Are you confused by symptoms triggered by unidentifiable causes? Do you suspect that it may be related to your food? Getting checked by your doctor may be a good idea, as your symptoms could be caused by histamine intolerance.
Histamine is an important messaging molecule, a biogenic amine that some cells use to communicate. It is generally found in all kinds of plants and animals, and our body also produces it. Histamine is best known for its role in the body’s allergic response.
Normally, histamine lives fast and dies young, and degraded by diamino-oxidase enzyme (DAO). However, sometimes the production of DAO, or DAO activity is reduced, and as a result, the constant higher level of histamine causes allergy-like symptoms and other discomforts from mild to severe.
What are the symptoms of histamine intolerance?
• Headache, flushing
• Rash, hives, eczema
• Irregular heart beat, low blood pressure
• Runny nose, watery eyes
• Swelling of face, hands, lips
As you can see, histamine intolerance is very elusive. But if the suspicion is confirmed and histamine intolerance is identified as a cause, a change of diet can make wonders.
After your doctor confirmed the diagnosis (the level of DAO can be tested), start a food diary to monitor your reactions on specific food. The food diary will show you your reactions to certain foods so you can make the necessary changes to your diet. The amount of histamine tolerated must be deduced by trial and error. Just keep in mind, you know your individual symptoms and what triggers them.
Tolerance to histamine varies from person to person. Some people can only tolerate very small amounts and others can be moretolerant. That's why various websites show slightly different lists of allowed food.
Of course, the general diet rules help you a lot at the beginning, so I did some research on this topic to help you.
In the first stage
of the diet, you should keep a strict elimination diet. After about 2-4 weeks you should notice a positive change.
- Avoid eating canned foods, ready meals, and fast foods
- Avoid fermented and aged or stale food!
- As much as possible, buy and eat fresh products
- Avoid preservatives and additives
- Vitamin C, vitamin B6, and copper can all increase DAO activity
- Learn to cook! This way, you will be able to convert your recipes to histamine-friendly dishes.
What should you eat during this time?
Here is a list of low-histamine level foods:
- Fresh meat or chicken (cooled, frozen, or fresh)
- Egg yolk (without the egg white!)
- Fresh pasteurised milk and milk products (but no fermented/aged dairy products)
- Milk substitutes (coconut milk, rice milk)
- Cream cheese, mascarpone, mozzarella, ricotta, butter
- Most cooking oils (e.g. olive oil, coconut oil, sunflower oil)
- Most leafy herbs (e.g. basil, savory, cumin, turmeric, marjoram, rosemary, dill)
- Grains (rice, corn, sorghum, yeast-free ryes, bread oats, millet flour, spelt- and corn-based pastas)
For fresh fruits, juices, and vegetables, watch the histamine-liberator group below, which is not listed, it is allowed to be eaten.
High histamine level foods, histamine liberators, and diamine oxidase blockers achieve the same effect: increase the histamine level in your blood. So avoid them initially. Later, you can try them in small quantities per portion, and not more than one of them at the same time.
High histamine level foods
- Pickled or canned foods
- Matured cheeses
- Smoked meat products (salami, ham, sausages)
- Fish (according to some sources, freshly caught ones are OK)
- Beans and pulses
- Chocolates and other cocoa-based products
- Most citric and exotic fruits (kiwi, lemon, lime, pineapple, mango, papaya)
- Strawberry (according to some sources, every type of berry)
- Cocoa and chocolate
- Beans and pulses
- Spinach, cabbage
- Wheat germ
- Additives (benzoate, sulphites, nitrites, glutamate, food dyes)
- Some spices (pepper, peppercorn, hot paprica, mustard, chilli, curry, soy sauce)
Diamine Oxidase (DAO) blockers:
- Alcohol, energy drinks, and some kind of tea (black, green, mate)
Last but not the least, I have collected some recipes from Sophie’s World, which you can eat.
If the meal contains pepper, you should change it to savory. If there is some hot paprika in the recipe, you can use sweet paprika instead.
Let’s cook it!
Oven roasted pork shoulder in pan (You know, without pepper, with savory.)
Chicken legs baked in fat (No need to change anything)
Farewell to summer vegetables (Just leave out parmesan)
Parsnip chips (It is good as it is)
Oven baked chips (Parsnip chips alternative)
Caramelized potatoes (Replace black pepper!)
Vegetarian pumpkin cream soup (The tolerance to nutmeg varies. At the beginning of the diet, rather leave it out)