Is a Histamine Intolerance the Cause of Your Mystery Symptoms?
In the quest for getting to the root cause of mystery symptoms, many are going beyond the mainstream paleo and keto dietary habits to investigate if histamine, a chemical produced by the white blood cells to remove allergens, may actually be the culprit.
As a result, people are experimenting with low-histamine diets as a remedy for relief.
IS A HISTAMINE INTOLERANCE THE CAUSE OF YOUR MYSTERY SYMPTOMS?
For most, histamine levels rise and fall naturally, only increasing in response to an allergen or foreign invader – think gluten, dairy, pollen, or cat hair. For others, however, histamine levels can remain chronically high, due to unresolved GI issues, like candida and small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO).
Your body recognizes these conditions as an issue and releases histamine in an attempt to restore harmony in your gut. Unfortunately, these conditions can be tough to remove, and histamine is no match. GI issues persist, resulting in a build-up of histamine levels over time known as histamine intolerance.
Remember, when histamine works correctly, you may experience short-term sneezing or itching – that’s the histamine doing its job to remove the unwanted allergen or toxin.
Can you imagine what histamine overload feels like? Yes, you guessed it. Chronic nasal congestion and sinus issues, fatigue, anxiety, hives, headaches, persistent itching, nausea, and even more digestive issues. Histamine build-up can even contribute to irregularities in your menstrual cycle 1.
So, how exactly does a low-histamine diet work, if histamine is made naturally by the body? How does one reduce their levels? The answer is quite simple – food.
SOURCES OF HISTAMINE
While histamine is made naturally in the body, it’s also found in varying amounts in certain foods. Fermented alcohol like wine and beer, fermented foods like sauerkraut, vinegar, yogurt, and kombucha, aged cheeses, and smoked meats are the biggest culprits.
Sour foods like buttermilk and sour cream, citrus fruits, and dried fruits like dates, figs, and raisins follow thereafter.
Finally, though thankfully at the lower end of the problematic histamine food list, is nuts, specifically walnuts, cashews, and peanuts as well as vegetables including avocados, eggplants, and tomatoes can also cause issues 2.
Something else to consider is the production of diamine oxidase (DAO), which is the primary enzyme that breaks down histamine. Lower than normal DAO levels are a common occurrence with histamine intolerance, but it’s important to note that alcohol, along with black and green teas, can inhibit your DAO production, potentially exacerbating symptoms further.
Clinically-speaking, no test exists to measure histamine levels. That said, one of the best markers of health is to always trust how you feel. The best way to do this is to eliminate foods, one at a time, keeping a detailed record of symptoms and mood changes. If you or a client think histamine may be the culprit, begin with the worst food offenders, as listed above.
If you find relief, don’t panic! This does not automatically resign you to a life without your favorite kombucha or the occasional glass of pinot noir.
A health investigation of this nature is to always address the root cause. Remember, histamine should rise and fall normally – it’s just one of the many incredible ways your body takes care of you. By not functioning correctly, it’s letting you know something else is going on so you can dig deeper and work towards harmonizing your histamine levels once and for all.