Histamine, a part of the body’s biological defense system, is also found in many common dietary sources: fermented foods, fish, meat, cheese, vinegar, alcohol, and some fruits and vegetables. Other foods contain histidine, which is converted to histamine during digestion by certain bacteria in the gut.
At healthy levels and in the right places, histamine is needed for a normal digestive process and sleep-wake cycle, and for a functioning immune system. On the other hand, too much histamine can cause unpleasant side effects like rashes, itching, stuffy nose, swelling, headache and gastrointestinal complaints. A healthy gut is a key factor in normal histamine metabolism and healthy histamine levels throughout the body.
The reason why excess histamine is not able to get eliminated from the body by some people may below levels of DAO (enzyme responsible for Histamine degradation) (1). This may be genetic or due to intestinal bacterial overgrowth, dysbiosis which is associated with the inflammation of the gut wall, damaging the cells that produce DAO or lack of vitamins such as B6, B12, iron, copper and vitamin C or eating many foods high in histamine. Symptoms such as redness of face while drinking wine, hives, itching and digestive issues indicate possible histamine intolerance.
Including foods rich in omega 3, such as flaxseed, chia seeds, flaxseed oil, oily fish (salmon, trout) helps slow down the production of substances that are released during the inflammatory response (2) A low histamine food may help support the symptoms of possibly excess histamine. A study showed that the histamine level in foods can change according to the cooking method used to prepare it. In the study, frying and grilling seems to increase histamine level in foods, whereas boiling had little influence or even decreased it (3).
Tips to consider –
1. Planning meals in advance
2. Buying fresh food, shopping more often if necessary
3. Eating foods as soon as possible after purchase
4. Asking restaurants about their ingredients when eating out
5. Keeping a food journal to record symptoms and triggers because everyone has their own threshold; you will be aiming to find yours by observing your symptoms and triggers and noting them down.
1.Histamine Intolerance: The current state of the art.
2. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
3. Effect of Different Cooking Methods on Histamine Levels in Selected Foods