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Do you suffer from hay fever all year round?


Most people would associate the word histamine with springtime hay fever, the dreaded itchy eyes and throat, runny nose, sneezing and overall feeling like a horrible mess!

Histamine occurs naturally in many foods, normally detoxified by the body, however low enzyme activity or high consumption of histamine containing foods may result in a build up of histamine within the body, referred to as histamine intolerance (HIT).

Diamine oxidase (DAO) is the main enzyme involved in metabolising ingested histamine. Reduced DAO activity may result in further symptoms such as headaches, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, skin rashes, sleeplessness, nausea, asthma-like symptoms, irregular blood pressure or other allergic reactions.

For people suffering from HIT, these symptoms aren’t necessarily associated with environment exposures, it can be all year round, with symptoms rising post meal or beverage.

A balanced level of histamine is required for healthy digestion and immune system response. Inflammation, injury, allergens or infections trigger the release of histamine to allow the body to heal.

Taking antihistamines is only masking the symptoms, not solving the underlying issues. There may be small changes you can make to reduce/remove these unwanted symptoms.

High Histamine Foods

Try avoiding these high histamine-containing foods and see if your symptoms start to change.

  • Alcohol (especially red wine and champagne)

  • Other beverages such as coffee, black and green tea, soy milk

  • Aged and processed cheeses such as cheddar, blue cheese, brie, camembert, feta, cottage, ricotta, cheese slices, cheese spreads, goats cheese

  • Smoked, aged or canned meats and fish

  • Processed meats such as sausages, bacon, deli meats, salami, pepperoni, chorizo

  • Fermented foods such as sauerkraut, miso, kombucha, pickles, relishes

  • Vegetables such as tomatoes, avocados, spinach

  • Legumes, chickpeas, soy beans, red beans

  • Cocoa/chocolate

  • Fruits such as bananas, citrus fruits, mango, pineapple

Low Histamine Foods

Opt for low histamine foods such as:

  • Fresh seafood

  • Fresh beef, lamb, pork, chicken, turkey

  • Asparagus, beetroot, bok choy, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, garlic, kale, leeks, lettuce, squash, sweet potato, turnip, zucchini

  • Apricots, blackberries, blueberries, cherries, melon, plum, raspberries

  • Water, herbal teas (except green), oat milk, rice milk

Nutrients to Support DAO Activity

The three main nutrients essential for the function and production of DAO are:

  • Vitamin B6

  • Vitamins C: also acts as a natural antihistamine

  • Copper

Other HIT Factors There may be additional reasons that make you more susceptible to HIT such as:

  • Some medications interfering with DAO activity

  • Genetic factors

  • Nutrient deficiencies

  • Gastrointestinal damage (e.g. Crohn’s, coeliac, intestinal surgery, chemotherapy)

  • Excessive alcohol

  • High oestrogen

  • Stress and physical injury

Please speak to your health care professional before making long-term dietary changes or introducing supplements. This is only a guide and should not be followed as a long-term treatment without professional advice.

Thanks for reading!

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