Do this one thing to decrease your food sensitivities

One of the hardest things to figure out with food sensitivities is what to eat.  And, if you're anything like me, if eating is too hard we just skip it.  Definitely not ideal!

Here's an approach that will help, regardless of your trigger foods - the Low-Histamine Diet.

There's lots of talk right now about histamine intolerance.  Basically, it's too little of an enzyme called DAO in the gut.  (Although I am a firm believer there is more to it - more enzymes, more fixes, etc…but that's for another time!).  Too little of an enzyme means you end up with too much histamine in your body.  Histamine is a stimulating neurotransmitter that is also responsible for much of the inflammation, reactivity and allergy symptoms we experience.  

Practically, you can either increase the amount of enzyme or you can decrease the amount of histamine.  I'm a physician, so I think of a lot of things in terms of dose - what dose of medicine or supplement is needed to get the effect we want (or don't want).  We can apply the concept to histamine, too.  By eating a low-histamine diet, you're controlling your daily dose of histamine.  And lower histamine means less symptoms!

Can we also call out the whole diet thing really quickly?!  I hate diets.  If you have allergies or sensitivities, I believe low-histamine eating needs to be a "way of eating" (WOE) for you.  (It plays a role in every food decision I make!)  Ditch the strict rules and inevitable failures of a diet and put yourself in charge!  You know your body better than anyone else - make decisions that serve you well. 

If you spook around online, you can find a ton of different lists and guidelines for a low-histamine diet.  And, honestly, it can get overwhelming pretty quickly.  Let's talk through three kinds of foods to avoid, some examples…and then I'll share a nifty little tool to help simplify things on the run!

The three kinds of foods to avoid:

  1. Foods with histamine in them.

  2. Foods that cause histamine release in the body, aka histamine liberators.

  3. Foods that inhibit the DAO enzyme in your gut, aka DAO inhibitors.  

Foods with histamine are most commonly, in our rushed culture, leftovers.  Many of us survive on leftovers.  That said, completely getting rid of leftovers is next to impossible.  Remember the idea of a daily dose of histamine?  Any way you can decrease the total dose of histamine you eat in a day will make a difference.  There are certainly fresh foods that naturally have a lot of histamine, like strawberries, spinach, and tomatoes.

Histamine liberators are foods that essentially cross-react with histamine in the body.  A big one is tyramine, commonly found in aged cheeses, pickled, fermented and cured foods.  If you deal with migraines, you are likely already avoiding tyramines.  

Foods that inhibit the DAO enzyme in the gut are also varied, but some of the big ones are alcohol, coffee, black and green tea.  Yup.  Coffee.  Again, think of this as "dose" - can you decrease the amount of coffee you drink in one day?  Any change in dose will change your symptoms.  A lot of medications, both prescription and over-the-counter, also decrease DAO enzyme.  (More on that next week!)

Overwhelming, right?  Especially when you live on coffee and leftovers of amazing Italian food!  Let's simplify.  Don't lose track of the goal - decrease your daily dose of histamine to the point you can feel a change in your symptoms.  You learn very quickly which foods are best to completely avoid and which ones are OK in small quantities.  Just remember, the decision is always yours.

(I do typically recommend you adopt this way of eating pretty passionately for about 2-3 weeks and then experiment with adding some of your favorite foods back in.  In that way, you'll minimize symptoms more quickly and make it easier to identify your trigger foods.)

A really nice tool to help with low-histamine food choices, instead of carrying a list around with you, is a nifty little app called Food Intolerances.  Look for the bright red strawberry on a blue background.  It's a free app with in-app purchases.  

The free version will allow you to mark histamine as a sensitivity, establish your level of sensitivity and then view categories of foods.  Within the categories, each listed food is color-coded for safety ( red-orange-yellow-green coding) and will tell you if the food is in one of those three categories above!  You can also mark tyramine (which I do recommend) but that does require a one-time $15.99 purchase.  (Want to see more about the app?  I walk you through it in my video above!)

Adopting a low-histamine way of eating is hard, I'm not going to lie.  But when you can manage your symptoms of allergies and food sensitivities by making your own decisions about what to eat or not, why not give it a try!  

Still need something a little more concrete?  Maybe you're considering food sensitivity testing but overwhelmed by the options?  Download my free resource, Food Sensitivity Testing: Which test is right for you? by clicking here


DAO inhibitors, food choices, food sensitivities, histamine, histamine liberators, low-histamine woe

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