There’s more to the low histamine lifestyle than elimination!

UPDATE: there is a ton of misinformation flying around on the internet. I’m constantly flummoxed by how people will attribute feeling awful to chickpeas or a banana rather than the taco bell, potato chips or chocolate they also had. I have yet to see any scientific study showing high histamine content in chickpeas. On the contrary, sprouted chickpeas are high in DAO, the histamine degrading enzyme. Even a high histamine food can lower or raise histamine, because different parts of the plant have varying properties. Raspberry fruit for example is listed as high histamine, but it also contains antihistamine quercetin. Raspberry leaves meanwhile are scientifically proven to have antihistamine properties.

I have over the last few years called a number of labs to ask how histamine testing is done, and trying to get an accurate list made. But I haven’t been able to.

You know why?

Because according to the labs I have spoken with, it is impossible to measure histamine accurately in vegetables and fruits, because the level is too LOW for the tests to pick it up correctly. Most of the lists you find on the internet were put together by polling readers on what they feel is high histamine, or just copied from other incorrect sources.

So here’s a tip, please stop worrying about whether chickpeas are high histamine, and a little more effort into avoiding processed foods full of gut damaging emulsifiers, stop roasting foods because this oxidising cooking method causes histamine release, and definitely do not go gunning after healthy foods while you’re still indulging in potato chips. Fixing a histamine problem is all about fixing the body as a whole, and eating junk food and worrying about the histamine status of vegetables, beans and pulses isn’t going to get us anywhere.

All scientific references to the statements I just made can be found in this post.

I spend a lot (a LOT) of time on the net chatting with people who are in various stages of eliminating high histamine foods. While going low histamine does mean binning a number of high histamine foods, eliminate too many and you could end up worse off in the long run. I know because I spent a number of years doing it myself. Cut cut cut was all I did, but I soon became reactive to the “safe” foods and I just wasn’t getting any better overall.

A little dabbling in supplements showed me they’re (mostly) out. I just don’t tolerate them. So I eat them instead. I’m quite convinced that their magical qualities, in balance with other nutrients, renders them effective, thought I do realise I’d have to wear a trough around my neck to ingest a therapeutic dose (100mg per kilo??) of some herbs.

Why this emphasis on nutrition rather than antihistamines? Well, antihistamines only work on one or two of the four (known) histamine receptors. Is that bad? Depends – do you enjoy eating obsessively till obesity? How about suffering from chronic infections, liver damage, heart failure or antihistamine toxicity? I personally don’t. Also, my experience on them was, ok, I can eat more – well – I don’t have a choice really – I’m desperate to fill every minute of my day stuffing my face (read is your anti-histamine making you fat). Oddly, if you eat enough, you’ll need more antihistamines! It’s a vicious cycle of filling your bucket, then instead of emptying it, fooling your body into thinking it’s ok to fill it even more.

Take these examples:

SWEET POTATO is high not only in quercetin, but also in histamine-lowering rutin, and has anti-ulcerative properties.  And if that’s not enough for you, sweet potato extract has recently excited scientists by suppressing the growth of stomach cancer, colon cancer and leukemia cells.

OREGANO contains polyphenols with antihistamine properties.

CHICKPEAS…amongst their many nutritional benefits, they’re a particularly good source of plant-based diamine oxidase (DAO – this is the histamine degrading enzyme)

Recently, it has been found that DAO from pea seedlings shows higher activity compared to commercial porcine kidney diamine oxidase (PKAO).  Read the full study here.


Check out these other Healing Histamine blog posts


Yasmina was an award-winning broadcast journalist with a decade of experience covering war zones for CNN and the BBC. She devoted her journalism skills to researching and writing about histamine. Click here to learn about her. Each post is carefully and fully referenced with the latest scientific research. Not sure where to start? Here’s a four week meal plan and overall Histamine Reset.

4 Week Histamine Reset

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