What is histamine?

Histamine is a protein occuring in almost everywhere in the animal and plant kingdom. It can also naturally be found in the human body. In addition, it is also found in many foods, especially when mature or ferment.

The data on histamine intolerance is still very limited. Some scientist actually doubt whether an intolerance does exist or is just an allergy. Others, however, estimate that around one percent of the population suffers from histamine intolerance. 80% of the estimated affected ones are female.

The symptoms of an histamine intolerance are quite similar to those of an allergy. This includes

  • Headache
  • Migraines
  • Dizziness
  • Racing heart
  • Swelling
  • Stomach aches
  • Flushing
  • Itching

Diagnosing histamine intolerance is still a huge problem today that takes up a lot of time and analysis. Histamine intolerance is much more complex than most allergies.

How an histamine intolerance influences your life

There are many types of intolerances that can affect a humans life and diet. One of the booming intolerance is the one against histamine.

Histamine intolerant people experience symptoms of an intolerance after consuming food containing those. The symptoms usually resemble those of an allergy which is why an histamine intolerance is also called a pseudo-allergy.

An histamine intolerance is caused by an enzyme deficiency. Some people break down the histamine derived from food either too slowly or incompletely. The enzyme Diamine Oxidase (DAO) is involved in breaking down histamine. If the enzyme is not avaible in sufficient quantities for histamine digestion, histamine enters the bloodstream and triggers the symptoms that are similar to an allergy.
In order to avoid those symptoms, it is important to keep a healthy and fitting diet for this kind of intolerance. However, finding the right products can be a problem as it is not always clear which products contain histamine and which do not.

But why does so much uncertainity exist regarding histamine intolerance?

There are many reasons why people are still unsure about histamine intolerance:

  • Consuming histamine in large amounts leads to discomfort in every human being
  • Histamine content in foods varies widely: Two equally sized pieces of the same cheese can have different histamine concentrations. Depends on the lengths and circumstances of the maturing process.
  • An enzyme defiency may be the cause but there is no absolute threshold value from which the diagnosis is made: Everyone who might be affected must find their personal tolerance threshold
  • How well a human being tolerates histamine not only depends on quantity of the DAO and the amount of the absorbed histamine but also on other subtances in food consumed: As for an example > alcohol slows down the degradation of histamine even further
  • Even foods without histamine can cause symptoms: Examples for such foods: pineapple, kiwi and strawberries > Contain a very tiny amount of histamine which already activates the body to generate its own

As histamine intolerance is something which still needs a lot of investigation, there is no standard diagnosis or treatment. Therefore, an histamine intolerant person needs to work a lot alone on her/his diet and own treatment.

Dieting healthily with an histamine intolerance

As for every allergy or intolerance, there are also some foods that are no-go for histamine intolerant people.

Histamine intolerant people must stick to low-histamine diet. Foods can be categorized into histamine-rich and low-histamine foods. However, it is important to note that the histamine content in even the same foods can vary a lot!
The histamine concentration strongly depends on maturity, storage condition and processing.

Nevertheless, there are some products that are always critical for histamine intolerant people:

  • Hard cheeses
  • Raw sausage products
  • Processed fish
  • Pickled or fermented food
  • Soy sauce
  • Chocolate
  • Nuts
  • Drinks containing a lot of teein or caffein
  • Alcohol

There are even more foods an histamine intolerant person should be aware of.
Besides, there’s still some discussion about some products whether they contain histamine or not.

Please see also:

Symptoms of Histamine Intolerance

Diagnosing Histamine Intolerance

Therapy for Histamine Intolerance