If you've spent any time researching histamine intolerance and/or food sensitivities online, you know there seem to be a bunch of different ways to "fix" the problem. Take this, do that, eat this but not that. On a good day, it all gets confusing!
We're going to take care of that now. Here are the three primary steps to take to decrease histamine intolerance and increase your food resiliency!
ONE: Identify and remove your triggers.
This has to be the hardest. It's the reason most of us hunt out testing or do challenging elimination diets. But this is THE FOUNDATION of what you're trying to accomplish.
If your body is screaming and throwing histamine at something you're eating or touching or breathing every day, you are never going to get things under control…except maybe with a bunch of daily antihistamines.
To keep things really practical, here are four ways to identify your triggers:
- Start with allergy testing. This testing is looking for IgE reactions to different foods, animals, plants and pollens. These are true allergies and may or may not cause anaphylaxis-type reactions.
- Consider doing food sensitivity testing with a knowledgeable healthcare provider. This testing is looking for IgG and possibly IgA reactions. There is a lot of controversy about the validity of these tests, so be sure you understand what the results are telling you.
- Plan and implement an elimination diet. I called these "challenging" above and for good reason. You can't just jump into an elimination diet…you have to plan what you'll eat, where you'll eat, and how you'll be very scientific in your approach. This would be another time to tap into a knowledgeable healthcare provider or wellness coach.
- This one isn't typically in the list of how to identify triggers, but I feel it is a critical piece of the puzzle - pay attention to what your body is telling you. Even if allergy or sensitivity testing says you're good, if you always react to a particular thing or place, listen to your body and do your best to eliminate that trigger!
TWO: Decrease your body's overall histamine burden.
If figuring out your triggers is the hardest step, this one has the most potential options for making it happen. You're taking your first HUGE step in decreasing your overall histamine burden by getting rid of your triggers, but what other steps can you take to support your body in histamine detox?
These are only a few options, but each one is something you can start today. Because there isn't any better day to start working on your health!
- Incorporate a low(er) histamine diet. Have you ever noticed how folks can become OCD about diets and food choices? That's not my goal for you. My suggestion is to use a tool like the Food Intolerances app that will help you identify high histamine or histamine liberator foods in your daily food choices. Start to cut back or eliminate some of those from your food rotation and see how you feel. Based on those observations, you can decide if it makes sense to keep eating those foods or if a break makes sense. The only rule here is that you listen to your body. And rarely is it necessary to eliminate a food forever...
- Use foods (and maybe supplements) to help stabilize mast cells. Mast cells are the first guys on the scene of an injury or an invader in your body. If they decide there is a credible threat, they release histamine and a LOT of other mediators in your body. When they are "activated", they aren't good at determining credible threat versus low risk and they overreact. Look for foods known as mast cell stabilizers.
- Support your natural histamine detox systems by leveraging epigenetic options. There is so much you can do with biochemical genetics, but if we just learn about five histamine-related genes we can do SO MUCH! Here is that list of genes (follow the links for more info on epigenetics for each one): MTHFR, DAO, HNMT, MAOA, and ALDH family. Again, this isn't about doing all the things. It's about finding the ones that serve you the best - we're all different and our bodies are unique.
THREE: Decrease your stress burden, too!
One of the coolest things about the human body is that it is truly interconnected. There is not one cell that is not affected by your thoughts, your lunch or your background. As you start to work on one aspect of health and wellness, it is really beneficial to keep in mind that there is more than one way to create change…in fact, multiple approaches will usually get you better results!
When you're figuring out your histamine intolerance and food sensitivity puzzle, don't forget about the important role stress plays. Stress activates those mast cells so that they degranulate and release histamine and other mediators. That means an increase in inflammation and systemic histamine. Who knew just lowering your stressors could actually help your histamine intolerance symptoms!
One more chance to get really practical…
- Take a look at your To-Do list. You know, that list of stuff that pushes you to keep moving all day every day. If yours isn't written down, go ahead and scribble it all out. Get it down where you can see it. Now…figure out the top one or two items that cause the most stress and see how you can minimize their impact or how you can completely remove them from your list!
- Stress and trauma decrease the activity of the Vagus nerve…and she's the one primarily responsible for assuring the rest of your body that you're safe. If the Vagus is less active, your body is more likely to feel threatened and insecure. Look for ways to increase how well your Vagus nerve functions - even little things like humming, singing, laughing and taking a cold shower (!!) will help.
- Listen to your body. This is one of my mantras. (Obviously, since it has come up twice in this one post!) So many of us have been taught to ignore or minimize how we feel both physically and emotionally. We have to stop. We all have to get better at listening to and learning from the variety of signals from our amazing bodies. Your body was built to heal, rebuild and recover. Surely that means it can tell us when we need to change things up…it's just a matter of learning the language. And how better to decrease your stress than to understand the language of your body so you know what you need to do and when?!
And if this whole thing just feels like too much…or maybe too simplified…know it is all a process for each of us. Every body is different. Every story is different. And every solution is different. But know there is a solution for what you're dealing with.
Sixty-second Self-care Tip…
There's a whole lot of self-care tips up above, but I love these little tips. (They're really good reminders for me, too!)
This week I'm keeping it simple…Ask for help.
I know, it's that kind of simple that's really challenging. Whether you need help with the dinner dishes, a project at work, or figuring out your histamine intolerance and food sensitivity puzzle, ask for help.If that last one is the real issue for you, I can definitely help. Feel free to email me your questions. Your message will only be seen by me if you send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. Or sign up for the Food Sensitivity Code waitlist. This summer will include five weeks of all things histamine, food reactions and epigenetics! It's a chance to start solving your own food sensitivity puzzle!