Histamines and why you must pay attention to working with them
Histamines – Why must you pay attention to working with them?
Growing up, I always heard the term antihistamine. I knew and had a fair idea when we got allergies, we were given anti-histamines. Histamines then can back into my life when I got on the Macrobiotic path, and I started using fermented foods for my clients. I knew that fermented foods had histamines, and someone intolerant of histamines would not be able to consume them. I did not use a test to determine this, but I knew the reactions to watch out for, once I introduced them into a person's diet. So, I'd immediately take them off these foods.
What are histamines?
Histamines are chemicals made by your immune system. They help the body offload stuff that is not wanted around, in many cases, an allergic reaction to something, throws up histamines. Whenever your immune system feels threatened, they are thrown up. The result of these being released is inflammation.
Symptoms of histamine intolerance
1. Recurring cough
3. Itchy skin
4. Itchy eyes.
5. Frequent headaches
6. Running nose
7. Sinus issues
8. Digestive problems
12. High blood pressure
Cause of high histamine levels
Histamine comes along with Diamine Oxidase (DAO) which comes from the digestive tract and Histamine N-methyltransferase (HNMT) from the enteral nervous system (CNS), both enzymes that help breakdown of histamine. If you are deficient in this enzyme, then there is a chance you will be intolerant to histamine-rich foods.
Poor gut health has a lot to do with developing histamine intolerance, and I see this a lot amongst my clients. For example, some with gluten intolerance can affect DAO levels.
Food and Histamines
Since my area of expertise lies in the food arena. I have to keep a close watch on my clients and if they throw up a reaction to food. The first 10 days of a client's program are crucial, as this is the time, they will possibly have the maximum reactions. Depending on their health condition, this could last for a while or will die down, once the foods introduced start strengthening their immunity.
1. Fermented foods
3. Dried fruits
4. Processed and cured meats
7. Aged cheese
Foods that could release histamines
4. Wheat germ
7. Nuts: Walnuts, cashews, peanuts
8. Some beans
How do you deal with histamine intolerance (HI)?
1. Start by eliminating foods that would cause histamine to be released in your body
2. Test yourself for Histamine intolerance
3. Take DAO supplements
4. Eat a diet that is low in histamine
5. IgG test to rule out food allergies
6. If you have a chronic gut issue, get it diagnosed (colonoscopy, endoscopy)
The way to work towards being histamine tolerant is to actually only strengthen the gut and thereby immunity, so you can eventually eat all foods
Histamine-free diet plan
1. Stay off sugars, sugary foods, refined carbohydrates; colas, sodas, soft drinks; hidden sugars in packaged foods and processed foods.
2. Complex carbohydrates are a good source of sugars and fibre, and also promote the smooth functioning of the digestive tract; ensuring proper waste elimination. Here, I cannot emphasize the necessity of whole grains from brown/red rice to any good millet that aids with the amounts of antioxidants and anti-ageing benefits (brown rice alone has 70 anti-ageing antioxidants). The residual fibre will feed the gut bacteria.
3. Good quality protein helps you stay satiated, and keep blood sugars stable. Protein also maintains our muscles; your intestinal lining has muscle fibres; this means lean protein if you eat fish and meats and plant-based protein if you are a vegetarian/vegan. Excess protein (animal protein) is not good for you, so balance it with vegetables and greens. We don’t want those pathways in the body getting blocked we must maintain the quality of blood being clean and not toxic.
4. Vegetables, not only have good quality fibre; especially coloured vegetables that have plenty of beta carotene that converts to Vitamin A to repair skin (of the gut lining). Plus, leafy greens and green vegetables (also in the form of barley grass or wheat grass), mimic the blood structure and are necessary for cleansing the blood and the much-needed chlorophyll they provide.
5. Fruits again provide a plethora of vitamins and antioxidants to help gut repair.
6. Just the right amount of water or liquids as too much will loosen and expand our tissues, a lot of water comes from the foods you eat. An excess of liquids puts pressure on the kidneys, bladder and sweat glands as well; making us tired over time. We need just enough, one way of measuring this is to ask ourselves: are we thirsty?
7. Adding sea vegetables like spirulina helps in detoxification, vitamins, protein, minerals and antioxidants.
8. Add supplements like B12, calcium, zinc, magnesium, vitamin C, vitamin B6 and B1
9. Keep a food diary
It may take up to 1-4 months to become tolerant of histamine-rich foods and strengthen immunity.