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Histamine is a natural chemical that acts in the body and is indispensable to the efficient functioning of body systems. It is described as a neurotransmitter, which means that it conveys messages between cells and our nervous system. Histamine is also involved in the regulation of stomach acid, the permeability of blood vessels, muscle contraction and brain function and is essential to fight against disease-causing agents such as bacteria and viruses.
Histamine is made and stored in white blood cells and causes blood vessels to swell so that white blood cells can attack the problem. With this in mind, we also see that it plays a large role in dealing with inflammation within the body, acting as a mediator. It is released in response to allergens but when an excessive amount is released it will cause an adverse reaction that appears as an allergy. This allergy presents itself in a variety of ways such as a rash and anaphylaxis depending on your inherent sensitivity to it. Because histamine is so important to the body and is found in so many foods, it is very difficult to avoid interaction with it.
Excess histamine is degraded by the enzymes HNMT and DAO. It appears that a deficiency in the DAO system brings about the intolerance in the acute form. The chronic form of histamine intolerance is due to the HNMT deficiency.
Side effects to the intolerance are widespread and include:
Being histamine intolerant limits your food options by quite a bit, and will naturally vary depending on your level of intolerance.
To find out if you have histamine intolerance it is advised to see a medical professional who will more than likely perform a blood test in order to confirm. From then on, taking antihistamines is probably the best course of action to reduce the impact of your reaction.
Another way to treat your intolerance is to be proactive about your health. You can also revamp your diet and then reintroduce foods to see which ones are causing the reaction. The effect of diet is only comparable to how much a person can limit their intake of histamine, which is difficult. Although diet will help, a person’s general histamine tolerance levels may fluctuate and it is confusing as some foods with histamine may not offset a reaction.
What you can eat is limited but not impossible to achieve: