High histamine foods, when consumed, increase the level of histamine in our body. They are good for some people but overall high histamine foods should be avoided as they trigger some adverse responses from the body that might not be good for you.
Ever got a sudden bout of sneezing and coughing and passed them off as seasonal allergies even though it wasn’t actually allergy season? Or developed rashes or hives on your skin out of nowhere?
Well, the culprit here might be histamine or consumption of high histamine foods.
Histamine and Its Role in Our Body:
Histamine is a chemical messenger that mediates body responses like:
- Allergic reactions
- Gastric acid secretion
- Inflammatory reactions
- A small amount of neurotransmitter actions in the brain
Histamine also helps keeping you awake which indicates high histamine foods can promote sleep problems.
Histamine receptors are present in almost all parts of the body but are majorly found in the lungs, skin, blood vessels and the gastro intestinal tract, making these parts the most susceptible to be affected by high histamine foods.
Where Exactly Does Histamine Come From?
Histamine helps our body’s immune system to produce a response when a foreign element is introduced.
It is already present in the mast cells of our body but can be externally introduced through high histamine foods.
Each and every inflammatory or Allergic reaction that you have come across until now is due to histamine.
The allergies causing sneezing or coughing are due to histamine reaction in the lungs whereas the food allergies that you posses are due to consumption of high histamine foods.
Facts about histamine allergies:
- In 2015, a CDC data showed that more than 8% of US adults had hay fever.
- More than 5% of US children had food allergies due to consumption of high histamine foods
- At least 12% of kids had skin allergies
Histamine – Friend or Foe?
Histamine has its positive attributes too. It works with our immune system and is released when something enters our body which it is not okay with.
Histamine is needed for the stomach to secrete digestive juices as well and to communicate messages to the brain. People having proper body mechanism to flush out the excessive histamines have no threat against high histamine foods.
On the other hand, some people acquire histamine intolerance. This happens when excessive histamine builds up in the body over time due to consuming huge amounts of high histamine foods. The body doesn’t possess proper enzymes to break down the histamine present which in turn leads to histamine intolerance. The cause for this could include – genetics, poor gut health, certain medications or diet consisting of high histamine foods.
People with histamine intolerance commonly show these symptoms:
- Hay fever
- Racing heart
- Runny Nose
- Sinus issues
- Skin irritation
- Swelling in tissue
- Digestive problems
How to Avoid Histamine Intolerance?
The best way to avoid histamine intolerance is to limit the consumption of high histamine foods.
People suffering from allergies should not consume high histamine foods as it doesn’t flush out on its own and causes allergic reactions. The excessive histamine ingestion into the body along with less amount of DAO production causes build up of histamine in the body. DAO – Diamine Oxidase is a digestive enzyme produced in the stomach that helps in the breaking down of histamines.
High Histamine Foods
Many people live with allergies- be it skin rashes, irritable bowel syndrome, leaky gut syndrome or hay fever. They might have heard their doctors prescribe medications and say that they would have to live with these their entire lives. But it is not the case. You can deal with histamines on your own.
You can rebuild your body without medications. You may be consuming high histamine foods in your daily diet that you might not be aware off.
Given below is a list of high histamine foods that should be avoided:
1) Fermented Alcohol (Especially Champagne)
Alcohol is fermented using a large variety of micro-organisms. some of which might not be good for our body. These micro-organisms trigger a histamine response.
Migraine attacks are said to be linked with histamines found in alcohol. Hence champagne, red wine and beers should not be consumed by people who are trying to eliminate high histamine foods from their diets.
2) Balsamic Vinegar
Vinegar is a high histamine food that can trigger many allergic symptoms ranging from sneezing to rashes. Avoid using balsamic vinegar as salad dressing. Replace it with these low histamine salad dressings instead.
3) Few Dairy Products
Yogurt and buttermilk are fermented foods that are made using probiotics which cause an increase in histamine reaction in the body. They cause symptoms like bloating, irritable bowel syndrome or flatulence and are considered as foods high in histamine.
4) Packaged Meat
Packaged meat such as bacon, salami, sausage and pepperoni cause histamine increase in the body.
Different types of meat contain different levels of histamine and may also depend upon the way they are cooked. Opting for fresh meat instead of these packaged high histamine foods can do the trick.
5) Citrus Fruits
Citrus fruits cannot be exactly called as high histamine foods but they do promote histamine release in the body. It is commonly interpreted that one should avoid consumption of citrus fruits in allergy seasons as they trigger cough and cold.
6) Soy Sauce
Soy sauce produces asthmatic symptoms in the body because it is amongst the high histamine foods. It inflames the lining of the nose that triggers a sneezing and wheezing response from the body.
7) Parmesan Cheese or Aged Cheese
The levels of histamine present in cheese depends upon its aging. The older the cheese is, the more amount of histamine would be present in it.
This is because of the bacteria present in cheese that may overgrow in the gut after consumption, causing disruption in the natural bacterial flora of the stomach lining. This further causes stomach related problems and food intolerances.
8) Dried Fruits
Dried fruits normally are the most common high histamine foods that are ignored.
People misunderstand dried fruits for being healthy and eat a lot of it, never considering the fact that this food has a very huge amount of histamine present.
Eggplant allergies are most commonly seen in Indian people due to a huge amount of consumption.
Eggplant has a very large amount of histamine present in it and is one of the major foods the doctor asks avoid while following a diet free from high histamine foods.
10) Sauces Like Ketchup And Mustard
Mustard sauce and tomato ketchup contain excessive amounts of preservatives along with large amounts of salt and sugar.
Some sauces also contain vinegar which is not ideal for people having histamine intolerance. Avoiding such kind of foods as well as most packaged foods can prove beneficial to cleanse body off histamine.
One can use tomato puree instead, to prepare fresh ketchup at home.
There are also some foods that are not exactly histamine rich foods but do trigger the release of histamine in the body:
- Sourdough bread
- Smoked fish
- Certain nuts
- Dyed foods
This list of histamine rich foods and foods that trigger histamine release may differ from person to person.
Some people may have to avoid all the histamine rich foods while others may need to avoid just a few. It all depends on your symptoms. Try eliminating everything at first and then try adding them slowly into your diet, taking notes of your body symptoms.
A histamine free diet is to be followed for 4 weeks after which one can gradually introduce high histamine foods back into his diet. Eliminating high histamine foods from your diet would help in the development and repair of the immune system properly and would reduce the chances of reaction in the future.
Getting yourself medically reviewed for DOA enzymes and vitamin deficiency can help in diagnosing histamine intolerance.
Apart from this, histamine intolerance can be avoided by decreasing the use of certain medications that have sides effects that flare up the symptoms by increasing histamine production in the body. Talk to a medical health professional about this.
Using of antihistamines and OTC medications prescribed by your doctor can help lessen your symptoms.
Eat foods rich in Bromelain. Bromelain is said to be a natural antihistamine and is abundantly found in pineapples.
Everything needs to be balanced in your body to ensure smooth functioning including histamine. Histamine is a kind of frenemy for our body. If taken with proper precautions and care, you can prevent the increase in histamine levels of the body and decrease all the allergic reactions that you face frequently.
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