The majority of people who visit my Blog do so because they’re looking for information on Low Histamine foods. When we’re struggling with awful symptoms we just want to find a solution, some way of stopping the hell that eating has become. We want an ‘expert’ to tell us what to do, what to eat, what not to eat, and how to ease our suffering. I know I did – that’s the whole reason I started on my low histamine journey. But there’s one humongous obstacle sitting in the way, and I’m going to spell it out in big letters:
THERE IS NO DEFINITIVE LOW HISTAMINE FOOD LIST
I know you don’t want to hear this and I don’t want to be writing it. But it is the truth.
Mast cell activation disorder (MCAD), and histamine intolerance (HIT), are very new areas of medicine on which hardly any research has been done. No-one has tested all our food for its histamine content. Let me repeat that. No-one has tested all our food for its histamine content. There have been some small studies done on certain food groups, and there have been questionnaires undertaken by certain groups and charities involved in the histamine field on how their members have reacted to various foods, but a comprehensive list of low histamine foods doesn’t exist. Even less research exists on “histamine liberators” and “DAO reducers”, ie those foods which don’t contain histamine themselves but which are purported to either liberate histamine already in the body, or reduce the amount of DAO in our guts which deals with the histamine rich foods that we eat.
This is the reason that many of the diets online are so different to each other. There is so little to base the diets on that much of it is pure guesswork. We all react differently to foods: a trigger for one person isn’t a trigger for another person. The way our food is picked, stored and used also varies widely: if you pick a banana straight off a tree in the Caribbean and eat it there will be no histamine, but if it’s stored in hot weather for 2 days, then put on a ship for a week to reach England, then sits at the Queyside waiting to be put on a lorry, then the lorry takes 2 days to get it to the supermarket, then it sits for another 2 days until it’s put on the shelf, then I buy it and take it home in my car in 25C heat, then it sits in my kitchen fruit bowl for 3 days before I eat it…………..you can see why it would be a histamine timebomb. “Fermented foods” are widely touted as being high in histamine, but who can say for certain that Feta cheese made by hand from local milk in Italy will have the same histamine content as Feta cheese made in a factory by machine in America with milk from New Zealand sheep? Is apple cider vinegar more or less histamine generating than malt vinegar? I don’t have the answers to these questions and neither does anyone else.
We must exercise caution. Don’t believe everything you read online, unless you’re reading it on a Government, Department of Health, or Food & Drink Administration (or other official) website. Please remember that any Tom, Dick or Harry can put stuff online – it doesn’t make it fact. Use your judgement: is the Low Histamine Food List you’re looking at based on research and if so is the link to the research available? If it’s not, ask where the information has come from, on what is the information based? But most of all don’t accept any Low Histamine Diet (and that includes the one here on my Blog) as the be all and end all, because a definitive Low Histamine Diet doesn’t exist. Instead use the low histamine food lists as a guide, a starting point, and tailor a list which suits you personally. It’s the only way to go.
At any one time people with histamine issues will react differently to the same food. There are times I will go out for a meal and put tomato ketchup on my chips with no problems whatsoever. That’s because I’m in a good patch and I know my histamine levels are relatively low. But last week when I was offered tomato ketchup to go on my chips I refused, because I was already having a mast cell reaction to an insect bite, had an outbreak of hives and it’s high pollen season here in England and I’m a little bit hay-feverish, so I’m under no illusion that my histamine bucket is high to overflowing – adding to it with a food which I know is high in histamine (being both processed and made of vinegar and tomatoes) would not be wise. I use lemon juice in some of my recipes because I seriously don’t think a squirt of lemon now and again is going to give me anaphylaxis or make a huge difference to my symptoms. If, however, I ate foods containing large amounts of lemon juice twice a day for the next 2 weeks, it would be a different story. For me personally (and I can only ever speak from my own experience and have never claimed to be any kind of expert) these “cheats” are fine and don’t cause me any problems. If, however, they cause you problems then don’t eat them – simples!
My Blog site doesn’t contain all the answers to your histamine questions. But neither does anyone else’s. That’s because research on histamine and mast cell activation is in its infancy – the information simply isn’t available. All we can do is share the limited information we currently have, our experiences, what works for us and what doesn’t and hopefully learn along the way.