If you've ever eaten chocolate, yogurt, or even last night's leftovers, it is highly likely that you've consumed foods containing high levels of histamine. Histamine is a chemical that is crucial to our immune system, regulating inflammation and allergic reactions, as well as playing an important role in gut the gut and acting as a neurotransmitter between cells. Histamine is naturally produced by the body and naturally occurring in many common foods and drinks. If you suffer from allergies and have ever taken "antihistamines" for relief, you may realize that histamines are the key mediators in causing common allergy symptoms.
There can be variety or reasons why someone might suffer from abnormally high levels of histamine in the body, creating a host of unpleasant symptoms. If these underlying issues are not addressed, a person can experience reactions to foods/drinks high in histamine, known as histamine intolerance.
What is histamine intolerance?
Care2 writes that, in the medical community, histamine intolerance can be difficult to diagnosis and treat, as its causes are "poorly understood." What medical experts do know about this condition is that it develops due to a combined increased availability of histamine and less enzymes present in your body to break down excess histamines and remove them from your system.
"Symptoms of histamine intolerance vary from person to person."
The symptoms of histamine intolerance vary greatly from person to person. Most people suffering from this condition experience skin conditions and rashes, respiratory problems, dizziness, flushing and headaches, along with dizziness and low blood pressure.
Being on the GAPS Diet with histamine intolerance
Dr. Campbell-McBride believes overproduction of histamine in the body is due to systemic inflammation in the body as it tries to deal with pathogenic microbes and other toxins. She has also stated that particular strains of pathogenic bacteria within the GI tract can produce histamine and actually block specific enzymes responsible for processing histamine, especially diamine oxidase. While the GAPS Diet is a wonderful digestive healing protocol that helps people address a wide variety of health issues, some of the staple foods advocated through the diet could be a challenge for those suffering from a histamine intolerance, especially meat stocks/bone broths, fermented vegetables and dairy, and nuts/nut flours.
Although broth is touted as an essential part of healing the gut lining, broth that is cooked over a long period of time will contain higher levels of histamine. In order to avoid this, you should only consume meat stock that is cooked over a short time frame, and introduce it into your diet very gradually, starting with only a few tablespoons in order to observe for any negative reactions. Dr. Campbell-McBride has recommended fermenting vegetables at home for a minimum of 7-10 days, depending on the weather. However, fermenting vegetables for a minimum of 1-4 months (you can ferment for 6 months and even longer) will lower the amount of histamine contained in your cultures. Honest Body recommends following anaerobic fermentation methods and fermenting food for at least two weeks prior to consumption.
For those who are especially sensitive to any foods containing higher levels of histamine, avoiding all culprits temporarily may help, including alcohol, tea, coffee, all fermented foods, nuts, and cheese. In addition, introducing probiotic supplements that contain specific strains of bacteria known to lower histamine, such as Bifidobacterium lactis and bifidobacterium longum, and avoiding stains known to increase histamine production, such as lactobacillus acidophilus, may be beneficial. Taking specific enzymes such as bromelain and quercetin, in conjunction with Vitamin C may also help combat histamine intolerance.
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