Exercising with Histamine Intolerance
We all know exercise is recommended for a healthy body in the long run. However, with histamine intolerance, you’re probably finding that exercise can make you sick. Unfortunately, exercise over the short term does tend to fill the histamine/inflammation bucket. However, over the long term, it’s highly anti-inflammatory, so don’t give up just yet. Here’s how to get exercise without the flare in symptoms.
1) CHOOSE YOUR EXERCISE WISELY
It’s important to choose an exercise based on your current fitness level. Any type of exercise could be strenuous for one person but relatively easy for another. If the exercise isn’t overly strenuous for you, it may take you a little while to tire, which can impact the amount of histamine depleted and released. Pick a way of exercising that doesn’t completely destroy you, but still gets you a good workout. I practice a style of ashtanga yoga – very strenuous, but it incorporates meditation (*Important –see below) and is naturally a type of interval training. Do the amount of exercise you can handle and gradually increase duration and intensity.
2) GO WITH NON-DYNAMIC EXERCISE
Studies show aerobic exercise, like running, cycling, or kickboxing can significantly raise histamine levels in the body. It’s only cardio that seems to do it, though – resistance training, like lifting weights (don’t overdo it), doesn’t appear to have that effect. At least in animals/people who don’t have a histamine intolerance or mast cell disorder. So, if you’re suffering from histamine intolerance, explore “non-dynamic” exercise options like weight training, pilates, or yoga.
Speaking of which, did you know that one of the many studies on yoga showed that females who practiced yoga regularly had 41% lower stress markers than non-yogis? And significantly lower inflammation. That’s huge for us with histamine intolerance. Incorporate yoga if you can.
Keep in mind that while cardio exercise releases histamine and other inflammation, the effect is only temporary (up to 72 hours). That also would be a reason to not over schedule yourself in the days that follow a good workout. But after the three days or so, exercise actually has an anti-inflammatory effect on the body, which is why it’s still included as a part of my healing histamine reset program.
3) TAKE ENVIRONMENT INTO ACCOUNT
Your environment can make a huge impact on your stress levels and your histamine. Pay particular attention to the environment in which you are exercising – is the studio too hot, is the teacher too shouty, the music too loud? Are there bright lights? Smells of rubber mats (gym) or incense (yoga studio)? All these things can fill up your histamine/inflammation bucket before you even begin exercising.
If you can’t change the environment or mitigate the effects on you (sunglasses, earplugs, personal air purifier), it might be best to do your workouts on your own turf. You can buy a couple of weights invest in a yoga mat and an $18 subscription to Yogaglo online classes. I promise you won’t regret it.
4) ADD QUERCETIN
I take quercetin for its histamine-lowering effects, but it may also help us incorporate exercise more easily. An 8-week study on men’s badminton players found that this 1000 mg of this bioflavonoid (found in nearly all the foods on my 28-day histamine reset) delayed muscle exhaustion. So hey, it might be a good idea to include a quercetin supplement on a regular basis as well as including plenty of quercetin-rich foods in your diet.
5) TRACK WITH AN APP
Exercise can drive up our histamine levels pretty fast and we can overdo it before we know it. So sometimes it helps to be able to track how much stress the body is under before we take it too far. I invested $10 in the SweetBeat HRV app which measures your resting heart rate and then charts it for you, based on a composite of many measures. In the Financial Times article where I learned about the app, the creator is quoted as saying that the HRV number is “associated with the tone of the vagus nerve”. Apparently, research shows that the numbers are decreased by hard workouts and are affected by emotional stress.
So basically, you test yourself in the morning and when the HRV number plummets, you know it’s time to chill your exercise routine because your body is a little stressed out.
6) FOLLOW EXERCISE WITH MEDITATION
Meditation is a natural DIY antihistamine, so it’s a great way to follow any type of workout. Beyond lowering histamine, it’s interesting that meditation can even help you recover faster. Researchers in a study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine were able to lower blood lactate levels by employing post-exercise meditation. Lactate is the stuff that causes the burning sensation in your muscles and can be a big issue for runners — or even power walkers.
7) DON’T FORGET ABOUT DIET
How you eat before and after you exercise can make a big impact on how your body responds to exercise. And not just on gym day. Keeping your inflammation and histamine levels lower with an anti-inflammatory and antihistamine rich diet will help keep some room in your inflammation bucket so you can get the exercise you need. Go for clean proteins, polyphenol- and flavonoid-rich plant foods, and filtered water as needed.
8) STAY POSITIVE
Remember to stay positive and focus on what’s going well. Don’t give any attention to what you can’t do, how little you can lift, or your lack of stamina. This keeps you in a more inflammatory and stressed state and isn’t good for your histamine levels. Instead, focus on every little improvement you make; every stride; everything that is moving you toward your goals and toward healing.
Need more guidance? Here’s an exact blueprint and four-week histamine reset to take the stress out of healing histamine.
——— REFERENCES ——–
Barrett‐O’Keefe, Z. , Kaplon, R. E. and Halliwill, J. R. (2013), Sustained postexercise vasodilatation and histamine receptor activation following small muscle‐mass exercise in humans. Experimental Physiology, 98: 268-277. doi:10.1113/expphysiol.2012.066605
Daneshvar, Pooya, et al. “Effect of Eight Weeks of Quercetin Supplementation on Exercise Performance, Muscle Damage and Body Muscle in Male Badminton Players.” International Journal of Preventive Medicine, Medknow Publications & Media Pvt Ltd, Apr. 2013, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3665027/.
Solberg EE, Ingjer F, Holen A, et al. Stress reactivity to and recovery from a standardised exercise bout: a study of 31 runners practising relaxation techniques. British Journal of Sports Medicine 2000; 34:268-272.