Understanding Histamine Intolerance – A Simple Guide

Hey there, friends! Today, we’re going to talk about something called histamine intolerance. If you’ve never heard of it, don’t worry—we’ll break it down for you in a way that’s easy to understand. So, let’s dive right in!

First off, what is histamine? It’s a natural substance found in our bodies and in some foods. It helps our immune system fight off germs, and it’s also involved in our digestion and nervous system. However, for some people, their bodies struggle to break down histamine properly, which can lead to a buildup of histamine in the body. This is known as histamine intolerance.

What is Histamine?

Histamine is an organic compound that is involved in many crucial functions within our body. It’s a type of biogenic amine, meaning it’s derived from an amino acid—in this case, L-histidine. Our bodies produce histamine through a process called decarboxylation, where the L-histidine decarboxylase enzyme transforms L-histidine into histamine.

Histamine plays several important roles in the body, such as:

Regulating our immune system’s response to foreign substances

Acting as a neurotransmitter, which helps relay signals within the nervous system

Participating in the regulation of stomach acid secretion, essential for proper digestion

Histamine can be found in various cells throughout the body, including mast cells, basophils, enterochromaffin cells, and histaminergic neurons. When released, it interacts with four types of histamine receptors (H1, H2, H3, and H4), which are present in different tissues and organs.

Now that we understand what histamine is, let’s talk about how our bodies metabolise it. The process of breaking down and eliminating histamine is essential for maintaining a healthy balance.

There are two primary enzymes involved in histamine metabolism:

Diamine oxidase (DAO): This enzyme is primarily responsible for breaking down extracellular histamine (histamine found outside of cells) in the digestive system, bloodstream, and other tissues. DAO oxidatively deaminates histamine into imidazole-4-acetaldehyde, which is further metabolised and eventually eliminated from the body.

Histamine N-methyltransferase (HNMT): This enzyme is primarily responsible for metabolizing intracellular histamine (histamine found within cells), particularly in the central nervous system. HNMT converts histamine into N-methylhistamine by adding a methyl group, which is then further metabolized and eliminated.

Both DAO and HNMT play crucial roles in maintaining histamine balance within the body. However, when the activity of these enzymes is reduced or impaired, histamine may accumulate, leading to histamine intolerance and its associated symptoms. Several factors can contribute to reduced enzyme activity, including genetic predisposition, certain medications, and health conditions.

By understanding what histamine is and how our bodies metabolize it, we can better appreciate the importance of maintaining a healthy histamine balance and addressing any potential issues that may arise due to histamine intolerance.

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How Does Histamine Intolerance Feel?

Histamine intolerance occurs when there’s an imbalance between the amount of histamine being produced or consumed and the body’s ability to break it down. When the enzymes responsible for histamine metabolism—diamine oxidase (DAO) and histamine N-methyltransferase (HNMT)—are not functioning optimally, histamine can build up in the body. This accumulation can lead to a wide range of symptoms that can make everyday life challenging.

People with histamine intolerance may experience various symptoms that affect multiple organ systems, as histamine receptors are found throughout the body.

Some common symptoms include:

Digestive issues: Bloating, gas, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and constipation can occur as a result of histamine affecting the gastrointestinal tract.

Skin reactions: Hives, itching, redness, and even eczema may appear as histamine triggers inflammatory responses in the skin.

Respiratory problems: Histamine can cause nasal congestion, sneezing, and difficulty breathing due to its effects on the respiratory system.

Cardiovascular symptoms: Fluctuations in blood pressure, rapid heartbeat, and dizziness can be experienced as histamine influences blood vessel dilation and constriction.

Neurological symptoms: Headaches, migraines, and even brain fog may arise due to histamine’s role as a neurotransmitter in the nervous system.

It’s essential to note that histamine intolerance can manifest differently from person to person. Some may experience only a few symptoms, while others may be affected by a broader range of issues. The severity of symptoms can also vary, and they may not always be consistent. This variability can make it challenging to pinpoint histamine intolerance as the cause of a person’s discomfort.

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High Histamine Producing Foods

Let’s explore high histamine foods and how they may impact your body. It’s essential to be aware of these foods, as they can cause uncomfortable symptoms for those who are histamine intolerant. Remember, not all of these foods directly contain histamines, but some can trigger histamine release or feed bacteria that produce histamines.

Protein sources: Be cautious of eggs, seafood (including fresh shellfish, finfish, and smoked or canned products), Greek yogurt, kefir yogurt, bone broth, and processed or cured meats like bacon, sausages, and salami.

Veggies: Keep an eye on tomatoes, spinach, eggplant, and fermented foods such as pickles, kimchi, natto, tempeh, kombucha, and sauerkraut.

Carb-rich foods: Certain fruits, like citrus, pineapple, papaya, kiwi, grapes, plums, passion fruit, and most berries (blueberries and blackberries are exceptions), can be high in histamines. Yeast products, gluten grains, dried fruits, beans, legumes, lentils, peas, soy products, pumpkin, and processed carbs can also be problematic.

Fats: Dairy products like milk, cream, sour cream, cheese, and butter, as well as vegetable oils (such as canola, safflower, sunflower, soybean, and peanut oil) found in many takeout, restaurant, and packaged foods, can be high in histamines.

Herbs, spices, and flavors: Some seasonings, such as chili powder, cloves, anise, nutmeg, curry powder, cayenne, soy sauce, yeast, ketchup, mustard, vinegars, salad dressings, relishes, tomato-based sauces, and processed sauces, may contribute to histamine levels. Additionally, watch out for artificial flavors, preservatives, additives, and colors in processed foods.

Drinks: Herbal teas, milk, alcohol (especially beer, cider, champagne, and wine), sugar-sweetened beverages, and fermented drinks like kombucha and kefir milk may also trigger histamine intolerance symptoms.

Being aware of high histamine foods can help you make informed choices about your diet, especially if you’re histamine intolerant. Keep in mind that everyone’s body is unique, and what affects one person may not impact another. Listen to your body and work with a healthcare professional to create a personalised dietary plan that supports your well-being.

Hormones and Histamine

The connection you should know about

Histamine intolerance and hormone imbalances are closely linked, as hormones can significantly impact the way your body processes and reacts to histamines. Understanding this relationship can help you better manage your histamine intolerance symptoms and support your overall health.

Estrogen and Histamine Intolerance

Estrogen, a primary female sex hormone, plays a crucial role in the relationship between hormones and histamine intolerance. Estrogen can stimulate the release of histamine from mast cells and even increase its production. Additionally, histamine can trigger the production of more estrogen, creating a cycle that exacerbates histamine intolerance symptoms in some individuals.

Women with estrogen dominance, a hormonal imbalance where estrogen levels are disproportionately higher than progesterone levels, may be more susceptible to histamine intolerance. This is because the increased estrogen levels may further stimulate histamine release, leading to a heightened sensitivity to histamine-rich foods and more severe symptoms.

Progesterone and Histamine Intolerance

Progesterone, another essential female sex hormone, can help counteract the effects of estrogen on histamine release. Progesterone has a stabilizing effect on mast cells, reducing histamine release and potentially alleviating histamine intolerance symptoms.

In cases of progesterone deficiency or estrogen dominance, the lack of progesterone’s stabilizing influence may make it more difficult for the body to manage histamine levels, contributing to histamine intolerance symptoms.

Hormonal Fluctuations and Histamine Intolerance

Hormonal fluctuations throughout a woman’s menstrual cycle may also impact histamine intolerance. As estrogen levels rise and fall during the cycle, histamine intolerance symptoms may worsen during specific phases, particularly when estrogen levels peak.

Women experiencing perimenopause, menopause, or conditions like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) that cause hormonal imbalances may also find their histamine intolerance symptoms worsen during these times.

Managing Hormones and Histamine Intolerance

To address the relationship between hormones and histamine intolerance, consider working with a healthcare professional who can help you identify and treat underlying hormonal imbalances. Balancing estrogen and progesterone levels, along with adopting a low-histamine diet, can support the management of histamine intolerance symptoms.

Remember that everyone’s body is unique, and the relationship between hormones and histamine intolerance may vary from person to person. By understanding this connection and working with a healthcare professional to create a personalised plan, you can better manage your histamine intolerance and support your overall well-being.

Healing the GUT

Your Secret Weapon Against Histamine Intolerance

Histamine intolerance can be a frustrating and challenging condition to manage. Many people turn to diamine oxidase (DAO) supplements for relief, but this approach only offers a temporary fix. To truly overcome histamine intolerance, it’s essential to focus on healing the gut and addressing the root cause: gut dysbiosis, or microbial imbalance.

Gut Health and DAO Production

DAO, the enzyme responsible for breaking down histamine, is produced by the lining of your intestine. This means that a healthy gut is essential for maintaining proper DAO levels. Damage to the gut lining can result in decreased DAO production, which in turn can lead to histamine intolerance.

Gut dysbiosis, an imbalance of good and bad bacteria in the gut, is a key factor contributing to gut lining damage and histamine intolerance. This imbalance can cause over-activation of the immune system, increasing histamine levels and exacerbating symptoms.

The Gut-Histamine Intolerance Connection

There’s a clear link between gut health and histamine intolerance. For example, altered histamine receptor expression is observed in people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), a condition often driven by gut dysbiosis. Moreover, many people with histamine intolerance also have Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO), a potential effect of chronic gut dysbiosis.

Tackling Histamine Intolerance by Restoring Gut Balance

To effectively manage histamine intolerance, you need to address gut dysbiosis and restore balance to your gut bacteria. Here are a few strategies to help you do just that:

Choose gut-friendly foods: Focus on a diet rich in whole, unprocessed foods that promote gut health, such as fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, healthy fats, and fiber. Avoid foods that can exacerbate histamine intolerance or contribute to gut dysbiosis.

Find the right probiotics: Not all probiotics are created equal. While some strains of bacteria can produce histamine, there are others that have been found to reduce histamine production in the gut. Consult a healthcare professional to help you select the right probiotic for your needs.

Identify and address underlying issues: Depending on your symptoms, you may need to investigate and address other gut-related issues, such as SIBO or IBS, which can contribute to histamine intolerance.

Work with a healthcare professional: Partner with a healthcare professional who can guide you in developing a personalized plan to address gut dysbiosis, heal your gut, and manage histamine intolerance.

By focusing on healing your gut and addressing the root cause of histamine intolerance, you can enjoy a better quality of life and reduce your reliance on temporary fixes like DAO supplements. Remember, a healthy gut is your secret weapon in the battle against histamine intolerance.

Are you struggling with histamine intolerance and ready to take control of your health? Don’t let this condition hold you back from living your best life! At Total Healthcare Naturally, our experienced naturopathic professional is here to help you heal your gut and manage histamine intolerance effectively.

Book an appointment  today, and let’s work together to create a personalised plan that addresses your unique needs. I’ll guide you through the process of restoring gut balance, selecting the right probiotics, meal planning and tackling any underlying issues that may be contributing to your histamine intolerance.

Take the first step towards better health and improved quality of life by booking your appointment now. You deserve to feel your best, and I’m here to help you achieve it. Click the link below to schedule your consultation, and let’s embark on this healing journey together.

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