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Could histamine intolerance be causing your symptoms?

Have you heard of histamine intolerance? If you say no, then you are probably not alone! Histamine intolerance is a relatively unknown phenomonem, which can result in a number of symptoms throughout the body.

Histamine is compound that is released by the body as part of an immune response. Histamine is produced by basophils and mast cells which help to trigger an inflammatory response within the body.

Histamine intolerance is when the total body level of histamine exceeds the bodies ability to break the histamine down.

Histamine that has been consumed from a food at a level of more than 2.7 mg/kg body weight can induce symptoms of histamine intolerance, some people who are more sensitive may experience symptoms when consuming much lower levels than these.

Reasons as to why some people may be more sensitive to histamine level release in the body is genetics, disease, various abnormal physiological conditions, and medications.

Because it travels throughout your bloodstream, histamine can affect your gut, lungs, skin, brain, and entire cardiovascular system, contributing to a wide range of problems often making it difficult to pinpoint what is causing the symptoms

Some comma symptoms of histamine intolerance include the following:


Hay fever


Difficulty falling asleep, easily arousal


Vertigo or dizziness

Arrhythmia, or accelerated heart rate

Difficulty regulating body temperature


How do we get this overload of histamine? Well it generally comes from our diets. Below are some general guidelines for where you will find high levels of histamine.

• Avoid or reduce eating canned foods and ready meals

• Avoid or reduce eating ripened and fermented foods (older cheeses, alcoholic drinks, products containing yeast, stale fish)

• Histamine levels in foods vary, depending on how ripe, matured or hygienic the foods are

• As much as it is possible, only buy and eat fresh products

• Don’t allow foods to linger outside the refrigerator – especially meat products

• Everyone has their own threshold; you will need to find yours

High histamine level foods:

• Alcohol

• Pickled or canned foods – sauerkrauts

• Matured cheeses

• Smoked meat products – salami, ham, sausages….

• Shellfish

• Beans and pulses – chickpeas, soy beans, peanuts

• Nuts – walnuts, cashew nuts

• Chocolates and other cocoa based products

• Vinegar

• Ready meals

• Salty snacks, sweets with preservatives and artificial colourings

Histamine liberators- These foods trigger the release of more histamine from the body.

• Most citric fruits – kiwi, lemon, lime, pineapple, plums…

• Cocoa and chocolate

• Nuts

• Papaya

• Beans and pulses

• Tomatoes

• Wheat germ

• Additives – benzoate, sulphites, nitrites, glutamate, food dyes

SO what can we do to help reduce symptoms of histamine intolerance?

It all comes down to the individual, because as mentioned above people can display symptoms of histamine intolerance due to many different reasons.

What we need to do is figure out what the cause is for you, and work backwards from there.

For some people the liver needs addressing, as the liver is responsible for breaking down histamine levels, so when there is an overload we need to look how the liver is breaking histamine down and clearing it from the body.

For other people we need to look at how gut function is working and how readily the histamine is able to be passed into the blood stream. Leaky gut can be a big contributor for histamine intolerance.

And sometimes it all comes down to genetics, and we need to work out what level of histamine your body can tolerate and design a diet to suit it.

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