Histamine may not be very well known, yet it is found in many different foods. You can read more about histamine below.
what is histamine?
Histamine is a substance that plays an important role in many processes in our body. Like in our sleep-wake rhythm and in the functioning of our immune system and nervous system. Our body makes histamine itself and largely stores it in so-called mast cells. These specialised cells are located in tissues that are in contact with the outside world, such as the skin, lungs and gastrointestinal tract.
Histamine can be released from the mast cells during an allergic reaction and it enters the blood. Medications, such as certain painkillers (ibuprofen and morphine, among others), antibiotics and drugs for high blood pressure, can also release histamine. And vitamin B12 injection also releases (a lot of) histamine from mast cells. A lot of free histamine in our body means increased histamine levels.
Histamine occurs naturally in many plant and animal products. So in addition to the body’s own histamine, we also get it through our food. Fermented and ripened foods in particular contain a lot of histamine. Histamine from our food normally does not enter our blood because an enzyme in our intestines breaks down histamine. When this enzyme is not present or is present to a lesser extent, histamine cannot be broken down and ends up in your blood. In these people, histamine can be a risk factor for high histamine levels.
which foods contain histamine?
Histamine occurs naturally in many plant and animal products. Fermented and ripened foods in particular contain a lot of histamine. Examples of histamine-rich foods include:
- Dried fruit
- Pork meat
- Aged meats, such as salami
- Dry sausage
- Fish (except fish from the freezer)
- Aged cheese
- Alcohol, especially red wine
- Canned foods
- Spices, such as cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla
Some foods, although low in histamine themselves, can release extra histamine in the body. Foods rich in these so-called histamine-releasing agents include:
- Citrus fruit
- Crustaceans and shellfish
Some foods can interfere with the function of the DAO enzyme or even block it altogether. These include drinks rich in caffeine and theine, such as coffee, tea and energy drinks. Alcohol can also hinder or block the action of the DAO enzyme.
Fortunately, there are many foods that contain no histamine or only a very small amount of histamine. The rule is that the longer you leave a product, the more histamine is produced. So fresh food contains less histamine than food that has been lying around for a while, such as leftovers. If you want to keep food longer, freeze it to prevent further histamine production. Examples of low-histamine foods are:
- Fresh meat, preferably white meat
- Fresh fish or fish from the freezer
- Fresh vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, carrots and kale
- Fresh fruit such as apple
- Beans and other legumes
- Soft cheese
- Peanut butter
- Vegetable milk
- Fresh herbs
how do you deal with histamine?
Fortunately, if histamine is a risk factor for high histamine levels, there are a number of things you can do about it. One of the things you can do is adjust your diet.
By limiting the consumption of histamine-rich foods as much as possible, you can reduce the risk of high histamine levels. Beware of foods that release extra histamine in the body.
If you find this difficult, a dietitian can help you with this. A dietitian can also help you establish a complete diet when limiting histamine-rich foods.
Legislation regarding health claims on dietary supplements, cosmetic products and medical devices unfortunately prevents us from providing information on the use of supplements (containing digestive enzymes).
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