When there is a build-up of histamine in the body, we feel allergic to the universe. Life is absolutely miserable. We don’t know why this happens and doctors don’t really seem to be much help. They do a blood test, tell you it is clinically high, or only a little high, and then don’t give you much direction tas to how to improve your symptoms. It’s beyond frustrating.
Symptoms of Histamine Intolerance
- Foods can only be tolerated for a couple of weeks at a time before reacting to them
- Stomach cramps
- Nausea (typically random. One day you’re fine with avocado and the next you’re not)
- Alternating diarrhea and constipation
- Headaches and migraines
- Sinus issues
- Constant itchy, watery eyes
- Severe “seasonal” allergies
- Irregular menstrual cycle
- Inability to regulate body temperature
There’s no rhyme or reason and you’re just over it. You want your life back.
How Does Histamine Build Up in the Body
The biggest question is how does this even happen?! What caused this to happen in the first place?
Really it’s a domino effect. The first thing that happened is your intestinal lining became compromised and your microbiome went out of balance. This led to nutritional deficiencies that led to enzyme deficiencies and thus the ability to process out excessive histamine was hindered. That enzyme is called DAO. Without high enough levels of it, histamine started increasing in the body and has been causing a host of symptoms that hit randomly. Your body could no longer keep up and now every day feels like Russian Roulette. You just never know what your body will like and dislike today. You feel taken hostage.
Luckily, you have more control over this than you think. When you know what went wrong and what’s missing, you now have the ability to take your power back. Here’s how.
3 Ways to Reduce Histamine in the Body
#1 Start taking a DAO supplement
I typically like to start with food first but in this case, you need a lot of extra help. One reason histamine is getting to such high levels is a lack of DAO. DAO is the enzyme needed to break down histamine. You don’t have enough of it so you need to supplement for a time while you work on healing your gut, balancing your microbiome, and getting the proper nutrition.
#2 Eliminate High Histamine, Histamine Releasing, and DAO Blocking Foods
Until you can help the body rebalance, you’ll want to dramatically reduce and/or eliminate the following foods for 3-6 months.
- Aged cheeses including goat cheese
- Cured meats: bacon, salami, pepperoni, luncheon meats, and hot dogs
- Dried fruit: apricots, prunes, dates, figs, raisins
- Fermented alcoholic beverages, especially wine, champagne, and beer
- Fermented foods: pickles, olives, sauerkraut, vinegar, soy sauce, kefir, yogurt, kombucha, etc.
- Most citrus fruits
- Nuts: walnuts, cashews
- Soured foods: sour cream, sour milk, buttermilk, soured bread, etc.
- Smoked fish and certain species of fish including mackerel, mahi-mahi, tuna, anchovies, sardines
- Vinegar and vinegar containing foods
- Artificial preservatives and dyes
- Cow’s milk
- Nuts: walnuts and cashews
- Wheat germ
- Caffeine rich drinks including black green and mate teas
- Energy drinks
Along with all this, you’ll also need to stop eating leftovers from the fridge. Histamine doubles every hour after being cooked so your choices are to eat everything extremely fresh, or meal prep and freeze all your meals then reheat when it’s time to eat. You do not want to buy pre-chopped and prepared foods that have not been frozen during this time. (Thank goodness this is a temporary diet!) If you’d like a done-for-you meal plan with shopping lists and recipes, I have one here to help you get started much more easily.
#3 Heal Your Gut
For you to truly recover from this permanently you’re going to have to do some work to heal your gut. I would start by watching this workshop on Leaky Gut so that you understand what causes it and how to fix it. Then from there, I would recommend incorporating a soil-based probiotic, l-glutamine, and collagen powder to help restore your gut along with the low histamine diet. For dosages, I recommend consulting with a Functional Medicine or Naturopathic Doctor. There’s a big difference between a maintenance dose and therapeutic dose and you want to make sure you get it right.
While it will take some effort for a few months, it will be well worth it.