In light of my recently gathered information, or lack thereof, on which foods affect histamine I suppose many of you are wondering which low histamine food list to use, if any. I have no idea is the simple answer. I don’t give advice here on my blog because I’m in no position to – I’m just a sick girl floundering around in the dark along with the rest of you.
There is information on the most popular low histamine food lists on Alison Vickery’s website so thanks to her for putting that information together which saves me a massive job 🙂 We’ll have to agree to disagree though that any of the lists are “credible”.
I follow Dr Joneja’s list (which is the one here on my website) because it helps control some of my Histamine Intolerance symptoms some of the time. I also have Mast Cell Disease though and the diet doesn’t help that. There is no source data for Dr Joneja’s list, however, so I have no clue on what she bases the information or how accurate it is.
Another popular List is by SIGHI, the Swiss interest Group on Histamine Intolerance. This List is compiled from “various sources” none of which are given, so again there is no way of knowing what information the food choices are based on or how accurate the testing of these foods was. The List also incorporates “the experience of members” which is largely irrelevant. I have no idea whether SIGHI’s members have HIT, MCAD or any number of other diseases, what medication they are on which could affect the foods they eat or whether they’ve been tested for actual food allergies. One thing I’ve learned from writing my blog is that we all have vastly different reactions to foods: I tolerate wheat, you may not. I tolerate legumes, you may not. Apples are low in histamine and they make my lips tingle, because I have an allergy to Birch pollen and apples are related. Whether or not you react to a particular food could be due to several factors and have absolutely nothing to do with the food’s histamine content. The reason we have double-blind randomized controlled research trials is to eliminate all these biases and only compare ‘like for like’ results.
Another List mentioned on Alison’s page is the Failsafe Diet from the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital. You have to buy this list so I don’t have a copy – if anyone else has a copy please let me know if the testing methods on which they base their list is included.
Low Histamine Food Apps don’t appear to be available on the Windows platform, which is the type of mobile phone I have, and you have to buy them, so based on that I don’t have access to them. At least one of the Apps apparently lists the research sources for their information, so kudos to the company for that. However, has anyone actually read the research? How old is it? How many studies is it based on? Is it just a regurgitation of the research I found online, because if it is it’s next to useless. Any App which lists food that “liberate histamine” or “block DAO” are useless IMHO, because I found that absolutely no research has been carried out in either of these two areas.
I must sound like I’m totally anti low-histamine food lists which isn’t true. Dr Joneja’s list literally saved my life. I was eating huge amounts of hard cheese like Cheddar & Parmesan, which research shows is high in histamine. Being vegetarian I was also eating loads of spinach and aubergines which research shows are moderate in histamine, and fermented soy products like soy sauce which research shows is high in histamine. And like everyone else I bought all my sauces, mayo etc. which contain massive amounts of malted vinegar and soya products as preservatives. Replacing all these items helped my symptoms enormously.
I have no idea if the orange juice I drank every day contributed to my histamine problems, because I couldn’t find any research which has tested citrus fruits – huge shock there, as they are demonized in the low histamine food world. Ditto for tomatoes and strawberries – no evidence there either because no-one has actually tested them that I could find.
I’ve found that bananas, buckwheat and cashew nuts make my brain fog worse, and apples make my mouth tingly, despite none of these foods being touted as high in histamine (I don’t know if they are or not as I could find no research on them – I just know my mast cells obviously don’t like them much). As I said earlier, we’re all going to have things our mast cells react to which are individual to us and nothing to do with the food’s histamine content.
I regularly eat chocolate biscuits and they give me no symptoms whatsoever. I could find no research which had tested cocoa for its histamine content. Just because something is “fermented” I discovered it doesn’t automatically make it high in histamine. One study found Kefir, a fermented milk drink, to be very low in histamine, along with yoghurt another fermented product!
To be honest, I’d hoped that by delving in to the murky world of histamine in food I’d come out the other side much more informed on what I should, and should not, be eating but I’m actually more confused than ever. As a result of my research though I am going to try re-introducing foods one at a time which I haven’t eaten in nearly 3 years and just see what happens. The more varied and balanced a diet is the better it is for you and the more fun it is to eat!