Did you know that the act of digestion itself causes histamine release ? No, not many people do. I get so many emails from people who are convinced they have multiple amine, food intolerance or allergy issues because they react to everything they ingest. They explore salicylate, amine, oxalate, yeast and other issues obsessively, convinced that
I’ve been exploring the catch-22 of probiotic supplementation for some time now. The dilemma? Probiotics are necessary for proper intestinal function – the histamine lowering enzymes diamine oxidase and monoamine oxidase live there, so fixing up our poop tube seems like a good idea right?
Not so simple.
Probiotic supplements are fermented (a no go for histamine intolerance/histamine related disorders) and some strains actually raise histamine and tyramine in the body. The good news is that strains commonly found in babies can actually lower histamine, helping us fight allergies and lower our overall histamine burden.
Lactobacillus casei (TISTR 389) andLactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus (TISTR 895) were found to produce BA (biogenic amines). The highest levels of histamine (1820.9 ± 3.5 mg L−1) and tyramine (5486.99 ± 47.6 mg L−1) formation were observed for the TISTR 389 strain, while TISTR 895 produced only histamine (459.1 ± 0.63 mg L−1) in the decarboxylase broth. Biogenic amine potential was not observed for the Lactobacillus acidophilus,Lactobacillus lactis subsp. lactis, Lactococcus lactis subsp. lactis, and Lactobacillus plantarum strains studied. This study confirmed that BA formation is strain dependent and not related to the species. Read the full study here.
Lactobacillus casei was shown to produce histamine and tyramine, while Lactobacillus Bulgaricus increased histamine alone.
WHICH FOODS ARE HIGH HISTAMINE? That depends on which list you follow. Histamine in foods varies depending on: the country grown in, whether pesticides were used, climate, transportation, ripeness when picked, how long on the supermarket shelf, bacterial contamination. In particular the level varies in flesh. The reason for which is that bacteria release histamine
I’m taking a number of steps to help my body recover from any inadvertent histamine hiccups (ahem, cupcake incidents) I may subject it to. One of them is the food-coaching course I’m taking with my nutritional hero Dr. Fuhrman, and an intensive immersion into herbalism, which I’m sure to expand upon in coming years. I’m currently devouring the modern herbalism bible I’ve seen the Whole Foods naturopathic gurus toting when in deep consult with customers. I naturally started in the immune system chapter where I came across yet another ayurvedic miracle herb.
Update: nowadays I wish I hadn’t tried so hard to play histamine detective. In the end I believe it became counter productive, causing my amygdala to become hypersensitised and give me a fear of food. Read all about that here.
My decade (plus) as a journalist for CNN and the BBC definitely prepared me to deal with a pesky nuisance like my histamine disorder (be it histamine intolerance or whatever). When faced with a seemingly insurmountable problem – I just take a step back and figure out how the hell to make it work. There is no “can’t” in my vocabulary. Be it chartering private helicopters to airlift equipment, bribing ship captains to let us stow away, or finagleling team visas to Libya on two hours notice (in the Gaddafi years!) – I’ve done it all. So there’s no way I’m letting something like food (or illness) rule my life. I’ve outlined my approach to histamine/inflammation detoxing in my ebook the Anti-Detox – usually employing it before a big client presentation (this histamine chef thing is a side project for me) or when having to fly out to hot climates like Kenya, Morocco, and Egypt, all this last year.
Heat, as you may know, causes mast cells to degranulate, releasing their precious histamine cargo right into your bloodstream. There’s nothing like quite like turning beet red and blowing up into the Michelin man the minute you step off a plane to make you appreciate a good low histamine detox before traveling.
Now I’m going to cover what I believe to be one of the key secrets of successful low histamine living. It sounds so very basic that you may initially laugh: you need to know what food or cosmetic is causing which reaction. Simple right? But I can’t tell you how many emails I receive asking for diet analysis. I don’t mind doing it, but it must be so frustrating living a life where every little thing could be causing distress and there’s no way to figure out what’s what. I’m greatly indebted to Dr Fuhrman’s teachings on this one, as I figured out what was wrong with me initially after going on a three-day water fast. For crystal clear clarity there’s nothing quite like starting with as clean a slate as possible. Nowadays, I don’t do water fasts as any kind of stress can cause mast cells to release histamine – and I‘ve learned the hard way that kicking your body into survival mode definitely isn’t relaxing. The next best thing is the overnight semi fast (sleep!)…
THIS IS AN OLD POST, BUT RELEVANT TO PEOPLE STARTING OUT. CLICK HERE TO LEARN HOW I MOVED PAST THE ELIMINATION. THE LOW HISTAMINE DETOX WEEK 1 BLOOD. I NEED BLOOD! I’ve just had my blood work done. Not only will your test results tell you it’s safe to embark on a high nutrient
I’m not just going for a catchy headline here – turns out that valerian root is not only a powerful anxiolytic (natural chill out pill) overall, it’s also an antihistamine which helps with menstrual cramps. I mean seriously, the study is actually called: Relaxing effects of Valeriana officinalis extracts on isolated human non-pregnant uterine muscle.
Here’s an interesting headline for you: nightshade flower as effective a mast cell stabiliser as commonly prescribed sodium cromoglycate. This definitely brought a smile to my face, given that most of us in the allergic world only have to hear the word nightshade to run a mile in the opposite direction. It also confirmed that some foods we’re told are bad for histamine related conditions, may have benefits that far outweigh the modest amount of histamine they release. Unless you’re allergic to them!
AS EFFECTIVE AS COMMONLY PRESCRIBED MAST CELL STABILISER/ANTIHISTAMINE
A lot of people ask me how I’ve got from total histamine intolerance breakdown to where I am. While I do believe my recovery is still a work in progress, I thought I’d share how a combination of militant food planning, 30 minutes of inflammation fighting yoga and daily chanting (OM!) have allowed me to reach a far better place than I have ever been.
Thanks to my years studying nutrition (unofficially) through the teachings of Drs Fuhrman, Weil, Oz and others, I was well aware my new low histamine diet had the potential to be unhealthy and counter-productive, if applied strictly, and blindly.
To acknowledge something and to implement it are two very different things. It took me a while to get my sea legs. I floundered around for some time, terrified to add new foods or even entertain the idea of being proactive in my recovery. But I knew I had to take action when I began to approach meal time with fear and hatred, focusing on the food rather than the state of my broken body and mind. I was now eating the same five foods every single day, usually in large amounts, not understanding why I wasn’t “recovering”.
UPDATE: there is a ton of misinformation flying around on the internet. I’m constantly flummoxed by how people will attribute feeling awful to chickpeas or a banana rather than the taco bell, potato chips or chocolate they also had. I have yet to see any scientific study showing high histamine content in chickpeas. On the
Do you spend hours roaming the supermarket in search of a quick meal? Are you bored with eating the same five foods over and over? Would you like to whip up nutritious, low histamine recipes in 20 minutes (or less)? Then make sure you’re signed up to my newsletter for an exclusive 10% discount on the 60+ page Low Histamine ‘On the Go’ Cookbook!
The Low Histamine ‘On the Go’ Cookbook takes you on a whirlwind tour of Vietnam, Lebanon, Italy and India, via the good ol’ US of A. Eating healthy’s NEVER tasted so good, or this easy.
WHO AM I?
YASMINA YKELENSTAM – THE LOW HISTAMINE CHEF
The fridge and fields are my medicine cabinet. I’ve managed to withdraw from all pharmaceuticals including: anti-histamines, anti-anxiety meds, antidepressants, migraine, nausea, and dizziness meds. I’m now the happiest and healthiest I’ve ever been. I’ve learned to harness the positives that high histamine bestows (appetite suppression, higher metabolism, energy) and make them work for me!
Who the hell am I to give dietary advice? My cookbooks reflect the incredible amount of research into histamine and other biogenic amines in food that I’ve obsessively collected over the last two years since my histamine intolerance diagnosis. As a former journalist with over 10 years research and international news production experience for 60 Minutes, CNN and the BBC, I know how important the facts are. Not only do I back up each claim on my site with numerous studies, I’ve even used myself as a guinea pig, taking myself from washed up medical mystery to successful 21st century businesswoman.
I suffered daily migraines for many years. At some point I finally came to the conclusion that my headaches, which made me bang my head against the wall on occasion, had something to do with my diet. I was vindicated by the person who diagnosed me with histamine intolerance in London, and now by the growing number of studies clearly spelling out the allergy/histamine migraine link.
I cannot even begin to properly thank my lucky stars for curing me of this blight. I was about six weeks into the low histamine diet when I was able to trash the 600mg ibuprofen that I had been scarfing daily by the handful for most of my adult life. Not to mention the migraine injections. Youch! You truly haven’t experienced hell till you’ve had a constant migraine for six months.
Interestingly, in Spain (and France), it’s commonly acknowledged that migraines are caused by a lack of the histamine-lowering enzyme diamine oxidase (DAO). Seems that the US and UK are way behind the curve on this one.