If you’ve done much research on natural wellness, you’ve probably come across the word “histamine.” Histamine is an organic nitrogen compound that serves several functions in the body. It dilates capillaries to release white blood cells at the site of a potential infection. It acts as a neurotransmitter carrying signals between nerves in the brain. It also stimulates cells in your stomach to produce the gastric acids necessary for digestion. In other words, histamine is pretty important!
So why are you hearing about things like antihistamines and low-histamine diets? Why would anyone want to limit something that’s so important for the body?
Well, sometimes you can have too much of a good thing, including histamine.
When your body has too much histamine, it develops a histamine intolerance and you suffer. See, histamine triggers the immune system’s inflammatory response, which gives you the headaches, sneezing, running nose, itchiness, and congestion associated with colds and other stressors to the immune system. This is okay, albeit uncomfortable, for the few days it takes your body to fight off a cold.
But when you have an overactive immune system that is constantly releasing histamine in response to nature’s irritants, it leaves you miserable.
That’s why many people looking for relief turn to antihistamines, histamine supplements, and low-histamine diets to regulate how much histamine is in their bodies and alleviate histamine intolerance symptoms.
However, antihistamines merely treat symptoms, and histamine supplements can address the cause of your overactive immune response, but only after some trial and error to determine what the cause is. In the meantime, the fastest way to start lowering histamine levels and testing if that will relieve your symptoms is to adopt a low-histamine diet.
Histamine in food
Wait, didn’t you just say histamine is made by white blood cells? Yes we did. But it’s also found in many foods. Other foods don’t contain histamine but do trigger its release. If you suspect you have histamine intolerance, avoiding these foods may help your symptoms and prove you’ve been suffering from histamine intolerance.
This kind of diet can also help regulate your histamine levels. Studies found that limiting high histamine foods for just three months seems to rebalance the immune system and offer long-term relief of histamine intolerance symptoms. If you want to experiment for yourself, here are the high histamine foods you should avoid:
- Cured meats, including bacon, luncheon meats, pepperoni, and hot dogs
- Fermented alcoholic beverages like beer and wine
- Fermented foods such as soy sauce, yogurt products, and kombucha
- Soured food like: sour cream, sour milk, buttermilk, sourdough breads, etc.
- Vinegar and vinegar-containing foods like pickled vegetables, sauerkraut, and olives
- Aged cheeses, like Parmesan, Gouda, Swiss, and cheddar, as well as goat cheese
- Dried fruits
- Most citrus fruits
- Nuts and peanuts
- Smoked fish and certain species of fish, including mackerel, mahi-mahi, tuna, anchovies, sardines
- Avocados, eggplant, spinach, and tomatoes or tomato products
- Chickpeas and soybeans
Additionally, avoid foods that liberate histamine produced by your body. These foods are
- Citrus fruits
- Dairy products, including chocolate
- and artificial dyes and preservatives.
A few more notes about high histamine foods
Histamine levels rise as food ages, especially in foods with animal proteins, so your best bet to avoid histamine is to eat as fresh as you can. Even safe foods like fresh chicken or beef develop histamine after sitting in the fridge for a few days.
Often, high histamine foods trigger a slight reaction just after consuming them. This might be your face flushing after drinking alcohol or getting an itchy tongue or headache whenever you eat a certain seemingly innocent food. If you know you react to a specific high histamine food, cut it from your diet and start actively avoiding other high histamine foods to see if you feel less symptoms.
Before cutting out high histamine foods from your diet, research and stock up on low histamine foods so you never go hungry and aren’t tempted to reach for the high histamine stuff. Luckily there are plenty to pick from. Meal planning and prepping snacks ahead of time should help too.
Reducing histamine in the body
There’s currently no medical test to diagnose histamine intolerance, but for many people, lowering levels of histamine in their body has brought them great relief from previously mysterious symptoms.
A low histamine diet is a safe way to test the possibility that you are suffering from histamine intolerance, and if it helps, you’ll be feeling better in no time! And if you can't avoid high histamine foods, supplements that contain ingredients that help communicate with histamine in the body may be a good option as well.
Interested in seeing how Airloom can help you maintain healthy histamine levels?* Get $5 off today with code "histyfits".
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.