Do you suffer from seasonal allergies? Do you get an itchy tongue when you eat bananas or avocados? Does your face flush when you drink red wine?
You may be suffering from a Histamine intolerance.
What exactly is histamine?
Many people associate histamine with unwanted allergies. While histamine in excessive amounts can be troublesome it does play an important role in the the body .Histamine is a chemical which is involved in your immune system, it is also responsible for proper digestion. 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.
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. This is part of the body’s natural immune response, and typically enzymes will break down the histamine so that it doesn’t build up. If for some reason you don’t break down histamine properly, it begins to build up and you develop what we call histamine intolerance.
Histamine travels through your bloodstream, therefore it can affect your gut, lungs, skin, brain, and cardiovascular system, contributing to a wide range of symptoms, and often making a histamine intolerance difficult to pinpoint and diagnose.
There are two main enzymes in the body that break down histamine, one is known as HMT ( N-methyltransferase) and this enzyme deals with histamine in the central nervous system. The other is DAO (diamine oxidase) which is responsible for breaking down histamine in the foods we eat.
When the DAO enzyme activity is deficient it causes histamine to be reabsorbed back into the blood stream causing an excess, which then leads to an allergic reaction. Certain foods and drinks such as energy drinks, alcohol and tea can work as DAO blockers which can cause the excess to occur. Other factors that occur in the body that can cause low DAO activity include, gluten intolerance, Crohn’s, ulcerative colitis, and inflammatory bowel disease, medications such as anti-histamines, anti-inflammatory medications, anti-depressants and immune modulators.
Histamine Intolerance Symptoms:
Difficulty falling asleep
Vertigo or dizziness
Arrhythmia, or accelerated heart rate
Difficulty regulating body temperature
Nasal congestion, sneezing, difficulty breathing
Abnormal menstrual cycle
What are the causes of Histamine Intolerance:
Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO)
Diamine Oxidase (DAO) deficiency
Nutrient deficiencies (B12, folate, B6, B2, B1, Zn, C, methionine)
Allergies (IgE reactions)
High Histamine Foods Include:
Additives and preservatives
Alcohol (particularly beer and wine)
Coffee and tea
Cured and smoked meats and seafood
Histamine-Releasing Foods (to be avoided also)
Many artificial preservatives and dyes
Low Histamine Foods:
Freshly cooked meat or poultry
Wild caught fresh fish
Gluten-free grains such as rice, quinoa, corn, millet, amaranth
Fresh fruits such as mango, pear, watermelon, apple, kiwi, cantaloupe, grapes
Fresh vegetables (aside from tomatoes, spinach, avocado, and eggplant)
Dairy substitutes such as coconut milk, rice milk, hemp milk, almond milk
Cooking oils: olive oil, coconut oil
Top tips to help address histamine intolerance:
Quercetin (antihistamine and anti-inflammatory properties)
Vitamin B6 (increases DAO activity)
Vitamin C (increases histamine metabolism and breakdown)
Vitamin E (may decrease mast cell activation)
Magnesium sulfate (inhibits the release of histamines)
Specific strains of probiotics also support histamine intolerance
Herbs to support include, Albezia, Nettle and turmeric
Eliminate high histamine foods and follow a low histamine diet (as above)
Treat DAO deficiency
Address stress and lifestyle factors
Hopefully this information is helpful and can help you elimate your seasonal allergies and histamine intolerance. Any quesions, as always please reach out.