According to the dictionary, a His-ta-mine is a “compound that is released by cells in response to injury and in allergic and inflammatory reactions, causing contraction of smooth muscle and a dilation of capillaries.” Basically it’s chemical that causes an immediate inflammatory response after coming in contact with any pollen, dandruff, food or drink item ( just to name a few) that your body deems a potential threat. Histamines are involved in your immune system, proper digestion and nervous system.
It works a bit like this: imagine a sesame allergy. When you eat sesame, histamine automatically inflames your blood vessels. This lets your body know it needs to send as many white blood cells – the kinds that attack infection – to the affected areas as possible. However, too much histamine sent at once can obviously cause a severe allergic reaction that, if not treated quickly, can cause anaphylaxis.
However, it’s also possible to have too much or too little histamine present in your immune system – even if you’re not highly allergic to a particular food and don’t have seasonal allergies. When your levels of histamine aren’t regulated, it can cause many unpleasant symptoms that most people don’t relate to diet such as asthma, panic attacks, PMS and sleep problems.
Nearly all foods contain at least a little histamine, so it’s impossible to avoid it completely. However some foods are MUCH higher or lower then others. Regardless of your need (more or less histamine) here is a list of ten different foods that are either high or low in histamine. This list should help you make better dietary choices, leading to a greater overall health.
High – Fermented alcohol
If you enjoy a drink every now and then, it’s unlikely fermented alcohol – such as wine, champagne, and beer – will have an effect one way or another on your histamine level. However, if you consume it more then three times a week and find yourself suffering from histamine intolerance (the symptoms of which closely mimic regular allergies) then you’ll have to look into reducing your intake of alcoholic.
High – Cured meat
Bacon may feed the soul, but aside from being outrageously high in fat and sugar, cured bacon is also high in histamine. The same goes for any cured meat – that is, it’s set to “marinade” in usually sugary or savory solutions before being packaged and shipped to your local grocery store – such as salami, deli meats, and most hot dogs. Red meat, such as steak or hamburger, are much better choices.
High – Citrus
Oranges, grapefruits, lemons, and limes are all high in histamine. They’re also high in citric acid which is especially harmful for the health of your tooth enamel. While that may not seem like a big deal on the surface, if your teeth become weakened due to excessive contact with citric acid, and you develop a histamine intolerance and have too much in your body, you could end up with some serious health problems. It’s worth your time to pay attention to you citrus intake, for both your histamine level and your teeth.
High – Vegetables
Finally! It’s the excuse you’ve been waiting for to get you out of the nightly serving of vegetables inevitably heaped on your plate.Well, don’t get too excited right off the bat. Not all vegetables are high in histamine. The ones that are high in histamine are avocados, eggplant, spinach, and tomatoes (If you’ve ever gone for allergy testing, most people show a slight allergy to these foods). Avocado and tomatoes are probably the most popular in that list – and therefore the most difficult to avoid. However, with a bit of planning and recipe searches for alternate ways to cook your favorite meal (spaghetti sauce made with non-cured meat, for example) can help you get around the issue of not being able to indulge in a fantastic taco dip or MealDiva’s homemade salsa.
High – Fish
If you’re a big fish fan but have too much histamine in your diet, you’ll likely need to cut back. Most smoked fish is high in histamine, in addition to mackerel, mahi-mahi, tuna, anchovies, and sardines. For most people, finding fish substitutes for mahi-mahi and tuna will be difficult. However, halibut and salmon are both viable options, in addition to cod or wild-caught trout. Regardless, you don’t want to have your fish smoked. Smoking fish subjects them to a very similar treatment (as seen with cured meats, which are also on the high histamine list).
Low – Eggs
Your breakfast of bacon and eggs isn’t quite lost! You’ll just have to cut out the bacon. Eggs are a great low-histamine food, so if you’re transitioning from a high-histamine to a low-histamine diet, you’ll be set for any of your favorite omelets or other egg-based dishes. While you need to watch what you put in your omelets – avoid the diced ham, bacon, etc. – bell peppers, cheese, and steak are yummy low-histamine additions that can add some fantastic flavors to your morning meal!
Low – Pure peanut butter
The peanut butter and jelly sandwich may be the most iconic sandwich ever made, and for good reason – they’re oddly satisfying. This is great news for any peanut butter lovers out there, as the pure peanut butter (nothing but crushed peanuts and a bit of sugar or oil) is a low-histamine food that some would argue tastes better than the processed version.
Low – Fresh fruit
You can still have plenty of different fruit if you need more low-histamine food in your diet. Fruits such as mangoes, pears, watermelon, kiwi, and grapes are a low in histamine.
Low – Tea
If you’re a big tea fan, you can keep on drinking! Leafy and herbal teas are low-histamine and provide some of the same antioxidants and immune-boosting effects vegetables do – without the added histamine.
Low – Fresh meat
Finally, make sure that if you’re eating meat it’s fresh.The least fresh, the more histamine it will contain. That leftover chicken salad in your fridge can do more harm then good the longer it’s left there!
This list is intended to be a jumping-off point in your quest to improve your health and balance your histamine levels. If you have further questions about histamine and how it may or may not be affecting you, contact your doctor to have specific testing done. If you would like more information before seeking medical advice, feel free to leave a comment below or reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Cheers!
Disclaimer: The list of foods is from a Nature Sunshine Products article and all information provided is from my own experience and aren’t meant to cure of treat infections or diseases.