Spring is a season of rejuvenation and renewal, but for many individuals, it’s also the time when allergies flare up, causing discomfort and inconvenience. One of the key players in allergic responses is histamine, a neurotransmitter and immune system mediator that, when in excess, can contribute to allergy symptoms. Understanding histamine and its role in allergies can guide us in making informed dietary choices to manage allergic reactions effectively during the spring season.
Histamine: The Double-Edged Sword
Histamine is a vital neurotransmitter and immune system component that plays a crucial role in various physiological functions. It’s involved in regulating stomach acid, inflammation, and acts as a neurotransmitter in the brain. However, excessive levels of histamine can lead to allergic symptoms, including sneezing, itching, hives, and nasal congestion.
Managing Histamine Load for Spring Allergies
Our body has a capacity to handle histamine before it overflows and triggers allergic symptoms. Several factors influence this capacity, including detoxification processes, methylation, and the breakdown of histamine via the DAO (Diamine Oxidase) enzyme. During spring, the increased pollen count elevates histamine levels in our bodies, pushing us closer to our histamine threshold and causing allergies to manifest.
To mitigate allergic symptoms during this time, it can be beneficial to adopt a low histamine diet. This approach involves reducing histamine-rich foods in our diet to keep histamine levels in check.
Following a Low Histamine Diet: Tips and Example
There are a few ways in which your diet can modulate your histamine levels and expression.
- Some foods are naturally higher in histamine
- Some foods naturally inhibit the function of the DAO enzyme (the enzyme which helps to break down and clear histamine).
- And some foods may not be high in histamine, but they trigger histamine release in the body.
The Key to a Low histamine diet, is keeping it FRESH. Histamine is primarily found in foods which have been aged, fermented, cured, cultured, smoked, and slow cooked, i.e foods which are not fresh. Cooking methods can also impact histamine levels in food, generally boiling is better than frying or grilling when trying to control histamine levels in food.
The following is a table of foods to enjoy and foods to reduce/ avoid, if you are hoping to lower your histamine levels.
|Flour and grains||pastry, wheat, malt, wheat germ, yeast.||Gluten free grains; rice, quinoa, buckwheat|
|Fats and oils||Walnut oil, peanut oil||Olive oil, coconut oil, coconut butter, pure nut butters, fish oil|
and other leftover meats.
(e.g. alcoholic products, vinegar, yeast, bacteria).
|Fresh, unprocessed, or little processed basic foods. The more perishable and protein-rich it is, the more important the freshness is.|
|Dairy||In general, dairy should be avoided. Yoghurt, matured cheese: hard cheese, semi-hard cheese, soft cheese, processed cheese, fondue; aged cheese: blue cheese, mould cheese and aged Gouda.||Very occasionally fresh goat milk,|
sheep milk and butter are permitted.
|Meat and Eggs||Processed, smoked, canned, cured, dried, marinated, preserved meat, including bacon, salami, pepperoni, luncheon meats, sausages and hot dogs.||Freshly cooked meat, eggs (chicken,|
quail), fresh coconut meat.
|Fish, Seafood , Shellfish||Canned fish, marinated, salted, dried, smoked or pickled fish and|
seafood. Certain fish species such as: tuna, mahi mahi. Shellfish (mussels, lobsters, crabs,
|Freshly caught fish. Frozen fish such|
as pollock, cod, trout, white fish,
perch, organic pangasius.
(Frozen for no longer than a few weeks. Thaw
quickly and use immediately! try not allow to
thaw slowly in the refrigerator!)
|Vegetables||Eggplant, spinach, tomatoes (including ketchup, tomato juice), olives and pickled vegetables.||Fresh vegetables (excluding spinach,|
eggplants and tomatoes).
|Legumes||Chickpeas, lentils, beans, soy products such as tofu.|
|Fruits||Overripe fruits. Citrus fruits such as lemon and orange, strawberries, raspberries, bananas, pineapple, dried fruits, avocados, kiwi, pears, papaya, guava.||Fresh apple, peach, apricot, melon,|
mango, persimmon, lychee, cherries,
sour cherries, blackberries, coconut,
|Herbs and condiments||Vinegar (especially wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar), mustard, olives, pickles. Yeast extract, flavour enhancers (glutamate, sodium glutamate), bouillon, broth, soy sauce, Fish sauces.||Fresh leafy herbs. Freshly ground|
spices – curry, cayenne, chili, cloves,
cinnamon, nutmeg. Apple cider
Table salt, garlic (fresh or powdered),
culinary herbs, mild spices.
|Nuts and Seeds||Long-stored nuts such as peanuts, cashew nuts, walnuts, almonds, pistachios.||Hemp, chia, macadamias, chestnuts,|
|Sweets||Chocolate, white chocolate, carob, sugar.||Honey, Maple syrup, monk fruit, stevia.|
|Beverages||Alcoholic beverages, soy milk, energy drinks, coffee, juices and soft drink, yerba mate, black tea||Water, coconut milk, almond milk,|
coconut water, herbal teas such as
rooibos, juices (excluding those on
the avoid list)
Daily Low Histamine Diet Example:
- Quinoa porridge topped with fresh berries
- Herbal tea (e.g., chamomile)
- Grilled chicken with steamed broccoli and white rice
- Water or herbal tea
- Sliced cucumber and carrot sticks with hummus (prepare with fresh ingredients)
- Baked salmon with sweet potato and steamed green beans
- Water or herbal tea
- Fresh apple slices with a small amount of almond butter
Navigating spring allergies through a low histamine diet can provide relief and help keep allergic symptoms at bay. Understanding the role of histamine and its interaction with seasonal triggers empowers us to make informed dietary choices. Whether following a strict low histamine diet or making selective food swaps during allergy-prone seasons, managing histamine levels can significantly impact our overall well-being and enhance our enjoyment of the beautiful spring season. As always, consulting with a practitioner before making significant dietary changes is advisable, if you would like further support with your allergies, or dietary changes please book in with one of our wonderful practitioners, they would love to help you!