Which foods are low and high in histamine?
Histamine is an inflammatory compound that helps your immune system fight infections.
It is produced when you are exposed to an allergen, and your body attempts to get rid of it.
This compound is also a component of stomach acid, which is what helps you break down food in the stomach.
Additionally, histamine is involved in your central nervous system and your immune system.
Histamine intolerance usually results from a disequilibrium of the capacity for histamine degradation and accumulated histamine.
Diamine oxidase (DAO) is the primary enzyme that is needed for the metabolism of ingested histamine.
About 1% of the population experiences histamine intolerance, either due to a lack of enzymes necessary to remove histamine from the system or unusually high levels of histamine in the body.
Common factors that interfere with diamine oxidase levels include the following:
- temperature extremes;
- alcoholic beverages;
- injury or trauma;
- low oxygen states;
- chronic emotional stress;
- a deficiency in vitamin C, vitamin B6, zinc, or copper;
- liver conditions;
- intestinal conditions that compromise the gut lining.
In addition, many prescription drugs may interfere with DAO, such as:
- tuberculosis medications;
- airway medications, like – theophylline;
- malaria drugs;
- heart medications;
- gastroesophageal reflux disease;
- over-the-counter and prescription NSAIDs and painkillers, like – naproxen, diclofenac (Voltaren), indomethacin (Indocin), or acetylsalicylic acid (aspirin);
- gastrointestinal medicines;
- muscle relaxants;
Diamine Oxidase Blocking Foods List
Diamine oxidase is the main enzyme for the metabolism of ingested histamine.
When histamine is not broken down by the body and is absorbed, it can lead to a variety of symptoms.
DAO-blocking foods and drinks include:
- green tea;
- mate tea (the national drink of Argentina that is also known as cimarrón or chimarrão);
- black tea;
- energy drinks.
Histamine intolerance can mimic a variety of the symptoms of an allergic reaction and may range from mild to severe.
Common symptoms include:
- tissue swelling;
- sudden skin redness;
- redness and itching on the body;
- abdominal pains;
- abnormal menstrual cycle;
- difficulty breathing;
- nasal congestion;
- heart palpitations;
- difficulty regulating body temperature;
- swollen lips;
- accelerated heart rate;
- red eyes;
- drop in blood pressure;
- high blood pressure;
- difficulty falling asleep;
- chronic runny nose;
- menstrual problems.
There are no reliable tests that healthcare professionals can use to diagnose histamine intolerance.
If histamine intolerance is suspected, a low-histamine diet is recommended.
Food High In Histamine
Foods and drinks high in histamine include:
- tomato ketchup;
- fish sauces;
- fish – mackerel, tuna, anchovies, sardines, mahi-mahi, herring;
- fermented grains, like sourdough bread;
- fermented soy products, like miso, tempeh, natto, and soy sauce;
- fermented ham;
- aged cheese;
- most citrus fruits;
- dried hot pepper;
- dried raisins;
- dried figs;
- dried goji berries;
- dried dates;
- dried apricots;
- sour milk;
- sour cream;
- pickled veggies;
- hot dogs;
- luncheon meats;
Histamine-releasing foods include:
- food additives, like preservatives, colorants, flavorings, and stabilizers;
- egg whites;
Low Histamine Foods
According to studies, reducing histamine-rich foods in the regular diet dramatically reduces the symptoms of histamine intolerance.
Low histamine foods include:
- coconut oil;
- herbal teas;
- leafy herbs;
- olive oil;
- homemade almond milk;
- homemade hemp milk;
- homemade rice milk;
- homemade coconut milk;
- fresh vegetables (except spinach, tomatoes, eggplant, and avocado);
- acorn squash;
- swiss chard;
- summer squash;
- bell pepper;
- bok choy;
- Brussels sprouts;
- sweet potatoes;
- butternut squash;
- cooked eggs;
- freshly-caught fish;
- freshly cooked poultry or meat.
There are some natural remedies that can help improve diamine oxidase activity.
Butterbur is a natural antihistamine that has been used for centuries in Europe.
In randomized clinical trials, butterbur has been shown to work as well as Allegra, Claritin, and Zyrtec.
Butterbur is sold in a number of forms, including:
Note – if you have a ragweed allergy, butterbur is cross-reactive and should be avoided.
Ubiquinol is a reduced version of the coenzyme.
It is used for energy production and is important for a variety of processes, including diamine oxidase activity.
Holy basil (scientific name – Ocimum tenuiflorum) is an aromatic perennial plant in the family Lamiaceae.
It is a natural antihistamine as well as it helps with anxiety, emotional stress, and adrenal dysfunction.
Quercetin with Bromelain
Quercetin is an antioxidant found in many fruits and vegetables. Bromelain is an enzyme found in pineapple and papayas. When quercetin is mixed with bromelain, it becomes an even more potent diamine oxidase-booster.
Note – quercetin is not well absorbed, therefore, it should be taken several times throughout the day and about twenty minutes before a meal.
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Probiotics are live yeasts and bacteria that have numerous health benefits.
Two species that are especially helpful for histamine intolerance include Bifidobacterium longum and Lactobacillus rhamnosus.
Nigella Sativa Oil
This oil comes from black cumin seeds. These seeds have been widely used for hundreds of years in the treatment of different ailments throughout the world.
Nigella sativa oil is helpful if you are dealing with nasal congestion due to histamine intolerance.
Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin that is found in many types of plant-based foods. It is necessary for the development, growth, and repair of all body tissues.
In addition, this vitamin is the co-factor for alcohol dehydrogenase, a type of enzyme which breaks down histamine.
Note – it is suggested to supplement with about 2 grams a day.
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It is required to help make FAD (flavin adenine dinucleotide), the co-factor for diamine oxidase. Hence, it is thought to be helpful with histamine intolerance.
These supplements are designed to enhance the breakdown of histamine within the contents of the digestive canal and to increase the diamine oxidase in the digestive tract.
This actually means that supplementing with the diamine oxidase enzyme only helps you to break histamine down, which you are consuming.
Note – the supplements are derived from a porcine source, therefore, if you are allergic to pork, it is best to avoid them.
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- folic acid (the synthetic form of folate) increases histamine levels, hence, it should be avoided by individuals whose histamine levels are high;
- avoid fermented foods, like wine, cheese, fermented sausages, vinegar, sauerkraut, and soy sauce, as they naturally contain high levels of histamine;
- cut down on additives as they can contribute to histamine being released in your body;
- take steps, like increasing water and dietary intake, to prevent constipation;
- ensure your food is as fresh as possible and throw out the left-overs in the fridge;
- avoid eating overripe vegetables and fruits.