What’s the one thing that comes to mind when you think of Histamines? Allergies, unbearable sneezing, maybe a runny nose that goes through boxes of tissues? Yes, these are all symptoms of histamine release in your body tackling an allergic reaction, but its role spans more than that. Histamines play a vital role in allergic reactions, but too much Histamine could also make your body develop a histamine intolerance. Confused? Let’s break it down.
So, what is histamine? The scientific definition states that histamine is an organic nitrogenous compound. But we can think of it as a gatekeeper. Something that intends to keep the good things in, and bad things out. If something bad enters the body, this gatekeeper makes it their mission to get rid of it. Suppose an allergen enters the body (this could be pollen, dust or maybe even food), one of the first things that happens is a signal is sent to the mast cells in your skin, lungs nose, mouth and blood. This triggers the release of our gatekeeper, histamine, which then boosts blood flow in the area of the body affected by the allergen. This then leads to inflammation, which summons other chemicals as back-up to do the rest of the clean-up. Histamine is also involved in communicating messages to the brain as a neurotransmitter and releasing stomach acid to aid digestion.
So, histamine is a great compound to have in our immunity reserves, right? Yes, it is. But excessive production of it can sometimes pose a problem. This is a little something known as histamine intolerance. If your body produces too much histamine or is unable to break it down, you may develop an intolerance. The body’s inability to break it down could cause symptoms such as headaches, nasal congestion, fatigue, hives and digestive stress just to name a few. Some might also experience severe symptoms such as abdominal cramping, high blood pressure, anxiety and dizziness. So how exactly can you have an excess build-up of Histamine? One way is the irregulation of diamine oxidase (DAO). Another “sciency” word, but this enzyme plays a key role in high histamine levels. Histamine is produced along with DAO which is responsible for breaking down histamine. Sometimes, a DAO deficiency can also cause high histamine levels. The other way is through food.
- Some foods are naturally high in histamines, such as alcohol, fermented foods, dried fruits, avocados, eggplants and cheddar.
- Some that trigger the release of histamines such as alcohol (again), bananas, wheat germ, nuts, citrus food and food dyes.
- Others that tend to block DAO and these include various kinds of teas such as black, green tea, and energy drinks.
It is hard to understand if you have a food allergy or histamine intolerance, as many food allergies tests do not pick this up. So, does that mean if you experience these symptoms, you are intolerant to histamine? The answer to this is maybe, or maybe not. Maybe you are experiencing a food intolerance or an allergy. Sometimes you may eat or drink something, and experience some of the symptoms listed above. But specifically getting tested for histamine intolerance is tricky. You could get an allergy test and show up negative for histamine intolerance.
So, the best way to figure out if you are experiencing a histamine intolerance is by doing an elimination diet (which should be guided by your registered Dietitian). Or, simply by taking our ImmuwellgxTM test. Because we know the genetic makeup of DAO, we can look for the genes that could be contributing to your histamine tolerance. So, make the better choice, and take our ImmuwellgxTM test today.