This time of the year is rife with all sorts of diet plans. There’s just something about that promise of a fresh start in a new year! While many diet plans center around weight loss, others focus on alleviating certain symptoms or conditions.
A low-histamine diet is one plan with the goal of relieving specific symptoms rather than assisting in weight loss. So, just what is a low-histamine diet, and who should try it?
Let’s back up a moment and look at what histamines are. According to Healthline, histamines are a type of chemical. They’re sent out by mast cells as an allergic response, notes Verywell Health.
Some people can’t consume histamines and have what’s commonly known as histamine intolerance. It may be that certain foods higher in histamines could be causing allergy-like symptoms, but it can be challenging to pinpoint particular foods that are the problem.
Some signs of histamine intolerance may include typical seasonal allergy symptoms such as itchiness, watering eyes, or headaches. Other signs might be gastrointestinal discomfort, breaking out in hives, or experiencing hypotension.
However, it is essential to note that there is a difference between a true food allergy and histamine intolerance. Generally speaking, food allergies can be quite severe, and their allergic reactions can even be life-threatening.
If you suspect you have histamine intolerance, you may want to try a low-histamine diet. This type of diet can be especially narrow because it tends to eliminate several foods. Because of this, it’s best that you partner with a doctor or a qualified dietitian who can help you create a low-histamine diet plan that still provides the proper nutrition for your needs.
Sometimes a doctor recommends that a person goes on a low-histamine diet by removing one type of food at a time. That helps determine whether there is a specific food that causes histamine intolerance symptoms. Keeping a diary of every food you consume during this time will be beneficial, as it can help you identify what foods are causing your symptoms. This diary can be via an app, or you can use a good old-fashioned pen and paper.
Another thing to know about low-histamine diets is that they can be really tough to follow, and that goes hand in hand with the elimination of multiple foods. However, the benefit is that following this diet may help alleviate your symptoms.
You and your doctor or dietitian should create a diet plan that suits your needs. It may help to remove some of the foods with the highest histamine levels first. Then, you can ease into eliminating less histamine-rich foods as you get used to removing other foods first.
Your doctor might also recommend that you take a food allergy test before starting this diet. This is done to ensure you don’t have a true food allergy or sensitivity rather than a histamine intolerance.
As you eliminate foods, if your symptoms seem to clear up, your doctor or dietitian may have you add that food back in later on. If the symptoms come back with the food, you can probably determine that the food causes your symptoms. There is no one-size-fits-all approach with elimination diets like this, so work closely with your medical team.
Some foods are low in histamines, while others have much higher levels.
A general rule to follow is that any type of food or beverage that has undergone fermentation or aging will probably be higher in histamines. That may include a range of foods such as sauerkraut, kombucha, cheeses that have been aged, alcohol, yogurts, soy, and more.
Other foods high in histamine include peanuts, egg whites, and certain types of fish. Some vegetables and fruits are even high in histamine, including strawberries, oranges, tomatoes, and eggplant. Unfortunately for chocolate lovers, you’ll want to remove it from your diet if you’re sensitive to histamines.
On the other hand, foods low in histamine include herbs like basil and non-wheat grains like quinoa. You’ll also want to add poultry, salmon, beef, or lamb to your diet. You could try carob instead of chocolates and replace strawberries with apples, grapes, or peaches.
For vegetables, try broccoli, carrots, and onions. Egg yolks are lower in histamines, and you can enjoy almond, cashew, or hemp milk. You may want to try making smoothies with almond milk as a great breakfast option.
For a complete list of what to eat and what not to eat on a low-histamine diet, you may want to look at Verywell Health’s chart.
If you’re wondering if you’re getting too much histamine and it could be causing a runny nose, watery eyes, itchy skin, abdominal pain, or other health conditions, it’s time to seek medical advice. The level of histamine in your body could be the underlying cause of these issues, and the best way to improve your quality of life is to check with a healthcare provider to see if you have a true allergy, if you have histamine intolerance, or if you’re simply experiencing seasonal allergies. It’s a good idea to make a food list and remove high-histamine foods to see if they are the root cause of your symptoms. Taking on a more restrictive diet could cause a significant reduction in any histamine issues you might have.
Low-histamine diets may be beneficial if you’ve been experiencing seemingly unrelated symptoms that you can’t attribute to a specific allergy or sensitivity. Work closely with your doctor and dietitian to develop a low-histamine diet that works best for you.
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