Understanding Histamine Intolerance
Food is an absolute pleasure for most of us. But if we’re not careful enough, a fulfilling and pleasurable meal can quickly turn to a very uncomfortable situation. Anyone can suffer from histamine intolerance. And if you happen to experience it at a bad time, it may take a while before the uncomfortable feeling leaves you alone. But what exactly is histamine intolerance? How can you get it? How do you know it’s what exactly you’re feeling at the moment? Find out everything you need to know right here:
What is Histamine Intolerance
Histamine intolerance is usually confused with food allergies. Some people also think that histamine intolerance happens because of the slightest encounter with histamine. But that’s not entirely true. Histamine intolerance occurs when your body develops too much of the compound.
What is Histamine
Aside from being associated with the very inconvenient histamine intolerance, this organic element does many good things for living organisms. This organic nitrogenous compound can be found in humans as well as other animals. It also plays significant roles in the body, like communicating messages to the brain.
Histamine is responsible for triggering the release of stomach acid when it’s time to digest. Its other roles include keeping control of blood pressure, memory, controlling pain and appetite, and keeping your mood in check.
How Histamine Intolerance Happens
We already know how much help our body gets from histamine. But that is if it’s working under normal conditions. If it reaches abnormal levels or fails to break down properly, normal bodily functions can go haywire.
Signs of Histamine Intolerance
If you ever get too much histamine, you may be able to experience some symptoms similar to allergic reactions. Some of these symptoms can include:
- Sinus problems
- Digestive Problems
Women may also experience irregular menstrual cycles. But for more severe cases, the signs may be:
- Tissue Swells
- Irregular Heart Rate
- High Blood Pressure
- Abdominal cramps
There are also less common symptoms like these:
- Problem with sleeping
- Lips, throat, and eyes may swell up
- May suddenly lose consciousness
What Causes Abnormal Levels of Histamine
Histamine is naturally produced in the body. Along with histamine is the compound called diamine oxidase or DAO. The DAO’s job is to break down all the histamine you take from the food items you consume. If there is a lack of DAO body, histamine from the food you eat can be too much for the DAO to handle. This lack of DAO can lead to histamine intolerance.
Possible Causes Why There’s A Lack of DAO in the Body
You may be taking meds or supplements that prevent DAO production. It’s best to ask your doctor if you suffer any side effects from any meds you’re taking.
- Gastrointestinal Problems
Stomach and bowel movement problems may be causing your body to produce less DAO than necessary.
If you’ve been taking too much food rich in histamine, your body may not be able to keep up with it. The DAO that your body produces can only handle so much histamine. If you overeat, the DAO may not be able to handle it. Also, there are food choices that can block your body’s production of DAO.
Where Can You Get Histamine
Aside from being a natural compound in the body, you can also get histamine from different food items. If taken in large amounts, it may contribute to histamine intolerance. Here are some of the common food choices you would want to avoid if you’re worried about getting too much histamine.
- Fermented drinks like alcohol
- Dairy products like yogurt
- Fermented and pickled food items
- Dried fruits
- Canned fish products like tuna and mackerel
- Smoked meat products
- Processed meat products
- Chili Powder
- Cocoa and cocoa products
- Salty snacks
- Aged cheese
Aside from the food items naturally rich in histamine, there are those that aid in the release of more histamine. These food items are:
- Wheat germ
- Food additives like flavoring and food dye
- Chocolate products
- Citrus fruits like lemon
You may also want to avoid food choices that restrict the production of DAO. These can include:
- Black tea
- Energy drinks
- Mate tea
- Green tea
- Raw egg whites
- Yogurt that has particular bacteria in it
Yogurts with particular species of bacteria mixed into it may help produce histamine in the stomach. If enough of this product is taken in, the bacteria can grow enough histamine for the person to experience symptoms.
Food Items Free from Histamine
Since there are food items rich in histamine, there are also those free from it. Here are some of them:
- Fresh fish and meat
- Non-citrus fruits
- Olive oil and other cooking oils
- Fresh vegetables except those mentioned above (tomatoes, eggplants, spinach, and avocado)
- Gluten-free grains (rice and quinoa)
- Pasteurized or fresh milk
- Rice milk
- Whole-grain bread and crackers
- Pasta and noodles
- Cooked egg yolk
Almost all food items and beverages have histamine but not on equal levels. However, regardless of how much histamine it has, the level can increase over time when the food or beverage spoils, ferments, or ages. Health researchers are still trying to figure out just how much histamine is in each food and drink.
Other Reasons You May Be Suffering from Histamine Intolerance
Aside from the food you eat and possible lack of DAO, there are other reasons you may be suffering from histamine intolerance. Some of these possible reasons are listed below:
- Deficiency of vitamin C, vitamin B-6, zinc or copper
- Extreme stress
- Extreme temperature from the immediate environment
- Liver problems
When the gut is faced with too much histamine, it can leak and go to the bloodstream. Here, they will cause an immune response. The more histamine-rich food a person consumes, the worse the symptoms can be.
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Rosell-Camps A, Zibetti S, Pérez-Esteban G, Vila-Vidal M, Ferrés-Ramis L, García-Teresa-García E. Histamine intolerance as a cause of chronic digestive complaints in pediatric patients. Rev Esp Enferm Dig. 2013;105(4):201-206. doi:10.4321/s1130-01082013000400004