I don’t know about you, but the whole histamine-in-food thing baffles me. Why is it relevant to mast cell disease? How do I know which foods contain histamine and in what amounts? Which foods liberate histamine? And when it comes to Histamine Intolerance, which foods interfere with DAO production?
What about other biogenic amines like tyramine? Or things like Salicylates, Oxylates and Nightshades? And why are benzoates excluded on Dr Joneja’s low histamine diet?
What information are the various Low Histamine Food lists and apps based on and, more importantly, how accurate are they?
There is scattered information on the internet but no-where which brings it all together, so that was my aim when I wrote the Low Histamine Food Info section of my blog. It’s a complicated subject but I’ve done my best to translate science into English in the hopes you might be at least a little clearer on the subject by the end. I must admit, after spending weeks putting together the section on ‘Histamine & Food: The Evidence’ I was surprised at how little actual research has been conducted on histamine containing foods and very worried at how Low Histamine Food lists and apps are blindly followed by some very sick people who don’t even question where the information has come from.
I am not a dietician or researcher and have no medical qualifications – I’m just a sick person, though one who never believes anything they read on the internet unless it’s backed up by some kind of fact, and by fact I don’t mean one research paper written in 1954 using now outdated methods and which has never been replicated. Double-blind, randomized control trials, which are accepted by peer review journals and replicated using the same methods by other research teams make something fact, anything else is speculation. If you see a blog post or diet or app which lists research references please read the actual research. I was amazed to discover, for example, that the reason low histamine diets exclude egg whites is solely down to one unpublished research paper written in 1954 and the research wasn’t even conducted on people!
I don’t take anything away from Doctors who report on what they see in their clinical practice, or the successes they have treating their patients with certain diets. What I do want to know, however, is what evidence they base their diets on, the criteria used for selecting their patients to take part in trials and the methods used to determine efficacy of the treatment. Anyone can say “try this diet, it works!” then charge you money for the privilege of buying their book.
I’m also not taking anything away from studies which use the experiences of real people. The Food Intolerance Network did a study on the reactions of over 800 histamine intolerant patients to various foods, and their results can be found here. The trouble with patient studies is: how do I know the people in the study had HIT and not Coeliac disease? Or fructose intolerance? How do I know some medication they’re taking, or the menopause, or the stress they’re under, isn’t skewing results? I don’t is the answer which is why research trials are so precise – it’s to ensure that the study has a level playing field and the results are accurate.
I don’t have an axe to grind with any of the low histamine food sources found online or in apps – I’m simply reporting on the evidence I found and my personal interpretation of the information I collected. I only used free sources of information as I don’t have the resources to start buying several research papers or books and my research was not exhaustive, though it did take hours, days, weeks – by the end of which I was bored of the whole subject, totally confused and more than a bit fed up and disillusioned!
It’s up to you to make your mind up on which low histamine diet list to follow, or how much you trust any of the information you see online. I hope, however, my blog will help you make informed choices. To start, hover over the ‘Low Histamine Food Info’ tab in the menu and you’ll see the pages listed underneath.