Histamine intolerance which at the moment is considered rare and uncommon, but experts have confirmed that it is in the rise. Due to this intolerance being hard to diagnose, many doctors are unfamiliar with it and this is just one of the many reasons it is viewed as rare.
Research has shown that currently at least one percent of the overall population is has a histamine intolerance and middle aged women are the biggest victims, making up almost 80 percent.
What is histamine intolerance?
Histamine intolerance is in fact an imbalance of accumulated and the capacity of histamine degradation suggests the official journal of the German Medical Association. Simply put, patients cannot develop a histamine intolerance, they just have more than enough histamine in their bodies.
Though there are various factors which contribute to the accumulation of extra histamine in the body, most of them are in connection with the disability of the body to degrade histamine in the proper order. Two enzymes are responsible for this degradation:
- N-methyltransferase (HMT), deals with the nervous system
- Diamine oxidase (DAO), breaks down histamine ingested by food
A greater number of histamine intolerance cases are due to the inability of DAO to break down the ingested histamine, which resolves in a rise in histamine levels and some very unpleasant symptoms.
Histamine intolerance symptoms
In such cases when the body is overfilled with histamine and unable to break it down and resolve it, a wide spectrum of symptoms can occur. As we already mentioned, many of these listed symptoms overlap with the symptoms of allergic reactions, therefore it is a good idea to get your histamine levels checked if you are experiencing some the following:
- Vertigo/ dizziness
- Abdominal cramps
- Acid reflux
- Digestive disturbance
- Breathing problems
- Inflammation/ tissue swelling
- Rapid heart rate
- Difficulty sleeping
What causes histamine reactions?
Numerous mostly unrelated factors such as UV light, bacterial overgrowth, gastrointestinal disorders and DAO blockage can be the cause for such reactions.
A variety of gastrointestinal problems can be the cause of histamine intolerance as:
- Leaky gut syndrome
- Small intestine bacterial overgrowth
- Ulcerative colitis
- Gluten sensitivity
- Crohn’s disease
A DAO blockage simply means too little of the enzyme in the body which results in an excess amount of histamine. Furthermore, due to many foods being rich with histamine, individuals which have a DAO deficiency are likely to experience symptoms of intolerance.
Recent theories suggest that an overgrowth of bacteria in the system may produce histamine from the undigested food and cause an extra amount of histamine in the body and lead to intolerance.
What to do if you are suffering from histamine intolerance
Diagnosing a histamine intolerance developed from taking certain medications is much easier than diagnosing an intolerance coming from other causes. Patients have developed a strategy to test their DAO levels in hope of getting an easier diagnosis but unfortunately the tests are not widely available.
In addition, we present you with a couple of strategies to follow if you suspect you have a histamine intolerance.
A great number of patients consider rising their DAO levels the best ways to deal with histamine intolerance. However, the downside to this option is that these supplements are neither cheap nor easy to find. Another way to regulate the histamine intolerance is to take digestive enzymes.
Due to histamine being made of amino acids which derive from proteins and foods rich in protein being harder to digest which makes them a threat for histamine levels. Moreover, when food ages in the gut it is likely to feed bacteria and also more importantly cause histamine levels to elevate.
Low histamine diet
The first thing to make notice of is to avoid protein-rich foods, however there are also various other foods which may be a contribute to a histamine intolerance such as:
- Chocolate and cocoa
- Dried fruit
- Fermented diary products
- Fermented foods as pickles
- Processed meats
Additionally, we must mention that all of the above listed foods have been regularly consumed and it does not necessarily mean that they lead to an intolerance, these refers to individuals who are already experiencing such problems. The foods are nutritious and safe to eat.
Elimination diet is a practice which a big number of patients prefer and take as a first step towards resolving a histamine intolerance. Throughout a period of one to three months all foods which are rich in histamine are avoided and eliminated from the diet in hope of witnessing improvement. After time has passed the histamine-rich foods are gradually incorporated back into the diet.