Low Histamine Diet Starter Guide

May 19, 2024 9 mins to read
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Histamine sensitivity, or histamine intolerance, can cause a range of symptoms that often feel like allergic reactions. These symptoms happen because of too much histamine building up in the body, affecting various systems. Common symptoms include headaches or migraines, hives and itching, nasal congestion and runny nose, flushing, and digestive issues like bloating and diarrhea. For those dealing with histamine intolerance, changing their diet is key to feeling better. A low-histamine diet can help reduce symptoms by cutting down on foods and drinks that are high in histamine or trigger its release. Knowing which foods to avoid and which ones are safe can make a big difference in managing histamine intolerance and keeping a balanced diet.

Histamine Sensitivity Symptoms

Below is a list of symptoms indicating a sensitivity to histamine:

  • Gastrointestinal Symptoms
    • Bloating
    • Diarrhea
    • Abdominal pain and cramps
    • Nausea and vomiting
  • Skin Symptoms
    • Hives (urticaria)
    • Itching
    • Eczema or worsening of existing skin conditions
    • Flushing (redness of the skin)
  • Respiratory Symptoms
    • Nasal congestion
    • Runny nose (rhinitis)
    • Sneezing
    • Wheezing and asthma-like symptoms
    • Shortness of breath
  • Cardiovascular Symptoms
    • Low blood pressure (hypotension)
    • Rapid heart rate (tachycardia)
    • Heart palpitations
  • Neurological Symptoms
    • Headaches or migraines
    • Dizziness or vertigo
    • Fatigue
    • Anxiety
  • Other Symptoms
    • Menstrual irregularities
    • Difficulty regulating body temperature
    • Swelling of tissues (edema)

Histamine Sensitivity Triggers and Exacerbating Factors

Certain factors can exacerbate or worsen histamine intolerance symptoms, including:

  • Consumption of histamine-rich foods: Aged cheeses, fermented foods, alcohol, processed meats, and certain fish (e.g., tuna, mackerel). More info below.
  • Foods that release histamine: Tomatoes, strawberries, chocolate, and certain spices.
  • Medications: Some medications can block the enzyme diamine oxidase (DAO), which breaks down histamine, exacerbating symptoms.
  • Alcohol and caffeine: These can inhibit DAO activity.

Low Histamine Diet | Basic Rules

  1. Fresh Foods: Opt for fresh foods rather than processed ones. Fresh fruits and vegetables, fresh meat, poultry, and fish are generally lower in histamine compared to their processed counterparts.
  2. Low-Histamine Vegetables: Include vegetables such as leafy greens, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, cucumber, carrots, and potatoes.
  3. Fresh Fruits: Stick to fresh fruits like apples, pears, berries (except strawberries), cherries, and citrus fruits like oranges and lemons.
  4. Fresh Meat and Poultry: Choose fresh meat and poultry over processed or aged meats. Avoid processed meats like sausages, salami, and hot dogs.
  5. Fresh Fish: Freshly caught or freshly frozen fish is preferable. Avoid aged or smoked fish.
  6. Grains: Most grains are considered low in histamine, so include rice, quinoa, oats, and gluten-free options if needed. For bread – Sourdough and gluten free options tend to be lowest in histamines.
  7. Dairy Alternatives: Opt for dairy alternatives like coconut milk, or rice milk instead of dairy products, which can be high in histamine.
  8. Herbs and Spices: Use fresh herbs and spices in cooking instead of pre-packaged ones. Fresh herbs like parsley, basil, and cilantro are good choices.
  9. Cooking Methods: Choose cooking methods that don’t involve long cooking times or fermentation, such as grilling, baking, or steaming.
  10. Avoid Fermented Foods: Fermented foods like aged cheese, sauerkraut, kimchi, and fermented soy products (like soy sauce and miso) are high in histamine and should be avoided.
  11. Limit Alcohol and Vinegar: Alcoholic beverages, especially wine and beer, as well as vinegar-containing foods like pickles and mustard, can be high in histamine.
  12. Be Mindful of Leftovers: Leftover foods can accumulate histamine over time, so it’s best to consume freshly prepared meals whenever possible.

Low Histamine Diet | Foods to Avoid

  1. Fermented Dairy Products: aged cheese, blue cheese, camembert, brie, and goat cheese
  2. Fermented Vegetables: sauerkraut, kimchi, and pickles
  3. Fermented Soy Products: soy sauce, miso, and tempeh
  4. Processed Meats: salami, pepperoni, ham, bacon, and sausages
  5. Aged or Smoked Meats: aged beef, smoked fish, and smoked ham
  6. Canned Fish: canned tuna, canned sardines, and canned mackerel
  7. Shellfish: shrimp, crab, and lobster
  8. Fermented Beverages: wine (especially red wine), beer, and champagne
  9. Fermented Grains: fermented breads (such as sourdough) and yeast extracts
  10. Vinegar-containing Foods: pickled vegetables, mustard, ketchup, and salad dressings containing vinegar
  11. Certain Fruits: strawberries, pineapple, and citrus fruits (oranges, lemons, limes) in large quantities.
  12. Dried Fruits: Commons ones are raisins, apricots, and prunes, can be high in histamines due to the drying process.
  13. Certain Vegetables: spinach, tomatoes, and eggplant
  14. Fermented Condiments: soy sauce, fish sauce, and Worcestershire sauce
  15. Fermented Beverages: kombucha and some herbal teas (especially those containing hibiscus or chamomile)
  16. Leftovers: leftover foods may accumulate histamine over time, so it’s best to consume freshly prepared meals whenever possible.
  17. Nuts: While not inherently high in histamines, nuts can become contaminated with molds, which produce histamines during storage. Examples include peanuts, almonds, walnuts, cashews, and pistachios.
  18. Beer: Beer can be high in histamines. During the fermentation process of beer, histamine can be produced by certain bacteria and yeast. Additionally, some beers contain added ingredients or preservatives that can further contribute to histamine levels.
  19. Others: Dark chocolate

Low Histamine Diet | Foods to Consume

  1. Proteins: fresh chicken breasts, fresh turkey, fresh beef (lean cuts), fresh fish (salmon, cod, haddock), fresh shellfish (shrimp, crab, lobster), eggs
  2. Vegetables: Spinach, Kale, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Zucchini, Carrots, Cucumber, Bell peppers, Lettuce (varieties like romaine, iceberg), Sweet potatoes, Green beans, Squash (like butternut squash)
  3. Fruits: Apples, Pears, Berries (blueberries, raspberries, blackberries), Cherries, Kiwi, Pineapple, Melons (watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew), Citrus fruits (oranges, lemons, limes), Mangoes, Papayas
  4. Grains and Legumes: Rice (white, brown, basmati), Quinoa, Oats, Lentils, Chickpeas, Black beans, Kidney beans
    • For Baked Goods sourdough and gluten free options tend to be lowest in histamines
  5. Dairy Alternatives: Almond milk, Coconut milk, Rice milk
  6. Herbs and Spices: Parsley, Basil, Cilantro, Dill, Thyme, Rosemary, Ginger, Turmeric
  7. Other: Olive oil, Coconut oil, Honey (in moderation)

Low Histamine Diet | Tips and Tricks

  • Read Labels: Check processed food labels for high-histamine ingredients or additives.
  • Keep a Food Diary: Track your meals and symptoms to identify and avoid problem foods.
  • Cook at Home: Control ingredients and avoid hidden high-histamine foods by preparing your own meals.
  • Freeze Leftovers: Freeze leftovers immediately to slow histamine production. Thaw in the fridge and eat promptly.
  • Stay Hydrated: Drink at least 8 glasses of water daily to help your body eliminate histamines.
  • Consult a Professional: Get personalized advice from a dietitian knowledgeable about histamine intolerance. Book a virtual appointment.

Low Histamine Diet 1 Week Meal Plan & Grocery List

Download my Low Histamine Diet PDF Starter Guide for a 1 week meal plan, with a grocery list. And book a virtual appointment with a nutrition professional, if you want a full 1 month meal plan tailored to your specific preferences and needs.

JDs Low Histamine Diet Starter Guide (Printable) PDF

Supplements to Help with Histamine Sensitivity

  1. Quercetin: Quercetin is a natural antihistamine that stabilizes mast cells, reducing histamine release and alleviating allergy symptoms.
  2. Vitamin C: Vitamin C helps degrade histamine in the body, reducing symptoms like nasal congestion and skin issues.
  1. DAO Enzyme (Diamine Oxidase): DAO enzyme supplements support the breakdown of histamine in the digestive tract, reducing digestive symptoms related to histamine intolerance.
  2. Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine): Vitamin B6 acts as a co-factor for the DAO enzyme, enhancing the body’s ability to process histamine and alleviate related symptoms.
  3. Probiotics: Certain probiotic strains, such as Lactobacillus rhamnosus and Bifidobacterium longum, help balance gut flora and reduce histamine production, improving overall gut health.

Conclusion

In summary, dealing with histamine sensitivity, or histamine intolerance, can feel like really bad case of allergies. From pesky headaches to frustrating digestive issues, it’s clear that too much histamine in the body can really make things a challenge. Fortunately diet changes can make a huge difference. By following a low-histamine diet—swapping out high-histamine foods for fresh (low-histamine) alternatives, people can greatly improve their histamine symptoms. It’s all about understanding what to eat and what to avoid, along with some helpful tips like keeping a food diary and staying hydrated. And for personalized guidance, booking a virtual appointment with nutrition professional, can be a game-changer. So, with a bit of dietary effort and support, individuals can improve their histamine sensitivity symptoms, improve their overall health to feel better and be happier!

Disclaimer

The information provided in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any health care agency or government entity in Canada or the United States.

References

  1. Maintz, L., & Novak, N. (2007). Histamine and histamine intolerance. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 85(5), 1185-1196.
  2. Comas-Basté, O., Sánchez-Pérez, S., Veciana-Nogués, M. T., Latorre-Moratalla, M. L., & Vidal-Carou, M. C. (2019). Histamine intolerance: The current state of the art. Biomolecules, 10(1), 118.
  3. Wantke, F., Gotz, M., & Jarisch, R. (1993). Histamine-free diet: Treatment of choice for histamine-induced food intolerance and supporting treatment for chronic headaches. Clinical and Experimental Allergy, 23(12), 982-985.
  4. Guida, B., De Martino, C., De Martino, S., Tritto, G., Patella, V., Trio, R., & Pecoraro, P. (2000). Histamine plasma levels and elimination diet in chronic idiopathic urticaria. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 54(2), 155-158.
  5. Kovacova-Hanuskova, E., Buday, T., Gavliakova, S., & Plevkova, J. (2015). Histamine, histamine intoxication and intolerance. Allergologia et Immunopathologia, 43(5), 498-506.

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