Have you noticed that your allergies have been feeling more and more severe as of late? If so, it’s possible that you have developed a histamine intolerance. Luckily for you, there are ways you can get your histamine levels in check. In this article, our team here at The Dempster Clinic will go over what histamine is, why too much can be a bad thing, and how you can lower your levels.
What Is Histamine?
Despite what you may think, histamines are actually beneficial for your body – in the right amount of course. They are a compound that acts as neurotransmitters to communicate essential messages throughout your body and brain. They assist your immune system and central nervous system while also helping break down food in the digestive system.
When your body senses a foreign invader, histamines will trigger an inflammatory response, dilating your blood vessels so white blood cells can flow through quickly. This is what is responsible for puffy eyes, sneezing, or an itchy nose when your allergies are bothering you. Once the foreign threat is dealt with, diamine oxidase will break down the histamines so they don’t build up in your system over time.
The Negative Side of Histamine
If histamine does so many good things for the body, why is there a negative connotation with the compound? Histamine issues occur when someone has too much histamine in their system. There are two main ways that you can suffer from a histamine intolerance: taking in too much histamine through your diet and your body’s inability to process it effectively. Your physical functioning is compromised when histamine levels get too high or your body can’t break it down. Because the compound naturally travels through your bloodstream, it can contribute to problems for your lungs, gut, brain, and entire cardiovascular system.
Signs of Histamine Intolerance
Knowing that you have histamine intolerance can be difficult, especially considering the fact that it shares many of the same symptoms with different diseases and disorders. One of the most common signs of histamine intolerance is seasonal allergies. Here are some of the other symptoms of histamine intolerance:
- Chronic headaches or migraines
- Itchy eyes and a runny nose
- Excessive sweating
- Cramping or headaches
- Seasonal allergies
- Abdominal pain
If you experience these symptoms on rare occasions, it’s more likely that you are simply having an allergy flare-up. However, if you experience these symptoms frequently, you may have histamine intolerance. Patients with a combination of these symptoms are typically referred to a dermatologist, gynecologist, gastroenterologist, or pulmonologist.
Ways Histamine Intolerance Can Hold You Back
We’ve all experienced those days when allergies completely derail us and prevent us from doing anything productive. With histamine intolerance, those days come far more frequently. Here are some of the ways a histamine intolerance can hinder your everyday life:
- Issues with productivity – The headaches, migraines, and dizziness that accompany histamine intolerance make it difficult to focus on the task at hand
- Trouble breathing – Histamine intolerance can lead to bronchial asthma, perennial rhinitis, a runny nose, and bronchitis, making it much harder for you to breath
- Pain – Acute or chronic gastrointestinal problems can occur which can lead to pain and discomfort
- Fatigue – The symptoms of histamine intolerance make it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep, leaving your tired and fatigued all day long
- On edge – Histamine intolerance can cause anxiety, depressions, and tension, leaving you on edge all day long
Simply put, a histamine issue can greatly hinder your everyday life. Luckily for you, there are steps you can take to lower your histamine levels. We will go further into detail about these steps later in the article.
What Causes an Intolerance
Remember the enzyme diamine oxidase (DAO) we mentioned earlier in the post? Most histamine intolerances occur due to a DAO deficiency. When you have a DAO deficiency, you are unable to break down histamine, which can lead to intolerance. Here are some of the reasons why your DAO enzyme levels could be negatively affected:
- You are taking medications that block DAO functions or prevent production
- Gastrointestinal disorders such as leaky gut syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease
- Histamine-rich foods that cause DAO enzymes to function improperly
- Foods that block DAO enzymes or trigger histamine release
Bacterial overgrowth is another contributing factor for developing a histamine intolerance. Bacteria grow when food isn’t digested properly, causing histamine overproduction. Normal levels of DAO enzymes can’t break down the increased levels of histamine in your body, causing a reaction.
Foods to Avoid That Have High Histamine Levels
There are foods you should avoid that are histamine rich. The foods below should be avoided as much as possible.
Foods You Can Eat to Lower Histamine Levels
Perhaps the biggest key contributor to the level of histamine and DAO enzymes in your body is your diet. By following a diet centered around avoiding foods with high histamine levels such as cured meats, alcohol, eggplant, nuts, and fermented fruits, you can greatly lower the chances of developing an intolerance.
Here are some of the foods that you should add to your diet to help bring your histamine levels back under control.
- Fresh meat, poultry, or fish
- Fresh fruits like mango, pear, kiwi, watermelon, and grapes
- Gluten-free grains like rice, quinoa, corn, and millet
- Unprocessed peanut butter
- Coconut oil and olive oil
- All fresh vegetables (except avocados, tomatoes, spinach, and eggplant)
- Dairy-free milk like soy milk, coconut milk, and almond milk
- Herbal tea
Not only will these foods help lower the levels of histamine in your body, but they will also help increase DAO production. Remember, histamine is an important compound that helps out your body, but too much can be a bad thing. That’s why it’s important to keep these levels in check by eating a healthy diet.
Supplements For Support
Adding in specific vitamins and/or supplements may help you with a histamine intolerance. Always ensure to work with your functional medicine practitioner to find the right approach tailored to you. Many of the supplements listed below are excellent options to consider:
- Stinging Nettle
- Vitamin B-1, B-6, and B-12
- Folic Acid
- Vitamin C
We’re Here to Help!
Dr. John Dempster, ND is here to help you get to the bottom of your histamine intolerance. At The Dempster Clinic Healthy Gut Institute, we work hard to help optimize your histamine levels. Feel free to give us a call today to find out how we can help you!