The low histamine diet is a specialized type of diet that has been scientifically proven to help reduce the symptoms of some people with food sensitivities. It’s important to understand that this isn’t a cure-all, and it might not work for everyone, but many have found relief by following the guidelines. If you’re looking for an alternative or more natural solution than medication, try out the low histamine diet!
What are Histamines?
Histamines are chemicals produced by the immune system to fight off foreign substances such as bacteria or pollen. However, when we’re constantly exposed to these allergens on a daily basis (or worse yet – our bodies produce them), our immune systems may start creating too much histamine which can cause inflammation throughout the body and lead to chronic symptoms like fatigue, joint pain and skin discomfort.
What is Histamine Intolerance (HIT)?
Histamine intolerance (HIT) is a problem with the body’s ability to process histamines. It isn’t an allergy like reactions from bee stings or peanuts, but it does result in some unpleasant symptoms when there are too many of these substances building up within our system and not being broken down as quickly as they should be.
The amount that triggers this reaction varies for each person depending on their total health and wellness.
Histamine intolerance is where the body can’t break down high levels or foods with a lot of natural histamine like seafood, alcohol, cheese etc., so as these foods go into your blood stream they build up to an unbearable level which leads you to have those symptoms mentioned earlier.
Benefits of Low Histamine Diet
The low histamine diet may help people who develop symptoms, such as sneezing, itching or hives in response to foods that contain histamine. This is because it contains a chemical called “histmine” which occurs naturally within the human body and some food products. Histamines can be released at the slightest provocation- even an individual’s own saliva!
It has been shown through research done by Stanford University School of Medicine that most individuals with allergies have high levels of mast cells (MCs) found near nerves throughout their bodies. Mast Cells are responsible for releasing inflammatory mediators when they detect allergens nearby – like pollen on someone walking down your street towards you!
A recent Italian study found interesting results when participants were asked to remove certain high-histamine foods from their diets and replaced them with low-, moderate-, or high-histamine alternatives: those who eliminated these types of food had noticeable improvement over time; however this was only true if they didn’t have any other gastrointestinal diseases.
Foods To Avoid With Higher Levels of Histamine
The following foods have high amounts of histamine and should be avoided if you are looking to lower the amount of histamine in your body.
- Paremsan Cheese
- Fermented Products
- Aged Cheese
- Processed Meats such as salami
- Beans and Pulses
- Ready made meals
- Salty Snacks
Foods that release histamine (histamine releasers):
- Cocoa and chocolate
- Walnuts, peanuts
- Most citrus fruits – lemon, lime, oranges…
- Papaya, pineapples, plums, kiwi and bananas
- Wheat germ
- Most vinegars
- Additives – benzoate, sulphites, nitrites, glutamate, food dyes
Foods You Can Eat
In general, the following foods are low in histamine, and therefore part of a typical low histamine diet:
- Fresh Meat
- Fresh Fruits (except for those mentioned above)
- Vegetables (except for those mentioned above)
- Fresh milk and milk products
- Cooking oils
- leafy herbs
- Herbal teas
Other Foods to Watch Out For
There are other foods which you should also avoid. This is not because they have high levels of histamine, but because they block the diamine oxidase (DAO) enzyme. DAO is responsible for helping to break down histamine in the body:
- Energy Drinks
- Black tea
- possibly yoghurt
- possibly egg white
What You Can Do
If you suspect you or your child may be affected by high histamine foods, you can focus on minimising the foods to avoid and the foods that block the DAO enzyme. After a few weeks, you may notice the symptoms lessen as a result.
For particularly acute cases, it is recommended to get a full account of your diet and consult a GP or dietician to help map out your food intake for a month. After a month you should be have some relief from high histamine levels in your system.