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low histamine diet plan: foods to eat and foods to avoid

low histamine diet meal suggestion

In today’s post we are going to show you exactly how to follow the low histamine diet plan. In fact this diet has shown an increase of serum DAO (Diamine Oxidase). But first, let’s have a quick tour around the diet.

Patients who followed this diet had improvement of symptoms or no continuing symptoms according to a study by (Sonja Lackner in 2018)

Let’s dive right in.

  1. The Definition Of Histamine: Is Histamine A Hormone?
  2. What Is The Functions Of Histamine?
  3. Symptoms Of Histamine Excess
  4. Why Does Excessive Histamine Cause Problems?
  5. How Does the Body Usually get Rid of Histamine?
  6. The Low Histamine Diet Plan
  7. How to Follow This Diet?
  8. Best Low Histamine Foods

 

The Definition Of Histamine: Is Histamine A Hormone?

Histamine (2-4-imidazolyl ethylamine) is a critical bioactive chemical for the proper functioning of numerous physiological systems.

It is a neurotransmitter that transmits signals between neurons in the brain and nervous system. In addition, it is an important mediator of the sleep/wake cycle and cognition functions.

Moreover, it regulates gastric acid as well as it influences blood vessel permeability. Not only that, but also it regulates smooth muscle contraction.

Last but not least, it is an essential component in the body’s defense against invasion by potentially disease-causing agents such as bacteria, viruses and other foreign bodies.

What Is The Functions Of Histamine?

Histamine serves a variety of vital roles in the human body. For example, when the body’s health is is under threat, histamine plays an important role in the body’s defense mechanisms. This leads to help in the fight against bacteria, viruses, and other external invaders.

The histamine operates as a neurotransmitter in the brain and neurological system as it regulates a variety of biological activities. It initiates the release of stomach acid (which aids digestion), and regulates smooth muscle contraction.

Histamine is the first inflammatory mediator generated when the immune system begins his counter campaign in response to foreign material entering the body.

Besides, Histamine is a major mediator in the symptoms of an allergic reaction. In addition to its role in coordinating important physiological processes and guarding against external invaders.

Also, Histamine (along with other protective inflammatory mediators) is generated in response to the allergen since allergy is fundamentally an inflammatory reaction.

Symptoms Of Histamine Excess

When the total amount of histamine in the body surpasses the enzymes’ ability to get broken down, a range of unpleasant symptoms can ensue. Most notably:

  • Pruritus, especially of the skin, eyes, ears, and nose
  • Flushing or reddening of the skin
  • Urticaria
  • Including “idiopathic urticaria” and “autoimmune
  • urticaria”
  • Angioedema, especially of facial and oral tissues and sometimes the throat.
  • Rhinitis
  • Rhinorrhea
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Digestive problems, including heartburn, indigestion and reflux
  • Hypotension
  • Tachycardia
  • Chest pain
  • Symptoms resembling an anxiety or panic attack
  • Headaches
  • Psychological symptoms including confusion and irritability
  • Very rarely, there may be a brief loss of consciousness usually lasting for only one or two seconds

Not everyone will experience all of these symptoms, and the intensity of symptoms will grow as histamine levels rise in the body.

Many of these symptoms are similar to the ones that often experienced in an allergic reaction. Because the body releases a large amount of histamine during an allergic reaction.

This makes the symptoms of histamine intolerance and allergic reactions often similar. Especially that the symptoms of histamine intolerance are several and easily misinterpreted.

Due to all these facts, histamine intolerance is frequently undetected and underdiagnosed, despite the fact that it affects about 1% of the general population.

Why Does Excessive Histamine Cause Problems?

Histamine sensitivity/intolerance symptoms appear only when the body has an excessive amount of histamine. To make it easy to understand, let’s consider histamine intolerance as a bucket of water filling up.

When the water level in the bucket is below the top, everything is OK; however, when the bucket overflows, major problems can arise.

While every person has a different-sized “bucket”. The point at which the “bucket” overflows and symptoms arise varies from person to person. However, it’s referred to as a person’s limit of tolerance. But what causes the bucket to overflow in the first place?

Well, because histamine levels in the body might rise to a point where they exceed the body’s ability to eliminate the excess.

How Does the Body Usually get Rid of Histamine?

Enzymes, notably diamine oxidase (DAO) and, to a lesser extent, histamine N-Methyl transferase (HNMT), break down and eliminate excess histamine from the body.

These two enzymes can be found in a variety of tissues and act all over the body. The threshold level of histamine tolerance is substantially lower in people with low levels of these enzymes than in the general population. Both enzymes function in various ways.

When histamine levels from any source above a particular threshold in normal conditions, these enzymes quickly breakdown the excess. And when the rate of breakdown is insufficient to handle the excess, the body’s total level of histamine rises.

Signs and symptoms appear when histamine binds to histamine receptors on specific cells at a crucial level. Resulting in a clinical picture that is often indistinguishable from allergies.

This is certainly more noticeable in persons who have low tolerance levels.

In contrast, even persons who produce normal levels of DAO might develop symptoms such as severe headaches and flushing when their enzymes are unable to break down histamine. This happens when eating a meal containing massive amounts of histamine. There can still be a large bucket overfilled!

Histamine intolerance sufferers must consequently keep their histamine levels under control in order to prevent their “bucket” from overflowing and triggering symptoms.

The Low Histamine Diet Plan

At this time, the most effective way to reduce histamine intolerance symptoms is to follow a reduced histamine diet plan. Maybe in combination with a DAO supplement.

How to Follow This Diet?

Before starting on this diet, you should make sure there isn’t an underlying condition causing their symptoms before starting on this diet. You should also double-check that a diet change won’t exacerbate any existing issues; this is especially important when changing a child’s diet.

Unlike many other elimination diets, the effects of a low histamine diet plan will be felt almost immediately after a person follows the instructions to the letter.

Symptomatic relief should become apparent as soon as their histamine level falls below their tolerance limit. Based on this improvement a diagnosis of histamine intolerance or sensitivity can be assumed.

By sticking to this diet, the patient should be able to regulate their symptoms for the foreseeable future.

We recommend that you keep a close eye on your reaction to your new diet. In the long run, you should learn more about your personal “tolerance limit.”

You will be able to eat “off-diet” once in a while if you don’t mind the brief recurrence of symptoms. There will be no long-term health consequences if you do.

But if you don’t get relief throughout the trial time, you don’t have a histamine intolerance and you can eat whatever you like.

Best foods for a low histamine diet plan

The following list includes foods allowed on a low histamine diet as well as items to avoid. This list is based on several research studies published in peer-reviewed publications and treatises.

But, to ensure complete and balanced nutrition, you must carefully check the ingredients list on everything you buy and foods we will outline.

Meat & poultry

  • Safe to eat
  1. All types of plain, fresh or frozen and freshly cooked meat or poultry (e.g. beef, pork, lamb, venison, moose, elk, chicken, turkey, goose, ostrich, duck, pheasant, etc.).
  2. Freeze-dried meat
  • Avoid
  1. All leftover cooked meat, unless frozen immediately and reheated before consumption.
  2. Processed, smoked, pickled or fermented meats such as luncheon meat, sausage, wiener, frankfurter, hot dog, bologna, salami, pepperoni, smoked ham, cured bacon and Parma ham.

 

Fish

  • Safe to eat
  1. Fish that has been caught, gutted and cooked within thirty minutes (it should not smell “fishy”. As this usually means that there has been a lot of microbial activity).
  2. Fish that has been frozen or canned in North America, UK, or the EU.
  • Avoid
  1. All shellfish, unless cooked from the live state.
  2. Any fish—whether fresh, frozen, smoked or canned/tinned—where it is not clear how it has been processed.
  3. Pickled fish
  4. Artificially smoked fish (e.g. smoked salmon)
  5. Egg

 

Eggs

Egg whites release histamine by a mechanism that is not presently understood, whereas egg yolks are usually safe. However, whole, cooked eggs are fine as a minor ingredient in a baked product.

  • Safe to eat
  1. A small quantity of cooked egg in baked products (such as pancakes, muffins and cakes) is allowed.
  • Avoid
  1. Dishes containing raw egg. For example:
  2. Individual egg dishes
  3. Mayonnaise (both homemade and commercially produced)
  4. Any dish where eggs are the main ingredient. For example:
  5. Milk and Milk Products

Dairy product

  • Safe to eat
  1. Cream
  2. Curdled milk products (including paneer/paneer and some ricotta cheese)
  3. Produced without microbial fermentation (check labels for words like “bacterial culture” or “microbial culture”; any foods that suggest microorganisms in their ingredients should be avoided).
  4. Ice cream
  5. Plain milk, including whole, reduced-fat (2%), semi-skimmed, low-fat (1%), and fat-free (skim/skimmed)
  6. All animal milk is safe (e.g. cow, goat, sheep).

 

Fermented milk products

  • Avoid

All fermented milk products, including:

  1. Buttermilk
  2. Cheese made by fermentation (e.g. cheddar, blue cheese, brie)
  3. Cheese products: processed cheese, cheese slices, cheese spreads
  4. Cottage cheese
  5. Kefir and other milk products produced by fermentation
  6. Ricotta (if made with bacterial culture)
  7. Sour/soured cream, also crème fraiche
  8. Yoghurt

Grains and starches

(including rice, pasta, sweet products, bread products and cereal)

  • Safe to eat
  1. Bread, buns and biscuits (US)
  2. Cakes, cookies (US)/biscuits (UK) and pies
  3. Cereal
  4. Corn, cornstarch, cornmeal and cornflour
  5. Crackers
  6. Oats
  7. Pasta (plain)
  8. Pastries (homemade)
  9. Pizza dough
  10. Popcorn (plain)
  11. Rice
  12. White flour (unbleached)
  13. Whole grains (plain)
  • Avoid
  1. Bleached flour (benzoyl peroxide is likely to be the bleaching agent)
  2. Cereals with artificial colors, flavors, preservatives, etc.
  3. Pasta meals in packages or cans
  4. Pastries (commercially made)
  5. Popcorn with artificial flavors
  6. Rice entrees in packages or cans

Fruit

Fresh fruit is always best and least likely to contain histamine which may rise with over-ripening. That entitles them to be in the low histamine diet plan.

Frozen and canned fruit without any additional ingredients (i.e. no sugar or other additives such as artificial colors and preservatives) are allowed if fresh is not available. Sulfite-free dried fruits on the allowed list should be tolerated: avoid all containing sulfites.

  • Safe to eat
  1. Apples
  2. Bananas
  3. Dragon Fruit
  4. Figs
  5. Guavas
  6. Kiwis
  7. Longans
  8. Lychees/Lichis
  9. Mangos
  10. Melons
  11. Passion fruit
  12. Peaches
  13. Pears
  14. Rhubarb
  15. Starfruit
  16. Blueberries (see note at the end of this section, as blueberries may cause problems for the most histamine sensitive people)
  • Avoid
  1. Apricots
  2. Cherries
  3. Cranberries
  4. Currants
  5. Dates
  6. Grapefruit
  7. Grapes
  8. Lemons
  9. Limes
  10. Loganberries
  11. Mulberries
  12. Nectarines
  13. Oranges
  14. Papaya/Pawpaw
  15. Pineapple
  16. Plums
  17. Prunes
  18. Raisins
  19. Raspberries
  20. Saskatoon berries
  21. Strawberries

Vegetables

  • Safe to eat
  1. All plain vegetables and salad vegetables, fresh, frozen, canned, juiced, without any additional ingredients—except for those on the “Avoid” list.
  • Avoid
  1. Avocado
  2. Eggplant/aubergine
  3. Olives
  4. Pumpkin
  5. Ripe Tomatoes (including tomato sauces & ketchup)
  6. Spinach

Legumes

(Beans, Lentils, Peanuts, Peas)

  • Safe to eat
  1. All fresh, frozen, canned/tinned beans and peas (except those on the “Avoid” list) without additional ingredients.
  2. Peanuts
  3. Plain peanut butter
  • Avoid
  1. Garbanzo beans/chick peas
  2. Lentils
  3. Red beans (such as kidney beans and adzuki beans)
  4. Soybeans/edamame
  5. Soy products, including

Nuts and seeds

  • Safe to eat
  1. All plain nuts and seeds (except pumpkin seeds)
  • Avoid
  1. Nut and seed mixtures with artificial flavoring (such as barbecue, chili, ranch)
  2. Pumpkin seeds

Herbs, spices and seasonings

  • Safe to eat
  1. All plain fresh, frozen or dried herbs (except those on the “Avoid” list)
  2. All plain spices (except those on the “Avoid” list)
  • Avoid
  1. Anise
  2. Chili powder (commercial mixes usually contain restricted spices)
  3. Cinnamon
  4. Cloves
  5. Curry powder (commercial mixes usually contain restricted
  6. spices)
  7. Foods labelled “…with spices”
  8. Other commercial mixes/seasoning packages that contain
  9. restricted spices
  10. Nutmeg
  11. Thyme

Fats and oils

  • Safe to eat
  1. Butter (plain)
  2. Gravy (homemade)
  3. Lard and meat drippings/dripping
  4. Pure vegetable oil, except olive oil
  5. Salad dressing (homemade with allowed ingredients)
  • Avoid
  1. Any fats and oils with added color and/or preservatives
  2. Gravy made from mixes, or from cans
  3. Hydrolyzed/hydrolyzed lecithin
  4. Margarine

Candies, sugar and sweeteners

  • Safe to eat
  1. Corn syrup
  2. Candies/sweets (homemade with allowed ingredients)
  3. Honey
  4. Jams, jellies, marmalades and preserves (made with allowed
  5. ingredients)
  6. Maple syrup
  7. Plain artificial sweeteners
  8. Sugar (all kinds)
  • Avoid
  1. Cake decorations
  2. Commercial candies/sweets
  3. Chocolate
  4. Commercial frosting
  5. Commercial prepared dessert fillings
  6. Flavored syrups

Drinks/beverages

  • Safe to drink
  1. 100% fruit and vegetable juices (from “Safe to Eat” ingredients)
  2. Coffee (plain)
  3. Cocoa (homemade with allowed ingredients; baking cocoa is
  4. allowed)
  5. Herbal teas
  6. Milk (plain)
  7. Mineral Water (plain)
  • Avoid
  1. All alcoholic drinks
  2. All “flavored” drinks
  3. Cola-type carbonated drinks and sodas
  4. Fermented drinks (e.g. kombucha, kefir)
  5. Flavored coffees
  6. Flavored milks
  7. Soy “milk”
  8. Non-alcoholic beers/wines and other beverages that have been
  9. produced by fermentation
  10. Tea

Miscellaneous

  • Safe to eat
  1. Baking powder
  2. Baking soda
  3. Cornstarch/corn flour
  4. Cream of tartar
  5. Fish oil
  6. Gelatin/gelatin (plain)
  7. Homemade relish (made from “Safe to Eat” ingredients)
  8. Yeast
  • Avoid
  1. Artificial colors (e.g. tartrazine)
  2. Fermented foods (e.g. sauerkraut)
  3. Flavored gelatin/gelatin
  4. Tomato ketchup
  5. Medicines and vitamin pills containing artificial colors, benzoates
  6. or sulfites
  7. Mincemeat (i.e. the mix of chopped dried fruit, spices and spirits)
  8. Pickles
  9. Relish (pre-prepared)
  10. Preservatives, especially benzoates and sulfites
  11. Soy and soy products (see “Legumes” section above for more
  12. information)
  13. Vinegar

Bottom line: there are plenty of food listed above that is more than enough to kickstart your journey! But, this is not all we’ve got for you as we will add some recipes as well as soon as possible.

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