Sunday, 18 October 2015

What foods cause histamine intolerance?

Recently, I have been looking more and more into the chemistry of foods!

C5H9N3 is histamine!

How about that?

Ok, lets get down to the stuff you really want to know about!

Could you have histamine intolerance and what is it?



Histamine is a chemical compound which occurs naturally in foods.  It is involved in a local immune response as well as regulating physiological function in the gut.  The body is super clever! It does all this because we need it to.  It also works as a neurotransmitter. Basically sending messages from one place to another.  So,  we need it.  What we don't need, is an intolerance to it!

If we have an intolerance to it, this won't stop us from eating it but there are ways to limit what we consume at once in order to prevent a reaction.  It's like filling a cup with water.  A little bit in the bottom won't make the cup overflow.  Keep filling it (like filling your body with histamine) and it will flow over the top (cause a reaction).

Diamine Oxidase is an enzyme we all have which breaks down any histamine we consume from food containing the chemical compound histamine.  However, some of us can have a low level of the enzyme.  This, coupled with eating too much histamine food, we can suffer a reaction.   These can be allergy type reactions which cause
* Rashes
* Itching
* Sneezing
* Diarrhoea
* Vomiting
* Headaches

These high histamine containing foods are:

  • Champagne, wine, beer, cider and other fermented drinks and spirits
  • Sauerkraut and other pickled foods
  • Vinegar and foods containing it such as dressings, pickles, mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard
  • Tofu and soya sauce
  • Parmesan cheese and other cheeses
  • Sausages and other processed meats (ham, salami, gammon, bacon)
  • Mushrooms and quorn
  • Tinned and smoked fish (tuna, salmon, herring) and crustaceans
  • Prepared salads
  • Tinned vegetables
  • Dried fruit, seeds, nuts
  • Yeast extract, yeast
  • Chocolate, cocoa, cola

Many foods which are not high in histamine can stimulate the release of histamine in our mast cells in our body.  These are a type of immune cell.  These foods include:


  • Bananas
  • Tomatoes
  • Strawberries
  • Nuts
  • Peanuts
  • Shellfish
  • Egg white
  • Chocolate
  • Pumpkin
  • Spinach
  • Aubergines
  • Avocado
  • Papayas
  • Kiwi
  • Pineapple
  • Mango
  • Raspberry
  • Tangerines
  • Grapefruits
  • Red prunes
  • Pea
  • Spices
Try skin prick testing?  No,  this will not show a reaction.  The IgE food allergy indicator  will not show as this is not what causes the reaction at all.  

The best way forward is to try a low histamine diet for a couple of weeks.  Track everything you eat and eliminate the foods above.  Then also track your symptoms, feelings, sleep patterns and any reactions.  

As with any elimination diet,  you need to be aware of nutrient deficiency.  Therefore re-introduction of the foods is paramount.  Take one item per 3 days and slowly reintroduce them to your diet.  Keep tracking! This is super important.  

I'd love to know how you get on with this if you are a sufferer.  

Wishing you the very best of health. 

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