you eat bananas, avocados, or eggplants? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you could have a histamine intolerance.

What is histamine?

Histamine is a chemical involved in your immune system, proper digestion, and your central nervous system. As a neurotransmitter, it communicates important messages from your body to your brain. It is also a component of stomach acid, which is what helps you break down food in your stomach.

You might be most familiar with histamine as it relates to the immune system. If you’ve suffered from seasonal allergies or food allergies, you may have noticed that antihistamine medications like Zytrec, Allegra or Benedryl provide quick relief of your symptoms. This is because histamine’s role in the body is to cause an immediate inflammatory response. It serves as a red flag in your immune system, notifying your body of any potential attackers.

Histamine causes your blood vessels to swell, or dilate, so that your white blood cells can quickly find and attack the infection or problem. The histamine buildup is what gives you a headache and leaves you feeling flushed, itchy and miserable. This is part of the body’s natural immune response, but if you don’t break down histamine properly, you could develop what we call histamine intolerance.

Because it travels throughout your bloodstream, histamine can affect your gut, lungs, skin, brain, and entire cardiovascular system, contributing to a wide range of problems often making it difficult to pinpoint and diagnose.

Anybody can have Histamine Intolerance, but you are at higher risk if you eat a GAPS diet, low-carb diet, enjoy gourmet foods, or have been swept up in the current fermented foods fad, because histamine is found lurking primarily in aged, fermented, cured, cultured, and smoked foods. Foods like aged beef, ripe cheeses, salami, sauerkraut, red wine, and natto can all be quite high in histamine.

What Causes High Histamine Levels?

Common symptoms of histamine intolerance include:

  • Headaches/migraines
  • Difficulty falling asleep, easily arousal
  • Hypertension
  • Vertigo or dizziness
  • Arrhythmia, or accelerated heart rate
  • Difficulty regulating body temperature
  • Anxiety
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Flushing
  • Nasal congestion, sneezing, difficulty breathing
  • Abnormal menstrual cycle
  • Hives
  • Fatigue
  • Tissue swelling

What Causes High Histamine Levels?

 

Low histamine level foods:

  • Fresh meat (cooled, frozen or fresh)
  • Freshly caught fish
  • Chicken (skinned and fresh)
  • Egg yolk
  • Fresh fruits – with the exception of strawberries, most fresh fruits are considered to have a low histamine level (also see histamine liberators below)
  • Fresh vegetables – with the exception of tomatoes
  • Grains – rice noodles, yeast free rye bread, rice crisp bread, oats, puffed rice crackers, millet flour, pasta (spelt and corn based)
  • Fresh pasteurised milk and milk products
  • Milk substitutes – coconut milk, rice milk
  • Cream cheese, butter (without the histamine generating rancidity)
  • Most cooking oils – check suitability before use
  • Most leafy herbs – check suitability before use
  • Most non-citric fruit juices
  • Herbal teas – with the exception of those listed below

High histamine level foods:

  • Alcohol
  • Pickled or canned foods – sauerkrauts
  • Matured cheeses
  • Smoked meat products – salami, ham, sausages….
  • Shellfish
  • Beans and pulses – chickpeas, soy beans, peanuts
  • Nuts – walnuts, cashew nuts
  • Chocolates and other cocoa based products
  • Vinegar
  • Ready meals
  • Salty snacks, sweets with preservatives and artificial colourings

Histamine liberators:

  • Most citric fruits – kiwi, lemon, lime, pineapple, plums…
  • Cocoa and chocolate
  • Nuts
  • Papaya
  • Beans and pulses
  • Tomatoes
  • Wheat germ
  • Additives – benzoate, sulphites, nitrites, glutamate, food dyes

Diamine Oxidase (DAO) blockers:

Diamine oxidase is an enzyme that helps us digest.  It’s present in food in various levels.  Legumes contain high amounts, as well as some internal organs like kidneys and intestines.  You want to have DAO, so the blockers should be limited.

  • Alcohol
  • Black tea
  • Energy drinks
  • Green tea
  • Mate tea

Debatable:

  • Yoghurt – depends on the bacteria culture used
  • Egg white – it is a histamine liberator only when in its raw state

Other

  • Yeast – even though it does not contain histamine as such, yeast serves as a catalyst for histamine generation during manufacture. There is no yeast in the end product.

 

References
Histamine intolerance UK

Diagnosis diet

Mindbodygreen

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