Welcome to the annoying symptoms of histamine intolerance.
What is histamine intolerance
Histamine intolerance is the inability to process histamine from either internal or external sources resulting in a wide variety of symptoms.
There are two main enzymes that help to break down histamine in the body which include the DAO enzyme also known as diamine oxidase which is primarily responsible for breaking down ingested histamine and histamine found outside the cell while. For the DAO enzyme to work it needs copper and zinc as co-factors to function.
The HNMT enzyme is primarily responsible for metabolizing intracellular histamine found inside the cell and requires SAMe as a co-factor to function thus ensuring the methylation cycle is working optimally is necessary in order to produce SAMe which is a methyl donor required to help break down histamine inside the cell.
If these enzymes are not functioning optimally or overwhelmed with the amount of histamine to metabolize then a wide variety of histamine related symptoms may result.
If these two enzymes are working optimally then you can most likely eat high histamine foods and not experience any symptoms. Yet another day you may you may have hit your histamine threshold and will experience symptoms even though you ate the same food which is why histamine intolerance can be difficult to pinpoint if you don’t know what to look for.
The DOA enzyme is primarily located in the small intestine, kidney and placenta, and acts as a barrier against histamine in the gut, histamine originating from foods and intestinal microbes. If the gut lining is damaged there can also be a loss of the DOA enzyme resulting in a decreased ability to metabolize histamine.
Histamine intolerance symptoms:
Some of the most common histamine intolerance symptoms include, diarrhea, heartburn, bloating, nasal congestion, watery eyes, asthma, headaches, racing heart, itchy skin, hives, flushing, eczema, uterine cramping and increased estrogen production.
Histamine plays important roles in the body such as contributing to micro-vascular dilation and permeability, stomach acid production, intestinal secretion and motility and triggers the immune and inflammatory pathways in response to pathogens and food allergies.
Histamine itself is not bad, but histamine becomes problematic if there is a loss of function of the DAO enzyme in the gut or the inability to process the excess histamine.
One of the key roles of histamine is to combat pathogens in the gut by stimulating the immune system to release killer chemicals that attack pathogens but when the pathogens are never identified or dealt with they can be a constant source of histamine production that overwhelms the DAO enzyme in the gut.
Histamine can also be produced by certain probiotics such as many species of lactobacillus which can grow in excess in the small intestine such as in some cases of SIBO which then stimulate histamine production.
Histamine is also produced by our bodies own immune system in response to stress, pathogens and sensitivities to foods. Yep stress is always a factor!
One of the best ways to clean a dirty and overwhelmed DOA enzyme and reduce histamine in the body is by optimizing a weak upper digestive system by supporting stomach acid production, bile flow and digestive enzyme support.
Stomach acid is our first line of defense against pathogens. When stomach acid is low pathogens can survive and set up home in the intestines thus contributing to histamine production.
Bile is our bodies natural antimicrobial that helps to disinfect the small intestine and preventing SIBO which can trigger histamine.
Pancreatic enzymes ensure that food is properly broken down and absorbed. Undigested starches and sugars can feed bacteria in the small intestine leading to SIBO and thus more symptoms of histamine intolerance.
To further reduce histamine in the body through dietary means a person can support an overwhelmed DOA enzyme by reducing high histamine foods or fermented foods in which histamine is enhanced. Bacteria that live in certain food produce histamine, and the presence of these bacteria are enhanced in fermented, left over and aged foods.
High histamine foods include:
- Aged cheese
- Alcohol, especially red wine
- Bone broth
- Citrus fruits and juices
- Cured meats such as salami, corned beef, pastrami etc
- Dried fruits
- Fermented foods including yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, pickles and fermented vegetables
- Fish especially when smoked
- Raw tomatoes
- Some nuts
How to reduce histamine in the body
If you notice that some of these foods increase histamine related symptoms you will want to limit your intake of high histamine foods (especially your trigger foods), support your digestion, balance your microbiome with probiotics such as ProBiota HistaminX and directly support your DOA enzyme with the dao supplement histamine block which contains the enzyme diamine oxidase so that your body has the extra support to metabolize the excess histamine that comes from food.
Reducing/eliminating high histamine trigger foods and supporting your digestion are key first steps to reduce histamine in the body. The DAO enzyme is one important enzyme that helps to metabolize extracellular histamine but there are other pathways in which histamine is metabolized such as the HNMT enzyme which may be struggling due to genetic snp’s, poor methylation and nutritional deficencies that act as co-factors for these enzymes and pathways to function.
DAO enzyme test
If you implement the initial steps and are still struggling with histamine symptoms you may want to do genetic testing to find out where your susceptibilities lie in your genetics and unique ability to metabolize histamine or not. You can order an at home saliva test from ancestry DNA, send off your test kit for your results then download your raw data from ancestry DNA and run it through the strategene report to see if you have snp’s in your DAO enzyme and thus a reduced ability to metabolize extracellular histamine.
If you are stuggling to process intracellular histamine through the HNMT enzyme this will require additional work and support with optimizing methylation and ensuring that SAMe is being produced as this methyl donor is a co-factor for the HNMT enzyme. Everything is connected in the body which is why optimizing your health can take some time and detective work to find out the root cause or blockage in the body.
The best place to start with reducing histamine in the body starts with the diet and reducing high histamine trigger foods while also identifying your trigger foods.
If you are looking for the DAO supplement to help break down food ingested histamine histamine block by seeking health is a great supplement with 5 star reviews which contains diamine oxidase to help break down external sources of histamine from food.
For more information on histamine and the DOA enzyme I highly recommend reading Dirty Genes by Dr Ben Lynch. Especially the chapter on the DOA if you suspect histamine intolerance. Learn more about genetic testing and my genetic story here
Contact me if you would like your own personalized dietary and supplement program.