Do You Have a Histamine Intolerance?
Last updated: March 2020
We know that a healthy diet can have a positive impact on reducing symptoms of chronic illness such as endometriosis. Eliminating dairy and even gluten have shown to be especially helpful.
But what about histamine foods? They’re starting to get attention lately and some are even finding them to be helpful in reducing the symptoms of endometriosis. Histamines are chemicals made by the body and are actually helpful to our immune system.
However, if you have an intolerance to them – meaning that your body has more histamine than it can handle or more than it can break down – it can cause a host of symptoms including:
- Heavy periods
- Period pain
What is histamine intolerance?
Histamine intolerance is not widely recognized in the medical community, so keep that in mind if/when having a conversation about it with your physician. That said, many people are finding relief from these symptoms through histamine reduction.
Histamine intolerance is more common in women than it is men – lucky us, right? Further, it’s worse around ovulations and menstruation because estrogen increases histamines. Estrogen stimulates your body to make more histamine. So, your body makes histamine and certain foods contain histamine. The estrogen levels are less in our control than the histamine foods, so let’s begin there.
How to eliminate histamines
A histamine elimination diet would be a great place to start to determine how they affect your body, and your period.
During this time (30-90 days), you’ll eliminate all high-histamine foods. The duration of the time can be determine based on how you feel. Full elimination for 90 days is ideal; however, if you achieve the results you’re looking for within 30 days, you can experiment with a slow reintroduction. If any symptoms return, you can go back to the elimination diet for the remainder of the 90 days and try a reintroduction at that point.
Typically, a response to histamine foods is felt relatively fast. So keeping a journal of what you’re eating, as well as how your feeling, can be incredibly helpful during this time.
How to monitor your progress
You’ll want to consider tracking:
- Elimination (constipation or diarrhea)
- Skin/eyes (look for skin irritations or watery eyes)
- Mental clarity
Keep in mind that just because you have an intolerance to these foods now, doesn’t mean that you never get to eat them again. It simply means they’re aggravating to your body and by removing them from your diet, you get an opportunity to heal with the goal of re-introducing them without a reaction in the near future.
Foods to avoid
The main foods to avoid during the elimination phase are:
- Alcohol – especially red wine
- Bone broth
- Dairy (cheese, milk, yogurt)
- Fermented foods
- Nightshades (eggplant & tomatoes)
There are also foods that don’t necessarily contain high levels of histamine, but they have a histamine-releasing capacity. When you eat these foods, they stimulate the release of histamine from your cells. They too can be helpful to eliminate or at least reduce during an elimination diet.
- Citrus fruits
- Egg whites
Have you experimented with reducing or eliminating histamine foods in your diet? If so, what was the outcome?
Which symptoms are you experiencing the most this week? (Check all that apply):