I’m sure you’ve heard a lot about antihistamines, but have you ever considered a low histamine diet plan? Do you know what histamine actually is?
Let me explain:
Histamine is a chemical created in the body that is released by white blood cells into the bloodstream when the immune system is defending against a potential allergen. And this can lead to allergic reactions from allergy triggers such as mold, pollen, and food. Once these allergies show up, you will probably reach out to get an antihistamine.
How Do You Manage Your Histamine Level?
One of the best ways to manage your histamine level and understand the threshold of your body is to consider a low histamine diet plan. This could act as a short-term solution so you should also work with an expert that understands your unique case to create a personalized diet plan that is nutritionally adequate for you. This diet plan will ultimately contain fewer foods with a high histamine content. When starting this diet, you’ll be required to watch your reactions and your tolerance level will be recorded over time. This will help in creating a long-term antihistamine diet plan that is balanced to suit your needs.
Why You Should Avoid Foods High in Histamine
Even though most people can tolerate foods with high histamines, about 1% of the world population still struggles with histamine intolerance. For these people, histamines won’t be broken down properly and instead, build up in the body. This could trigger an immune system response resulting in symptoms such as headaches, diarrhea, skin irritation, or shortness of breath.
Low Histamine Diet Plan Strategy
It’s difficult to determine the amount of histamine in foods as it varies even in the same type of food. But a good rule is to avoid foods that are fermented, aged, or overly processed, and focus more on fresh foods.
Histamine tolerance level also varies in different individuals. I will advise you to eliminate high-histamine foods[M1] from your diet and then add them back one at a time to determine which foods your body can tolerate and those that trigger these symptoms.
A food diary can be revealing and would suggest some problem foods even though you consider them to be healthy. The first step is to cut off alcohol, dairy, and fermented foods. These foods contain high histamines and promote the release of histamine. Other foods such as caffeinated drinks that block the activity of the DAO enzyme should also be eliminated.
High Histamine Foods List
Some of these foods that enhance the release of histamine are:
- Yogurt, sour cream, and buttermilk
- Alcoholic beverages
- Licorice and chocolate
- Frozen and smoked fish
- Egg whites
- Aged cheeses: Parmesan, cheddar, Gouda, Camembert, Swiss
- Processed meats: Cold cuts, bacon, sausage, salami, ham, chorizo, pepperoni
- Shellfish: Clams, mussels, shrimp
- Certain vegetables: Spinach, tomatoes, eggplant
- Food additives, preservatives, and food coloring
- Canned fish: Salmon and tuna
- Spices and condiments: Ketchup, chili powder, cinnamon, cloves, vinegar
- Packaged and processed foods: Snacks, ready-made grains, cookies, sweets
- Certain fruits: Strawberries, cherries, citrus fruits (papaya, orange, lemon, pineapple)
- Fermented foods and beverages: Sauerkraut, pickles, pickled vegetables, kefir, kombucha.
Natural Antihistamine Foods
Some nutrients and plant compounds such as vitamins C and D, curcumin, and quercetin act as natural antihistamines that inhibit the build-up of histamine in the body. Nutrients such as B vitamins and minerals such as zinc, copper, and manganese have been found to support the activity of the DAO enzyme.
Some of these foods with natural antihistamine includes:
- Gluten-free grains: Quinoa, brown rice
- Carob (an alternative to chocolate)
- Nut based milk: Almond, cashew, hemp
- Fresh meat and fish: Chicken, turkey, salmon, lean ground beef, lamb
- Starchy vegetables: Sweet potatoes, yams, butternut squash, winter squash
- Fresh vegetables: Arugula, artichokes, broccoli, carrots, onions, peppers, cucumbers, spaghetti squash, etc. (any vegetables except those on the do not eat list)
- Dried legumes: Chickpeas, black beans, kidney beans
- Olive oil, coconut oil
- Fresh herbs: Basil, parsley, oregano, rosemary, cilantro, thyme, turmeric
- Egg yolks
- Fresh fruit: Apples, pomegranates, grapes, cherries, pears, plums, peaches (any fruit except citrus fruits, strawberries, avocado)
- Hemp, flax, chia seeds
Flavonoid-rich foods such as dark chocolate, red cabbage, berries, onions, red wine, citrus, soy, kale, carob, and tea also inhibit the release of histamine and have protective effects. This is especially true of a flavonoid called quercetin found in black tea, blueberries, and kale. Also, the method of preparing these foods can increase or decrease the risk of histamine intolerance. For instance, the longer a food is left out, the more histamine will be produced. You should cook your meat or fish immediately. Steaming or braising meat or seafood have been shown to produce far less histamine than grilling.
Final Thoughts On the Low Histamine Diet Plan
Evaluate your lifestyle such as the amount of exposure to environmental allergens. Manage your stress level and consider exercises that are beneficial to you. Also, you should aim to shop little and often, because the fresher your food, the less histamine it is likely to contain. Cooking from fresh rather than using leftovers or prepared foods may also prove beneficial.
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