2nd May 2018
What are histamines?
Histamines are chemicals produced during any allergic response. When an allergen triggers the immune system, mast cells ( a type of white blood cell) release histamines as part of the inflammatory immune reaction. You then see a reaction within your body such as puffy, inflamed eyes, blistery skin rashes, hives or an itchy nose. Histamine is found in two main places – in the body and in our food. As well as being produced during the immune response, histamines can also be absorbed from histamine-containing foods, and produced by bacteria in the gut! It is becoming increasingly more common to have reactions to histamines in recent years.
Yep, back to the good old gut again!
The gut is our second brain and we need to look after it so that reactions to foods can be a thing of the past.
DAO (diamine oxidase), also known as histaminase, is one of the enzymes that breaks down histamine. Some people have mutations of these enzymes and are then not able to break down histamine. When the gut is impaired, it is unable to create sufficient enzymes to handle the histamine load. This results in the histamine building up in the body, triggering mast cells to react.
What are the symptoms?
Sweating, rashing, dizziness and changes in blood pressure (due to histamine realised release? basal dilation can occur which causes a dizzy sensation). Often heartburn or diarrhoea are also symptoms.
How do I know if I have it?
According to Doctor Thomas O’Bryan when you have excess amounts of histamine you are red e.g red cheeks. You are inflammed. He also suggests that if you scratch the skin on your tummy moderately hard three times, one, two, three in the same place, leave it for 30 seconds and then look at it. If it leaves red streaks as scratch marks that’s histamine which means there something in your body that is triggering an immune reaction.
What foods are high in histamine?
- Fermented foods, eg sauerkraut, kombucha
- Matured cheeses
- Smoked or aged meats, eg parma ham
- Beans and pulses, eg chickpeas
- Some nuts, eg peanuts, walnuts, cashew nuts
- Chocolates and other cocoa based products
- Vinegar (watch hidden balsamic vinegar used in dressings)
- Ready meals
- Salty snacks, sweets
- Bone broth that’s been cooked for hours
What can I do?
If you think you may have histamine intolerance, speak to a well qualified health practitioner. You will probably be advised to stick to a low histamine diet and DAO enzymes can be taken as a supplement, but do speak to your practitioner about the protocol.