I’m still baffled

This week I had yet another delightful comment on my Recipe page basically saying that my site was a joke.  How on earth can I call my recipes low histamine when they contain mushrooms, chillis and lemon juice?! (with an excalamation mark just to shove the point home).  I was not amused, particularly as the writer had obviously not afforded me the courtesy of actually reading my blog.  The Read This First! page in the Low Histamine Food section, and the links contained therein, explain the information my food choices are based on and if you can’t be arsed to read it before mouthing off you’re just being  rude.

I’ve also had a, thankfully much nicer and more polite, comment from SIGHI (the Swiss Interest Group on Histamine Intolerance) informing me that their cookbook has now been translated into English.  I had a look through the excerpt on their website and it’s obviously taken a lot of hard work and is very professional – I’ll add the details to the Links & Resources page when I get the chance.

If you look at the start of the cookbook it lists allowed and excluded foods, some of which differ from those on other low histamine food lists, the list I follow included.  The whole histamine in food thing still baffles me and I know baffles most of you all too.  Here’s the rub: I can find hardly any research on the histamine content of foods, the exception being fish where scombroid poisoning is well documented.

The list I follow was written by Dr Joneja, a world leading researcher on histamine intolerance, so at least has some validity.  The person who told me this week that my site was laughable because I included mushrooms so far hasn’t produced any research to back up their claim that fungi are high in histamine. Barcelona-based nutritionist Adriana Duelo, whose work is regularly submitted to the prestigious Spanish Society of DAO Deficiency  (of which she is also a member) , has tested mushrooms however and found they contain zero to 1.8mg/kg of histamine which is about the same as fruit juice and less than swiss chard or rice.  Having said all that, some people can’t tolerate mushrooms just like I can’t tolerate apples, which are also very low in histamine.

And therein lies another rub: we don’t all have the same immune system malfunctions.  There are people with allergies.  There are people with intolerances, eg to tyramines, salicylates, oxalates, nightshades, gluten, lactose.  There are people with low or inhibited DAO &/or HNMT.  There are people with mast cell disease.  And there are people with immune system problems which don’t fit any of the aforementioned categories.  And although histamine is implicated in all of these illnesses the mechanisms by which it causes symptoms, and the treatment needed, will differ widely.  It is also, in some cases, only a small part of an overall immune system picture.  In MCAD, for example, when mast cells degranulate they produce around 30 mediators – why do we only focus on histamine?  And why do we mainly focus on food, when just about anything can cause mast cell degranulation in MCAD, including the weather, emotions, lack of sleep, hormones, etc. etc.?

To complicate matters further, many people mix low histamine food lists with other issues.  SIGHI exclude wheat on their diet for example, when there is no evidence that wheat is high in histamine.  Wheat may, or may not, be inflammatory and excluded on an anti-inflammatory diet or people may be intolerant to gluten but that still doesn’t make it a histamine rich food.

I’m hoping to have time over the holidays to update my website a bit, including writing a new page tackling these very complex issues.  To be honest though, the more I’ve learned over the last 3 years the more I suspect any low histamine food list.  Who exactly has tested cinnamon, curry powder or nutmeg for its histamine content?  And how on earth is it even possible to test whether a particular food liberates histamine once it’s been ingested?   Are fresh foods always lower in histamine than dried?  Dried oregano, for instance, is miles higher in mast-cell stabilizing luteolin than fresh oregano.  If pumpkin is high in histamine what about related vegetables like squash, or other root vegetables like carrots or turnip?

I can see the logic, if not the research, to back up claims that aged and fermented foods will be high in histamine, eg. aged cheeses, cured meats and dried fruits but where is the science that food colorings are high in histamine (not that I’d ever want to eat artificially coloured food but where is the histamine connection)?

I’m almost certain I inadvertently still eat things which are high in histamine.  I’m also equally as certain that I’m avoiding some gorgeous foods for absolutely no good reason.  And on top of all that I know for sure that histamine in food is only a tiny part of my very complex health issues and I’d love more research on all the other aspects of mast cell mediator release.

I’m just sharing rambling thoughts in this post really and, as I said, will try and put together a more considered and informative page in the near future.

 

 

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15 thoughts on “I’m still baffled

  1. lordyj

    I think it depends which kind of mushroom. If my memory serves me correctly (and it may well not) I think I read somewhere that the ordinary button mushroom has less histamine than other varieties, which aren’t all that crazy-high anyhow. Totally agree that we’re all different with respect to what and how we respond to foods. I’m even heterogeneous myself. One day a peppermint sweet will be fine the next day I’m getting palpitations…

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      1. Jak Post author

        I still get palpitations too – it could be histamine related, it could be dysautonomia related or it could be peri-menopause related, who the hell knows. Like you I just ignore them!

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  2. Janice

    It boils down to the old saying that what comes out of a persons mouth is more about them then you, and when you realise that you can acknowledge that some someone has been rude, take a deep breath and be glad you were brought up with better manners 😘

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  3. kneillbc

    If there is one thing that MCAS is, it’s heterogeneous! We all react to different things. Because of my numerous IgE allergies, a lot of the foods that are low histamine can do me in (carrots, apples, etc).
    You know, my mother taught me that it is possible to disagree with someone without stooping to name-calling, rudeness, and insults. Something I wish more people knew.

    K

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  4. Teri

    I’ve been focusing on foods that are supposed to help fight Epstein-Barr, after reading that it is the root of many autoimmune diseases. Things we’re going fine until last night when I ate a pomegranate, then went into a BAD crash shortly after. Coincidently I was reading one of your older blogs last night, that refreshed my memory on histamine. I dragged myself to the computer this morning to check on the histamine level of pomegranates and the info I found said they are a “medium level” high histamine food, and you have to test yourself. Also, I missed some doses of antihistamine & dao due to crashing earlier this week. Anyway, I’m going to be focussing back on the histamine thing. Thank you for being there when I needed a “light bulb” moment, Jak!

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    1. Jak Post author

      It just shows Teri how different we all are – I tolerate pomegranates no problem. This whole histamine thing is so individual, which is one of the things which makes it so difficult! I’m glad you discovered what had set you off and hope you’re feeling less reactive now. Jak x

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  5. Deb

    I applaud you for having a blog and all the problems that come with it. I for one am happy to see recipes posted that at least suggest a low histamine content. The more help I get, the better my life is. Keep it up. Some people are just negative.

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  6. d

    Hi Jak

    I look forward to your post on this issue. The person who posted the negative comment likely has not yet come to the realization that everyone with issues with histamine all have different reactions to foods. My personal combo is histamine, sulphites and salacylates but that’s only what I have been able to figure out so far. There are other foods I react to that I don’t yet know the root cause. To illustrate the weirdness – I can eat red beets but not orange ones. Orange beets are a cousin of red beets and have a different composition that red beets. This is just one of many this but not that examples. Plus there are all the environmental, hormonal, etc. triggers that complicate things.

    If the person looked at Histamine Chef recipes, they would also find lemon juice, tomato and other foods that are considered high in histamine.

    Look at the information, carefully try foods and figure out your diet. You are not going to find a website or blog that will be THE answer. This is an area where it takes a long time to sort it all out. Thanks to you Jak for providing good information for people to access.

    d

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    1. Jak Post author

      Absolutely d. It’s a complex and very individual problem. Well done on finding your triggers – I still don’t know some of mine and find it almost impossible to work them out especially when the histamine thing is a gradual build-up and could be due to things I’ve eaten now and again in the previous few weeks. Jak x

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      1. d

        Yes I know what you mean – it took me about 2 years to figure out a large part of them. Many are chemical and my severe pollen sensitivities seem to be related to my chemical sensitivities. As the chemical sensitivity decreases, so does the pollen sensitivity. The body and its mechanisms are a mysterious and complicated labyrinth! I still have some I don’t understand but I do find winter is very helpful – when everything is dead and covered in snow, I can narrow down indoor sources, or at least only have one area that is making me feel unwell instead of all areas. I love the snow in a way I never thought possible! : )

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  7. Elizabeth Milo

    Yes! I agree with all of this! The conflating of different “bad” foods or fad diets makes me nuts. Sugar and gluten aren’t high histamine. Maybe fruit bread doused in rum is, but the flour part isn’t the problem. I keep saying I stopped anaphylaxis by quitting drinking and avoiding Asian foods and MSG, I didn’t have to avoid any other high-histamine foods. Sometimes you don’t have to be strict, sometimes lists can make your situation worse by instilling fear. If the person who commented knew anything about these conditions, they’d know everything is in a grey area.

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