Supporting DAO (and decreasing histamine symptoms) with your epigenetic choices!

When it comes to histamine intolerance and food sensitivities, one of the most straight-forward genes to support is DAO.  (Keep in mind if you go looking for more information, you want to look for a gene called AOC1 which codes for the DAO enzyme…it can get a little confusing sometimes.)

I think most of us like something pretty straight-forward when it comes to this bizarre little journey we're on.  Something that is fairly reliable and will actually help food sensitivity symptoms.  If I want an easy fix, this is my go-to.

DAO gets the most attention as the enzyme in the gut that works on the histamine in foods we eat and beverages we drink.  (It has a few more jobs, but that's an important one for us!)  And it's even easier to leverage because you can literally take a pill with each meal that will replace this enzyme and decrease histamine symptoms.  Want a little more info about DAO?  Click here.

In this series we've been going through the various histamine-related enzymes and how we can influence them by making lifestyle changes.  Yup!  No pills.  Are epigenetics (those decisions) going to fix all of your histamine problems?  Not initially, but this entire process is about learning your own body and how to best support it in managing excess histamine.  

There isn't just one solution for everyone.  Use all of the tools available!

Let's take a look at the Four Cornerstones of Epigenetics for our friend, DAO!

The First Cornerstone of Epigenetics - Sleep

Just like each of us, these genes and enzymes do not work in isolation.  They have a whole community of biochemistry supporting them in their job.  And when those other enzymes have problems, they can put pressure on DAO and make it work that much harder.  

DAO relies on the ALDH family of enzymes to get histamine metabolites out of the body.  Quality sleep is one of the primary ways we can support ALDH and DAO  - sleep is an antioxidant in and of itself!  Antioxidants are going to help both ALDH and DAO work more efficiently.  

What is one change you can make to help improve your sleep at night?  Darker room, less screen time, put the phone to bed in another room?  

The Second Cornerstone of Epigenetics - Stress Management

Seems stress is always sneaking into every party.  Every time we look for ways to feel better, whether with epigenetics or exercise or prescriptions, the recommendation to decrease stress is always part of the bigger picture!

And while there are several different ways we can approach stress, let's talk about alcoholic beverages today.  Many of us use alcoholic beverages, even in small amounts, to help deal with stress.  They can help to take the edge off a bad day, right?  But the effects often backfire - alcohol interferes with sleep, causes inflammation, introduces more histamine into your body, and it puts an additional burden on DAO (and the ALDH family) because your body turns ethanol into acetaldehyde.  

What are your go-to techniques for managing stress, other than alcohol?  What would life look like for you if you avoided alcoholic beverages for 2-3 months while your gut and biochemistry heal?

The Third Cornerstone of Epigenetics - Environmental Exposures

Because of the relationship between DAO and the ALDH family of genes, exposure to environmental aldehydes in vehicle emissions, smoking (including secondhand smoke), smog and formaldehyde all cause issues.  Do your best to avoid these.  

To really address the things that affect the DAO enzyme, let's also look at the medications you may be taking.  Metformin is known to decrease DAO activity, as are antihistamines and NSAIDs.  Some antibiotics can affect DAO activity and some probiotics will actually increase histamine in your gut which slows down DAO.  Replace what you can easily replace and then simply be aware of the impacts on DAO.  If you need an antihistamine for a serious reaction, be mindful of the foods you eat and focus on lower histamine selections.  This is all about balance…not hard and fast rules!

How often are you taking antihistamines or NSAIDs?  What would happen if you tried a lower histamine diet for a while and see how that affects your need for those medications?

The Fourth Cornerstone of Epigenetics - Food Choices

If DAO works on the histamine in foods then if you are mindful of the foods you eat and focus more on lower histamine choices, DAO doesn't have to work as hard.  The additional consideration to this is that if DAO becomes overwhelmed and cannot clear histamine in the gut, that histamine is absorbed into the body and then HNMT and MTHFR have to work harder to clear it.  

You can't lose track of the fact that you are one amazing and intricate biochemical puzzle!  Not a methylation cycle and a gut and stress neurotransmitters that all act independently.  If you take one puzzle piece out of play, nothing else looks - or works - right!  

Need some help with lower histamine food choices?  Try the Food Intolerances app.  More info here.  

Sixty-second Self-care Tip…

Since food choices play such a huge role in supporting or hindering DAO, let's do a quick little quiz!

  • What are the 1-2 foods you crave the most?
  • How often do you eat them?
  • Do you notice any reactions when you eat them?
  • Are they considered high histamine foods or are they histamine liberating foods?

For that last one, you can try a Google search or use the Food Intolerances app.  Either one should be able to give you a good idea of the effect those food cravings are having on your histamine bucket.  

If one or both of those foods is either high histamine or a histamine liberator (meaning it causes release of histamine in your body), consider decreasing how often you enjoy them.  If you're eating them daily right now, consider using it as a treat once a week.  

One forewarning - if you exclude the food for a time and then reintroduce it, you may be much more sensitive and aware of any reaction.  Start with a little taste and then pay attention to what your body is telling you!

Figuring out your own histamine and food sensitivity puzzle can be a real challenge…have you ever seen those puzzles of a bunch of Dalmatian puppies and the picture is printed on both sides of the puzzle pieces?!  Yeah - that kind of a challenge!  If you want some support on your journey, consider joining the waitlist for Food Sensitivity Code, my 5-week newly revamped course on all things food sensitivity and genetics/epigenetics!  


60-second self-care, DAO, epigenetics, histamine intolerance, Self-Care Strategy

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