Could I have Histamine Intolerance? By Isha Patel

Could I have Histamine Intolerance?

Histamine intolerance is relatively rare, with only 1-3% of the global population affected.

However, it can be mistaken for a food allergy or gastrointestinal disorder, so it’s good to know what histamine intolerance is and how to identify it for better health overall. 

What is histamine? 

Histamine is a compound present in lots of foods and produced by a small subset of human cells, usually having little or no negative effect on our bodies. 

Histamine can also be produced during an allergic reaction. This can sometimes cause itching, redness, swelling, coughing or rashes if you have a sensitivity for this compound. 

For many, histamine can support plenty of positive physical attributes. Through a variety of medical studies, histamine has been shown to help regulate sleep and also aid digestion by playing a role in stomach acid production. 

What is histamine intolerance?  

Histamine intolerance is caused by a build up of histamine which the body can sometimes struggle to deal with. 

In healthy people, histamine that comes from our diets is supported by enzymes called amine oxidases, particularly, the Diamine Oxidase (DAO) enzyme. Those who have low levels of these enzymes have a higher risk for histamine intolerance. 

Some people may develop a DAO deficiency which can affect their tolerance of histamine levels.

Instances that have the potential to create a DAO deficiency include:

  • Drinking large amounts of wine and beer.
  • Diets high in histamine-rich foods, such as shellfish, mushrooms, nuts and milk. 
  • GI (gastrointestinal) conditions, such as inflammatory bowel syndrome and leaky gut syndrome.

What are the symptoms of histamine intolerance?

Histamine intolerance often presents quite common allergic responses, so it’s important to identify why you’re undergoing these issues and what you can do to reduce or eliminate them. 

Some symptoms of histamine intolerance are:

  • Wheezing
  • Runny nose or watery eyes
  • Diarrhoea
  • Headache
  • Flushed skin
  • Rash/hives/eczema/itching
  • Swelling of face/hands/lips
  • Arrhythmia (abnormal heartbeat)
  • Low blood pressure
  • Heartburn or abdominal pain.

Is there a connection between gut health and histamine?

DAO enzymes are stored within the small intestine and colon. When your body ingests histamine, the enzymes work to metabolise it and reduce the amount absorbed into the bloodstream. Decreased DAO production leads to increased histamine absorption, resulting in higher histamine levels. 

Research suggests that there is a proven association between the DAO gene and inflammatory and gastrointestinal diseases, such as food allergies, gluten-sensitive conditions, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

Supplementing with probiotics that decrease histamine levels may be beneficial. These include bifidobacteria species,  L. plantarum, L. rhamnosus, L. salivarius and L. gasseri. Researching products containing these probiotics can be a great idea if they suit your lifestyle and improve your overall wellbeing. 

Can you test for histamine?

Histamine levels can be measured in plasma or urine tests. Elevated histamine quantities and reduced DAO enzyme levels are both usually found in histamine intolerance. These can be used as diagnostic tools alongside a food diary to help you identify if you have a histamine intolerance.

Consult your healthcare provider for more information regarding histamine intolerance and histamine testing. 

Which foods are low in histamine?

If you know you have a histamine intolerance, boosting your diet with foods that are low in histamine can be beneficial for your overall health.

Some foods that are low in histamine are:

  • Fresh meat and fish
  • Olive oil
  • Gluten-free foodstuffs, such as rice and quinoa
  • Dairy-free products, such as almond milk.

General tips to manage histamine

  • Reduce canned food consumption. 
  • Avoid eating overly ripened and/or fermented foods (aged cheeses, alcoholic drinks, products containing yeast, stale fish).
  • Buy and eat fresh food.
  • Do not allow foods to spend too long outside of the fridge, especially meat products. 
  • Choose fresh meat, white fish or flash frozen foods. 

Everyone responds differently to histamine levels. Histamine can have a cumulative effect on symptoms. This can mean that for some people, small amounts may be tolerated. However, they may react more strongly when there are multiple sources of histamine in their diet which can trigger symptoms. 

If you think you may have a histamine intolerance, it’s sensible to get some proper support and advice from an experienced healthcare provider. 

Our Taymount practitioners are digestive and immune system specialists, who can provide insight, diagnosis and practical support throughout your entire healthcare journey. To find out how the Taymount team can help you get your life back on track, simply click for a consultation –

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