When you hear the word histamine, do you instantly think of seasonal allergies? Like those sneezes that inevitably come with spring when the pollen count is so high that your eyes are itchy and your nose is running. You aren’t wrong to think of allergies when you hear “histamine” — but I also want to let you in on how histamines play a role in your food, and how they might be a problem for you.
Histamines are found in foods, with fermented foods among those with the highest in histamine content. Things like vinegar, yogurt, kimchi, soy products, canned foods, aged cheeses, processed meats, legumes, and alcohol all have the highest histamines. For most people, your body produces DAO, an enzyme that breaks down any excess histamine. Some don’t produce enough DAO to fully break down excess histamine in foods, which can lead to allergy-like symptoms.
Read this post on the ‘5 Food Sensitivities & Symptoms You Might Encounter‘ to learn some more about histamines and foods.
Those with gut health issues
If your gut function isn’t up to speed, it can impact the production of the DAO enzymes and won’t break down histamine properly. If you have coeliac, Crohn’s, IBS, or other digestive issues, you may have reactions to histamines in the foods you eat.
Having a DAO deficiency
Sometimes it’s genetics, while other times, it’s medications that can contribute to a lack of DAO enzymes. Therefore, it’s not always something we can control, but being aware of it is helpful. Whenever a DAO deficiency is present, the result is excess histamine in your system.
Vitamin and mineral deficiencies
If you’re not eating enough foods that have vitamin C or B6, zinc, or copper, you might have reactions to histamines in your food.
For those in these groups, you may have allergy-like symptoms when eating foods high in histamine. Fortunately, the number of people in these groups is very rare. Still, if you are in that minority, you should have a chat with your practitioner.
To experiment, you can go on a low-histamine regime for a short time, which will help build up your immunity and gut health. This should help to set things straight, but in the meantime, eliminating high-histamine foods and foods that inhibit your DAO enzymes can be beneficial for you.
You could try an experiment to see how you feel without high-histamine foods in your diet. After a month, you’ll slowly begin to reintroduce those high-histamine foods back in one at a time. While it may feel restrictive, the good news is that you can learn so much about your body with experimental elimination diets such as this. Once you learn to tune in and get to know how your body feels, how it responds to things, what’s normal and what isn’t for your unique body — you’ll begin to uncover what works BEST for you so you can live your optimal life full of energy and vibrancy.
Have you noticed any foods that simply don’t work for you?
Let me know in the comments what those foods are for you.
For me, the main culprits are any dairy and legumes.
If you believe that histamines might be an issue for you and want to trial a low-histamine diet HERE is a great tool to help you identify low and high histamine foods.