Now that I’ve discussed the underlying causes of histamine intolerance, let’s dig into treatment options! Usually, a combination of dietary, nutritional, and lifestyle interventions can make a significant difference in symptoms when it comes to histamine intolerance. I recommend starting with dietary changes.
Eat a low-histamine diet
The first step in correcting histamine intolerance is to follow a low-histamine diet for at least six weeks; this will give your body sufficient time to clear excess histamine and dampen inflammation. Here are my guidelines for a low-histamine diet:
High-histamine foods to avoid:
- Microbiologically-produced foods: Yogurt, buttermilk, kefir, mature cheese, sauerkraut, kimchi, pickles, kombucha, soy sauce, fish sauce, black tea, coffee, chocolate
- Processed, smoked, and fermented meats: Sausage, pepperoni, salami
- Alcohol: Red wine, white wine, champagne, cider, beer
- Yeasty foods: Bread
- Spinach, tomatoes, citrus fruits, strawberries, kiwi, pineapple, avocado
- Peanuts, cashews, walnuts
- Canned, smoked, or fermented seafood
- Eggs (are only problematic for some histamine-intolerant people)
Focus on eating the following low-histamine foods:
- Organic meats and poultry, fresh fish
- Vegetables: Squash, leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, carrots, onions, shallots, sweet potatoes, turnips, zucchini
- Fruits: Apples, nectarines, berries, watermelon
- Fats: olive oil, coconut oil, ghee, coconut butter
- Gluten-free grains: Quinoa, rice, buckwheat
- Legumes: Chickpeas, lentils, kidney beans (ideally, these should be fresh rather than canned)
The key to eating a low-histamine diet is to choose fresh foods. Even leftovers can be problematic for some people because the longer cooked food sits in the fridge, the more opportunity there is for bacteria to grow in the food and produce histamine as a byproduct.
In addition to eating fresh foods, add foods and herbs with natural antihistamine properties to your diet. Here’s a list of my favorite natural antihistamine foods:
- Watercress (1)
- Apples (2)
- Pomegranate (3)
- Ginger (4)
- Pea sprouts (5)
- Onion (6)
- Garlic (7)
- Thyme (8)
- Tarragon (9)
- Black cumin seed oil (10)
Repair leaky gut and correct gut dysbiosis
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The treatment of leaky gut and intestinal dysbiosis with probiotics and antimicrobials can be a game-changer in the mission to resolve histamine intolerance. I recommend ProBiota HistaminX, a probiotic that supports histamine degradation because it contains histamine-degrading bacteria. It is well-tolerated by histamine-sensitive individuals. Soil-based microorganisms, which are often histamine neutral or histamine degrading, are also beneficial because they can reduce bacterial overgrowth and repair leaky gut.
Optimize methylation and gene expression
As I mentioned in Part 1, methylation is a crucial pathway for breaking down histamine. Correcting deficiencies of nutrients involved in methylation can help optimize gene expression and enhance histamine degradation. The nutrients needed to optimize methylation in your body will depend on your unique genetic profile. However, there are a few nutritional rules of thumb that can help ensure you are getting enough methylation-supportive nutrients in your diet.
- Eat dark leafy greens: These are a rich source of methylfolate, which is a crucial cofactor in the methylation cycle. Folate is also found in legumes, such as chickpeas and lentils, and beef liver.
- Eat B12-rich foods: Vitamin B12 is found almost exclusively in animal foods such as red meat, chicken, turkey, and seafood. The two exceptions are purple laver, a type of seaweed, and wild mushroom such as chanterelle, black trumpet, and shiitake mushrooms, which contain active B12 compounds.
- Eat choline-rich foods: Choline is a vitamin-like essential nutrient that is converted into betaine in the body. Betaine is a key part of the methylation cycle. The foods richest in choline are egg yolks and beef liver. Nuts and cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower) also contain choline, but you need to eat at least 200 g to get the same amount of choline as 1 egg yolk.
- Diversify your protein intake: Animal proteins such as poultry, red meat, fish, eggs, and dairy supply methionine. an amino acid needed for the methylation cycle.
Eating the foods discussed above will provide you with all the nutrients needed for methylation. However, if you want to learn how to support your unique genetic snps, consider speaking with a healthcare professional who specializes in the topic.
Clean up your environment
Make sure your living and work environments are clean and free of allergens and other inflammatory substances, such as mold. If you know your home has sustained water damage or suspect a mold problem, I first recommend doing an ERMI (Environmental Relative Moldiness) test. You can order the test through Mycometrics.
Some other steps you can take to clean up your environment include putting dust mite covers on pillows and mattresses, getting your air ducts cleaned, and investing in a high-quality air purifier such as an IQ Air machine.
Take natural antihistamines
There are a variety of natural substances that can help ease the symptoms of histamine intolerance without the side effects associated with pharmaceutical antihistamines.
- DAO enzymes such as those found in Histamine Block, are especially helpful for preventing and reducing food-induced histamine reactions. I suggest Seeking Health’s Histamine Block, which contains DAO along with vitamin C, another natural antihistamine.
- Quercetin is a phytonutrient found in fruits, vegetables, and herbs that is a potent anti-inflammatory and natural antihistamine. (11) My favorite quercetin supplement is Thorne Research Quercetin Phytosome.
- Vitamin C destroys the ring-shaped structure of the histamine molecule, and thus serves as a natural antihistamine. (12) I recommend taking vitamin C as a supplement and getting it in your diet from low-histamine fruits and vegetables such as kiwi, raspberries, blueberries, watermelon, broccoli, kale, and cauliflower.
- Stinging nettle is an herb that has anti-inflammatory and antihistamine properties. (13) I recommend Gaia Herb’s Nettle Leaf.
- Moringa stabilizes mast cells (immune cells that release histamine). (14)
- Holy Basil is a mast cell stabilizer and antihistamine. (15) I recommend Gaia Herb’s Holy Basil.
- Cat’s Claw modulates the immune system and may help quench the inflammatory response that contributes to histamine intolerance.
Lindsay Christensen is a health writer and researcher with her B.S. in Biomedical Science and an Emphasis in Nutrition. She is currently pursuing her M.S. in Human Nutrition, with the intention of becoming a Clinical Nutritionist. Lindsay’s passion for natural health and wellness has been driven by her own experience in recovering from a serious chronic illness. She blogs about chronic illness recovery and her nature-inspired approach to nutrition and healthy living on her website, Ascent to Health: https://www.ascent2health.com/. In her free time, she can be found outdoors rock climbing and hiking, enjoying the beauty and healing power of nature.