Do you suffer from headaches, runny nose, itchy eyes or other respiratory ailments? If you think these issues are just “a part of life,” we want to tell you that you don’t have to muddle through allergy-like symptoms! Sometimes certain ailments can be triggered by specific foods in our diet. In this post, we will discuss 2 possible causes of your annoying symptoms: histamines and IgG food intolerances.

Do I have a histamine intolerance?

You may have heard of someone having a food intolerance, which can present itself as ambiguous respiratory, skin and/or digestive ailments. Click here to find out if you have an IgG food intolerance.

A histamine intolerance, however, can often look or feel similar to an IgG food intolerance. Despite having the term “histamine intolerance,” it is not a “reaction to histamine.” Histamine is a chemical that is naturally produced in your body for protection against allergens. Also, histamines are part of normal digestive and neurological processes. Our bodies can produce histamine on their own, however, we can also get histamines from certain foods.

When we have too much histamine in our body, we start having annoying symptoms like runny nose, headaches, sinus congestion, sleepiness and possible digestion issues. Luckily, those who are concerned that they have too much histamine built up can trial dietary modifications to see if their symptoms improve.

The Low Histamine Diet

While it is best to talk to your doctor to rule out a histamine intolerance versus an IgG food intolerance, here is some more information about how to reduce the amount of histamine you get from food. Ultimately, a low histamine diet can be done as an elimination diet where you temporarily remove potentially problematic foods before strategically reintroducing them into the diet.

It is important to note that more research is needed to understand the effectiveness of a low histamine diet. That being said, however, paying attention to how your body reacts to high histamine foods can be beneficial for recognizing patterns between your eating habits and annoying symptoms. Let’s walk through step by step on how to conduct a low histamine diet:

Step One: Know which foods are typically high in histamines

The histamine content of foods can vary from processing, aging and other factors, however, here are some key foods to eliminate or reduce if you are trying to follow a low histamine diet:

  • Pickled foods
  • Kombucha
  • Cured and/or fermented meats (i.e. sausage, salami)
  • Alcoholic beverages (i.e. beer, wine)
  • Fermented dairy (i.e. Kefir, buttermilk, yogurt)
  • Aged cheeses
  • Fermented grains (i.e. sourdough)
  • Fermented soy foods (i.e. soy sauce, natto, tempeh)
  • Vinegar
  • Tomatoes and ketchup
  • Canned or salted fish (i.e. tuna)
  • Eggplant
  • Citrus

Step Two: Reduce your overall histamine intake

Now that you know the foods that are typically high in histamines, talk to a registered dietitian on how to reduce or eliminate them from the diet. Depending on your nutritional needs, your dietitian may suggest a temporary or long-term elimination of high histamine foods.

Step Three: Record your symptoms

As with any diet that aims to improve annoying ailments, it is essential that you keep a record of your symptoms before, during and after the diet. These records can help you and your healthcare team recognize patterns and determine if they are related to food.

Step Four: Make appropriate dietary changes

Based on symptom patterns, you may need to make dietary changes for the long term. Above all, be sure to talk to your doctor and get personalized nutrition recommendations from a registered dietitian in your area. These healthcare professionals can help you navigate your healthcare needs for success.