This article is about histamine intolerance: what it is, how to determine whether you suffer from histamine intolerance, what a low histamine diet looks like, and how you can modify your diet to discover what you are sensitive to.
You’ve likely heard of “histamine intolerance” - here’s some insight on such. Histamine itself is not a problem, it actually serves many purposes within the immune, digestive & nervous systems.
Histamine is a vital signaling molecule in the immune, digestive, and nervous systems. It is released during an immune reaction to help fight a foreign agent or allergen. Histamine triggers the release of stomach acid to help digestion, and it serves as a neurotransmitter, carrying chemical messages between nerve cells.
A brief 101 of how histamine is made & broken down:
Decarboxylase convert amino acids (histidine) to biogenic amines (histamine) by chopping off the carboxyl group. See the imagine below for the specific pathways involved in this process.
what is histamine intolerance
For example, during immune reactions, histamine is released and encourages the immune system to fight pathogens. Within the digestive system, histamine aids in the digestion of food by triggering the release of stomach acid. And in the nervous system, histamine serves as a neurotransmitter, carrying chemical messages between nerve cells & modulating a number of important processes in the brain (wakefulness, cognitive ability and food consumption).
After histamine delivers a message, it’s usually broken down by neutralizing enzymes (DAO & HMNT), and this process allows the body to maintain optimal amounts of histamine.
This is where the potential problems arise, aka histamine intolerance.
Everyone has their own threshold -- a level of histamine they tolerate without symptoms. Intolerance occurs when more histamine accumulates in the body than we are able to break down effectively – so ‘histamine intolerance’ can be viewed as an enzyme deficiency.
Individuals with an inability to breakdown and remove histamine leads to a buildup, and a number of different symptoms.
Symptoms of Histamine Intolerance
Allergic reaction-like symptoms (such as hives, itching, swelling, nasal congestion, and runny nose)
Indigestion, nausea, reflux, or other digestive issues
Note: histamine tolerance can change during different phases of the menstrual cycle.
Symptoms of histamine intolerance arise when more histamine accumulates in the body than what we are able to break down effectively.
The Carnivore Diet & Histamine Intolerance
Here's how to determine whether you are histamine intolerant and how the carnivore diet can help relieve histamine intolerance.
It is estimated that 3-5% of the Western world suffers from histamine intolerance. However, a lot of individuals go undiagnosed, and of this percentage, 80% are middle-aged women.
Histamine intolerance is a symptom of a deeper problem, including:
Gut issues, such as SIBO and Kelly gut. With a combination of a compromised gut lining and inefficient histamine breakdown, histamine can leak through the intestinal lining and cause immune responses.
Genetic abnormalities (low levels) in DAO (diamine oxidase - you can learn more about it here). DAO deficiency accounts for over 70% of all histamine intolerance.
Vitamin and mineral deficiencies, such as Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, Zinc, & Copper), which are required for DAO to properly break down histamines.
Tips to Reduce Histamine Intolerance: Creating a Low Histamine Diet
While histamine is made in the body, levels can be amplified by diet. Some foods are naturally high in histamine, can trigger the release of histamine, or can block the enzymes that break down histamine (DAO and HMNT).
Here are three tips to reduce histamine intolerance symptoms:
Increase DAO levels
DAO is one of the enzymes that breakdown histamine. Beef kidney is high in DAO, so eating more kidney or taking a desiccated kidney pill from NXGEN Wholefoods can help.
- Elevated homocysteine levels
- Hair-trigger temper
- Heavy periods or cramps