Do you flush in the face after eating certain foods or even after consuming alcohol?
I Chapter 1 of my book, Your Longevity Blueprint, I dig deep into histamine issues, but I’ll give you a sneak preview here today!
In my past blogs, I discussed food sensitivities. However, having a histamine intolerance is actually different than having these sensitivities.
For instance, a patient may not test positive to avocado from an IgG standpoint (an avocado sensitivity), but if they become itchy or flush after eating it, they should still avoid it. Remember, this reaction could be separate from IgG (separate from what we call a food sensitivity). It could even be an IgE reaction. If food testing doesn’t show any reaction, I question whether there’s a poor immune system—maybe a low total IgA, or possibly…. a histamine intolerance.
Histamine is a chemical involved in regulating physiological functions—such as digestion in the gut—as well as in immune responses, and can also act as a neurotransmitter. Histamine triggers the inflammatory response. It is produced by basophils and by mast cells found in connective tissues, and is released in response to foreign pathogens. “Histamine causes your blood vessels to swell, or dilate, so that your white blood cells can quickly find and attack the infection or problem. The histamine buildup is what gives you a headache and leaves you feeling flushed, itchy and miserable. This is part of the body’s natural immune response, but if you don’t break down histamine properly, you could develop what we call histamine intolerance” (Myers 2013).
In the body, histamine must be stored or broken down by an enzyme. Histamine in the central nervous system is broken down primarily by histamine N-methyltransferase (HMT), while histamine in the digestive tract is broken down primarily by diamine oxidase (DAO). If you’re deficient in DAO, you are at a greater likelihood to have symptoms of histamine intolerance. Foods that either naturally contain histamine or block the enzyme that breaks it down (diamine oxidase) can cause symptoms in many patients.
Below contains a list of histamine-rich and histamine-releasing foods that patients can avoid if they suspect histamine is causing problems:
In my own experience, I noticed my flushing greatly reduced after I went on a strictly gluten-free diet. Why? Gluten blocks DAO. Very interestingly, although one might think that histamine-blocking medication would help prevent histamine intolerance, these medications can actually deplete DAO levels in your body, worsening the issue. Other medications that can deplete DAO include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), antidepressants, antihistamines, histamine blockers, immune modulators, and antiarrhythmics (Myers 2013). Foods that block DAO include alcohol, energy drinks, and black and green teas. Low DAO can also be caused by gluten intolerance, leaky gut, SIBO, inflammatory diseases of the bowels, and genetics.
If you think you may have histamine intolerance, get tested.
Dunwoody Labs in Dunwoody, Georgia, can test you for histamine and DAO levels. A high ratio of histamine/DAO indicates that you are ingesting too much histamine and that you don’t have enough DAO to break it down. Also, try eliminating high-histamine foods for thirty days and reintroducing them one at a time, monitoring how you feel. Try taking DAO with meals. This may give you a glimpse into the issues, and, if your symptoms resolve, you could have low DAO. You may have taken an antihistamine or histamine blocker if you’ve suffered from seasonal allergies. Common names for these drugs are Allegra, Zyrtec, and even Benadryl. Find out if you have gluten sensitivity or SIBO and get off drugs that can reduce DAO. If you struggle with histamine intolerance, then what foods can you eat? Above is a list off high histamine foods to avoid and of low-histamine foods that should be safer options.
The Low Histamine Chef, Jasmina Ykelenstam, at lowhistaminechef.com, and the mindbodygreen.com website, are two excellent resources for people dealing with histamine issues.
Still not sure if you have food sensitivities? When you purchase my book you can download your free bonuses including a pdf full of questionnaires for problems like food sensitivities, histamine intolerance, and even yeast overgrowth.
Check out my next blog on ridding your body from yeast overgrowth!