What is histamine?
Histamine is found in most processed foods and it is a nitrogen-containing compound involved in local immune responses and regulates physiological functions in the gut and acts as a neurotransmitter. In our body, histamine is produced by basophils and mast cells. Histamine helps in enhancing the permeability of capillaries to pass white blood cells and various proteins. Histamine is also involved in various immune disorders and allergies. (1)
Histamine and methylation:
Histamine not only functions in cell repair and detoxification but also affects histamine levels. If methylation is not working well due to some genetics ( as MTHFR mutation) it means we are lacking in methyl groups to bind to a receptor site.
What is methylation?
Methylation is the process of adding a methyl group (1 carbon+ 3 hydrogens) to a compound in your body, resulting in a specific action. Genetic variants known as Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms can cause MTHFR ( methyltetrahydrofolate reductase) gene, which is responsible for methylation. It suffers a person from a condition of being not able to detoxify.
Foods that support methylation:
There are certain foods that support and balance the methylation in your body. Foods including an anti-histamine diet are the following ones:
- Red onions
- Green leafy vegetables
- Bok choy
- Green/ white cabbage
- Turnip greens
- Watercress (2)
Foods to avoid a low-histamine diet:
Histamine levels in the foods are difficult to quantify. Suppose in a piece of cheddar cheese, the histamine level can vary significantly depending on how long it has been aged, its storage time, or the presence of any other preservatives.
Generally, fermented foods contain the highest level of histamine while fresh and unprocessed foods have a low level of histamine foods. Some foods although rich in histamine can trigger your cells to release histamine. Therefore, these are called histamine liberators. Following is a list of high-level histamine foods:
- Fermented dairy products (cheese, yogurt, sour cream, buttermilk)
- Fermented vegetables (kimchi)
- Cured or fermented meats as sausages, salami, or fermented ham
- Fermented soy products
- Frozen, salted, or canned fish
- Tomato ketchup
Pros and cons of a low-histamine diet:
Low histamine diets can lead to malnutrition.
Histamine intolerance is difficult to diagnose due to the availability of no evidence of improving life quality by using a low-histamine diet. These foods serve as a diagnostic tool. If you eliminate the histamine-rich foods in your diet and then slowly add them back in, you will learn more about your tolerance to foods containing histamine. Apart from this, histamine intolerance varies from person to person. However, by adding histamine back to your diet, you can carefully evaluate which foods trigger uncomfortable symptoms, if any.
Low-histamine diet tips:
To eliminate histamine-rich foods and practice a low-histamine diet:
- Eat foods that are in natural forms
- Cook all your own meals
- Avoid junk food or anything highly processed
- Eat only fresh foods that have been kept in the refrigerator
- Consult with a nutritionist and dietitian about getting all the nutrients
- Talk to your doctor about mineral and vitamin supplements as well as vitamin B-6, vitamin C, copper, and zinc.
How to control histamine levels with diet?
Foods to avoid:
Foods that are rich in histamine trigger inflammatory reactions and negative symptoms.
Histamine-rich foods that need to avoid are:
- Alcohol and other fermented beverages
- Fermented foods and dairy products such as yogurt
- Dried foods
- Processed or smoked meats
- Aged cheese
There are a number of foods that trigger the histamine release in the body.
- Wheat germ
- Citrus fruits
- Nuts as walnuts, peanuts, cashew nuts
- Food dyes and other additives
What foods to eat?
If you have histamine intolerance, incorporating low-histamine foods into your diet can help reduce symptoms. Foods low in histamine include:
- Fresh meat and fresh fish
- Non-citrus fruits
- Gluten-free grains such as quinoa and rice
- Dairy substitutes as coconut milk and almond milk
- Fresh vegetables except for tomatoes, avocados, spinach
- Cooking oil such as olive oil (3)
Example diet plan:
Following is an example of a low histamine diet plan that someone could follow while monitoring their symptoms.
- Oatmeal made with water or coconut milk
- Puffed rice with coconut milk
- Apple, melon, and pear fruit salad with chopped pistachios
- Smoothie made with mango, coconut milk, chia seeds, and kale
- Chicken and kale salad with chopped grapes
- Chicken, lettuce, and grated carrot sandwich
- Cottage cheese and cucumber on toast
- Herb salad
- Low histamine fish, such as trout or cod, are freshly caught and served with zucchini and roasted carrots.
- Chicken with new potatoes, broccoli, and green beans.
- Pasta with olive oil, garlic, herbs, and chicken.
- Homemade turkey burger with sweet potato wedges.
- Carrot sticks
- Cottage cheese
- Celery sticks
- Apple slices and natural peanut butter
A low histamine diet may benefit someone with histamine intolerance. Avoiding histamine high foods and allocating time to prepare fresh foods may help a person to manage their symptoms.
People need to ensure that they don’t miss out on essential nutrients when following a limited diet. People should not follow a long-term exclusive diet without seeking advice from a registered dietitian or nutritionist. (4)
The histamine determination blood test measures the amount of histamine in the blood.
Preparation: No fasting required.
1- Firstly, avoid taking allergy-causing drugs, antihistamines, oral corticosteroids, and substances which block H2 receptors 24 hours prior to collection. Check with the physician before stopping any medications.
2- Secondly, in case if you have missed this then body also can’t burn calories effectively when the histamine receptor is blocked, lowering metabolism. These biological changes result in increased appetite, overeating, slower fat breakdown, and weight gain