When searching for an ideal healing diet, those with histamine issues may have difficulties with a lot of the popular gut- and immune- supporting diets out there. I spent years barking up the wrong fad diets (frutarian, raw vegan, low carb, ketogenic, paleo, macrobiotic, candida, SIBO, and those below), only to come out the other side completely battered and far worse off than before. Here are the pitfalls and upsides of popular nutritional approaches in terms of histamine.
This diet, the Gut And Psychology Syndrome (GAPS) diet by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, is a spin off of the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD), originally developed by Dr. Sidney Valentine Haas in the 1920s, and then expanded upon by Elaine Gottschall in the 1980s. It eliminates specific carbohydrate groups, including certain fruits and vegetables, all grains, and all sugars except for honey. While the SCD might have been an “okay” dietary approach for those with histamine intolerance, the GAPS diet is completely disastrous. It emphasizes adding plenty of fermented foods and bone broths to the diet — both of which are high in histamine.
The “PROs” of the GAPS diet for those with histamine intolerance would simply be the emphasis on a whole foods diet, elimination of all sugar, and cooking at home.
The “CONs” are that it will put histamine sufferers into a full blown flare with all of those fermented vegetables, 24 hour yogurt, bone broth, kefir, and kombucha. A histamine nightmare. Another CON is the amount of nuts and nut flours that may be relied upon in this diet. If you have been reading my blog for a while, you know that nuts, particularly almonds, are high oxalate. And oxalates have been shown to increase histamine. Other foods that are allowed on a GAPS diet may also be high in salicylates or be higher histamine or histamine-producing, themselves, such as cheeses, tomatoes, and citrus fruits.
The Bottom Line: The GAPS diet is the WORST diet for those with histamine intolerance!
The Autoimmune Paleo (AIP) protocol is a food elimination diet that goes beyond the traditional Paleo diet and removes most potentially allergenic or inflammatory foods, including grains and legumes, dairy and eggs, nuts and seeds, nightshades, coffee, and chocolate.
The “PROs” of the Autoimmune Paleo diet for those with histamine intolerance include the removal of a great number of high histamine and high oxalate foods. It is also overall a very anti-inflammatory diet that is based on a whole foods approach and also includes a high amount of fresh organic produce.
The “CONs” are that it is not inherently low histamine. Additional restrictions will have to be added to an already restricted diet, including the avoidance of foods like avocado, citrus, canned sardines, beef jerky, etc. It may also be too high in natural sugars, ultimately leading to inflammation and symptoms.
The Bottom Line: The Autoimmune Paleo diet may be a beneficial diet for those with histamine intolerance.
LOW FODMAP FOR HISTAMINE INTOLERANCE
The Low FODMAP diet was developed for the treatment of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). FODMAP is an acronym for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides And Polyols.
The “PROs” of the Low FODMAP diet for those with histamine intolerance is that it may eliminate some uncomfortable digestive symptoms, including bloating. Additionally, researchers have found that a low FODMAP diet significantly lowers histamine.
The “CONs” is that combining a Low FODMAP diet with a low histamine diet may just be too extreme to follow. Read more about it in my post, Low FODMAPs Diet May Help Histamine Intolerance And IBS.
The Bottom Line: The Low FODMAP diet when moderately followed alongside a low histamine diet may be helpful for those with histamine intolerance.
The “PROs” of the Keto diet for those with histamine intolerance are that it tends to shut down the hunger response, making it easier to follow a restricted, histamine-sensitive diet. It is also an anti-inflammatory diet, leading to an overall lower level of inflammation throughout the entire body. This alone can help lessen symptoms by enlarging the histamine bucket.
The “CONs” are that a ketogenic diet is not necessarily low histamine. Aged cheeses, heavy cream, high oxalate nuts, avocados, and coconut milk are all common ingredients for a ketogenic diet; however, most of those are going to be problematic for histamine sufferers, depending on their individual sensitivities.
The Bottom Line: The ketogenic diet may be a beneficial diet for those with histamine intolerance. Getting enough calories when dairy free may be difficult, and nearly impossible while on a plant based diet. The long term effects of a ketogenic diet are unknown.
The “PROs” of fasting diet for those with histamine intolerance include the fact that fasting in and of itself is good for lowering the histamine response. You can read more about Fasting’s Antihistamine Properties here.
The “CONs” are that histamine sufferers are also putting stress on their bodies by restricting intake of food. For some, that may potentially cause some fatigue and increased symptoms, just due to the added stress on the body. However, for most people, with a doctor’s approval, fasting may help with histamine flares.
The Bottom Line: Fasting may be a useful adjunct to healing histamine, but long term or frequent fasting may contribute to underlying nutritional deficiencies or eating disorders.
WHERE TO START?
After failing diet after diet and starving myself nutritionally and emotionally, I finally tossed out the rule book and embraced a less dogmatic view. I encourage you not to box yourself in with labels you may quickly outgrow. Eat what works for you no matter what list it’s on, and engage in activities like meditation, stress relief and light exercise.
The 28 program the Histamine Reset features:
A four week meal planner with animal protein
A four week totally plant based meal planner
A 7 day quick start ultra low histamine vegan meal planner
A 7 day quick start ultra low histamine and salicylate planner
The week long planners are perfect for the occasional reset and/or to make a switch to a histamine-friendly, healing diet. It’s all about keeping the inflammation bucket under control and making sure we put enough healing foods in there, combined with stress relief, meditation, and meal planning, to prevent it from spilling over. The Histamine Reset was created with with a whole lifestyle approach in mind.
———- REFERENCES ————
McIntosh K, et al. (2016). Low FODMAP diet may significantly improve IBS symptoms. Gut, doi:10.1136/gutjnl-2015-311339.