The Low Histamine Diet
Hippocrates, one of the most famous Greek physicians, once said, “Let food be thy medicine and let thy medicine be food”. This was way back in 440 BC, therefore, managing symptoms through diet is nothing new and there’s a reason that wisdom has stood the test of time. Simple as it seems, food is one of the powerful ways we can manage symptoms, boost immunity, and heal ourselves of many ailments.
If you suffer from any kind of allergenic responses, or if the hay-fever season means misery for you, then The Low Histamine diet may be something to try if you want some help to alleviate those pesky, unwanted symptoms. Regular over-the-counter antihistamines can help, for sure, however, there are other natural ways to eliminate excess histamine from the body.
The added bonus? The Low Histamine Diet can also help with bloating, headaches, and digestive troubles, so whilst it’s not a ‘cure-all’, it can definitely make a discernible difference to how you feel. Worth a try, right?
But first of all, let’s consider what histamine is, what it does, and what it means to be histamine intolerant.
What exactly is histamine?
Histamine is a chemical found naturally in all cells of our body, and it is an important component of the immune and nervous system. We all need a certain amount of histamine because it helps our bodies to deal with or get rid of stuff that is bothersome to our system. Think of it like the bouncer that keeps the troublemakers out of the club. HIstamine is not bad, it’s when it gets a little tetchy and over-zealous towards allergens that things get tricky.
When your immune system has been triggered, histamine generates an inflammatory response, which can manifest as swelling, itching, rashes and watery eyes. These are signs that histamine is doing its thing to get that allergen out of the body, but if histamine affects the nervous system it may cause problems such as headaches, digestive problems and pain. A mild annoyance, can turn into a real drag.
What is Histamine Intolerance?
Histamine intolerance (HIT) isn’t a true allergy like we see with bee stings or peanuts. Histamine intolerance is simply a mismatch between too much histamine in the body and the speed at which the body clears it. If too much histamine is released, or if it is not broken down fast enough, a person doesn’t feel well.
Some people are more prone to having high levels of histamine owing to various factors (such as compromised gut health, certain medications, and genetics), so there’s no one set cause, and there is currently no reliable test to definitively diagnose HIT, but… the good news is that it can be managed.
How so? Well, your body naturally produces histamine alongside an enzyme called Diamine Oxidase (DAO). DAO is another of your body’s super-smart little helpers, as it helps to break down histamine that you ingest from the food you eat. This means that you can actually lower your histamine levels naturally through diet.
What is The Low Histamine Diet?
The basic concept of the Low Histamine Diet is to consume foods that are low in histamine, and avoid foods that are high in histamine or that block the release of DAO enzyme. Remember, histamine isn’t bad, so we don’t want to eradicate it, it just has to be kept under control.
The goal of this diet is to lower histamine levels in your body so that you are less likely to have an allergenic response, hence, you’re likely to feel better both physically and mentally.
The Low Histamine Diet doesn’t entail complicated meal plans, or involve weighing and measuring foods, it just means making a few tweaks here and there so that you can support your body’s optimum health. It may be you only need to make a few swaps to some of your favourite recipes.
Some foods we recommend you avoid, may at first seem counterintuitive because they are often touted as “healthy”, but what’s “healthy” for one person isn’t always the same for another. After all, if you’re allergic to fish, then fish isn’t “healthy” for you and if you suffer from kidney stones then spinach, beets and raspberries aren’t “healthy” for you.
Every body is different, so this isn’t an exhaustive list of good and bad foods, it’s simply a list of some key foods that “hinder” or “help” if you suffer from allergies and HIT.
Foods to avoid:
- Drinks: Alcohol (especially beer, cider and wine. sorry!), Black tea and Green Tea, Energy drinks, Fermented drinks (such as kombucha and kefir),
- Fruits: citrus fruits, bananas, tomatoes, papaya and dried fruit
- Vegetables: ripe avocados, spinach, eggplant
- Protein: Processed and smoked meats, Shellfish,
- Fermented foods (such as kimchi and sauerkraut)
- Dairy- cow’s milk, ice-cream, etc.
Foods to enjoy:
- Drinks: Stinging nettle tea (a natural antihistamine!)
- Vegetables: Broccoli, onions, garlic (these contain Quercetin, another natural antihistamine), cabbage, capers, cauliflower, cos lettuce, firm avocado, and, zucchini
- Sprouts: Alfalfa sprouts, broccoli sprouts, radish sprouts
- Herbs: Basil, marjoram, oregano, tarragon
- Protein: Duck eggs, grass fed chicken, grass fed duck, grass fed lamb, grass fed veal, white flesh fish
- Grains: gluten-free grains such as Quinoa and rice
- Fats: Coconut oil, ghee, hemp oil, macadamia oil, olive oil
- Nuts & seeds: chia seeds, hemp seeds, macadamia nuts
- Non-dairy: such as coconut, almond, oat-based produce.
And remember that we offer FREE 10 minute consultations with our friendly Registered Holistic Nutritionists or Certified Nutritional Practitioners in store. We’re always ready to welcome you with a smile, so don’t hesitate to book a consultation, or pop into our store to find a wide selection of natural antihistamine solutions…because life is so much more fun when you’re feeling good!