When talking about biochemistry and genetics, you will likely hear a good bit about pathways. One pathway includes the various steps of biochemistry which transforms one compound into something easily eliminated from the body. We have been talking about some of the histamine pathways since our focus is histamine intolerance and/or food sensitivities.
Epigenetics are the lifestyle choices you make which impact those biochemical pathways. Without adding a medication or a supplement, you can change how well an enzyme or an overall pathway functions.
We've already worked through much of the intracellular histamine pathway - or the HNMT pathway - by starting toward the end with MAOA and ALDH. HNMT works on histamine first and then hands it to MAOA who then hands it to ALDH and then out it goes in urine.
Since we know the drain is working pretty well by now, e.g. MAOA and ALDH, let's look at HNMT. How can we support HNMT and histamine clearance with our choices?
First Cornerstone of Epigenetics - Sleep
HNMT responds to elevated levels of histamine in your cells. Anything that triggers histamine release is going to put pressure on this enzyme. From a very practical perspective, the environment in which we sleep is key for this Cornerstone. Keeping bedding and your sleeping room as dust, mold and dander free as possible is important. Here are a few ideas to help you do just that:
- Use dust mite proof bedding.
- Keep pets out of your sleeping room and off the bed.
- If you have pollen allergies, wash your hair and face before bed each night, or during transition seasons when pollen counts are higher.
- Change your sheets regularly and consider even changing your pillowcases every night!
Second Cornerstone of Epigenetics - Stress
Stress is a trigger for mast cells and histamine release; it is a common cause of histamine intolerance. If you have chronic infections, a traumatic background, or even a very typical modern lifestyle, you're likely stressed enough to cause an issue if you have a susceptibility. Here are a few ideas to consider for lowering stress a bit:
- What are 2-3 obligations you can take off your to-do list every day or every week?
- Put your phone to sleep in its own space every night away from your bed and nightstand.
- Consider adding a breathing or meditation practice into your daily routine.
- Know that you deserve to feel better - sometimes that simple permission will help us relax!
Third Cornerstone of Epigenetics - Environmental Exposures
For any of the histamine pathway genes, the biggest thing you can do to support your biochemistry is to identify your triggers and then avoid them. Really practical and super challenging.
Allergy testing is the best place to start since allergies are pretty consistent over time for most of us. (I tried to outgrow my dairy allergy - no such luck!)
Sensitivity testing has a place in solving your histamine puzzle, but there are a lot of pros and cons to this kind of testing. Do your research. Understand what the test is actually telling you. And then you make your own decision!
With or without testing, consider using air filtration to help minimize exposures. If humidity and mold are an issue where you live, consider a dehumidifier.
Fourth Cornerstone of Epigenetics - Food Choices
Any way you can minimize how much histamine is entering your body in food or drink will only support the entire system and lower inflammation in your body. This comes down, again, to identifying your triggers and avoiding them as much as possible.
If you're not sure of your triggers or you're really serious about getting your histamine issues under control, you might consider a low(er) histamine diet for a period of time. I say "low(er)" because any change you make will help. Many out there will push a very strict low histamine diet and I find food restrictions frequently increase our fear of foods and eating. Not a good place to wind up!
Using your food choices to lower overall histamine will give your body a chance to catch up, heal up a bit, and it will make food reactions easier to identify. Keep a journal of food choices and reactions. Pay attention to the little reactions and include those in your journal. Every little thing is your body giving you information.
Sixty-second Self-care Tip…
While we can dig and strategize over all the ways to minimize histamine and allergies and sensitivities, there really is one very large foundational component to dealing with it all.
Discover your triggers and then do what you can to avoid them.
If you're here reading this, you've been doing this histamine thing for a while now. You know your body better than anyone else in the world, literally.
What are your triggers? What are the things you suspect may be a trigger? It doesn't matter if you have a test that proves it or not. Doesn't matter if it doesn't make sense to someone else and they tell you so. Trust your instincts and what your body is telling you. This is your journey…no one else's.
Want some more information about food sensitivity testing? Request my FREE resource, Food Sensitivity Testing: Which Test is Right for You?