Are histamines in foods causing your stuffy nose? Breathing problems? Skin Irritations? Worse?

A nutritionist breaks down what to eat and what to avoid

Histamine is a neurotransmitter, which allows messages to travel between cells of the nervous system. It is involved with several functions of the body,  and most essentially, it is the first line of defence against foreign matter entering the body.Histamine is made and stored within white blood cells that circulate in the blood. It allows the immune system to respond to potential threats and to protect yourself. Threats could include viruses, bacteria or even ingredients in food that your body is intolerant to, and your body will form a defence against.

When you eat foods that your body is intolerant to, it actually creates an immune response by your entire body, to protect yourself from this threat. The body will release a series of chemicals and hormones to clean up this threat, but part of this chemical release includes histamine.

Each person has a slightly different threshold for the amount of histamine circulating in the blood at a certain time. Once the amount of histamine exceeds that level, either because it is acting upon a threat and your body is making more histamine; or the chemical process of histamine breakdown isn’t happening properly, you may notice a variety of symptoms called ‘histamine intolerance’ that are often indistinguishable from an allergic reaction

Histamine intolerance manifests itself in a variety of signs and symptoms such as:

  • Pruritus (itching especially of the skin, eyes, ears, and nose)
  • Urticaria (hives) (sometimes diagnosed as “idiopathic urticaria”)
  • Tissue swelling (angioedema) especially of facial and oral tissues and sometimes the throat, the latter causing the feeling of “throat tightening” (sometimes diagnosed as “idiopathic angioedema”)
  • Hypotension (drop in blood pressure)
  • Tachycardia (increased pulse rate, “heart racing”)
  • Symptoms resembling an anxiety or panic attack
  • Chest pain
  • Nasal congestion and runny nose
  • Conjunctivitis (irritated, watery, reddened eyes)
  • Some types of headaches that differ from those of migraine
  • Fatigue, confusion, irritability
  • Very occasionally loss of consciousness usually lasting for only one or two seconds
  • Digestive tract upset, especially heartburn, “indigestion”, and reflux

Not all of these symptoms occur in any single individual, and the severity of symptoms varies, but the pattern of symptoms seems to be consistent for each person.Histamines are also produced by the flora of the intestinal tract. “Many of the bacteria that live in the human large bowel produce histidine decarboxylase and are capable of converting the histidine in any protein that enters the bowel into histamine.” The histamine can then pass through the bowel wall and travel in the blood stream to various sites in the body.

Additionally, when you are exposed to various triggers in daily life, such as seasonal pollens, dust, animal dander or fur, etc, it creates a histamine response, which can again be mistaken for an allergic reaction. You may also find yourself more susceptible to foods that are high in histamines and react to them as well, because the amount of histamine already circling in your bloodstream is at your threshold level, and you may react more easily to them because of the elevated levels of histamine already present.

How do you know if you have a histamine intolerance or a food allergy?

Food allergies tend to produce symptoms immediately, as a hypersensitivity to a certain food causes antibodies and inflammatory mediators to be released into your system immediately, and you would very quickly experience an appearance of symptoms.In the case of histamine intolerance, it takes some time for the histamine to build up in the body to reach the capacity threshold, when the symptoms begin to appear. This could be hours after eating so it can be difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of the symptoms you experience.  So what foods are high in histamine?

Foods that are very high in histamine include:

  • Aged or fermented foods: kimchi, sauerkraut, yogurt or kefir, kombucha, aged cheese, alcohol of any kind (especially red wine!), vinegar, and cured meat.
  • Fish and seafood, especially canned or smoked fish.
  • Foods that are have a medium amount or histamine include:
  • Spinach, eggplant, mushrooms, tomatoes, canned vegetables, dried fruit, avocados, strawberries, papaya, pineapple, and leftovers.

Additionally, these foods don’t contain histamine themselves, but can cause your body to release more of it:

  • Fruits and vegetables: citrus fruit, papaya, strawberries, pineapple, tomatoes, spinach
  • Meat: Fish, shellfish, and pork
  • Other foods: Chocolate, nuts, and raw egg white

When your body is continually bombarded by foods that either cause an allergic reaction or induce a histamine intolerance reaction, your body is in a constant state of inflammation.Inflammation is a primary cause of most diseases, including cancer, diabetes and heart disease. It is important to focus on a gentler diet, to allow the body time to heal from years of inflammatory response and nutrient deficient foods.

There are many diets/lifestyle choices available to further research and follow, but the best one to follow is nourishing to your body and supportive of healing, rather than one that feels like a punishment.

The Histamine Restricted Diet says to avoid the following:

  • meat, poultry, fish
  • processed meats, such as sausage, hot dogs, bologna, salami, pepperoni, ham, bacon
  • eggs
  • milk, cheese and milk products
  • fruits such as citrus, strawberries, raspberries, apricots, grapes, dates, raisins
  • vegetables such as tomatoes, spinach, pumpkin, eggplant, pickles, relishes, olives, foods containing vinegar
  • food additives, such as tartrazine (food colouring), benzoates, sulphites (preservatives)
  • Soy and fermented soy products
  • Alcohol, chocolate and tea

To me, this looks a lot like the diet I always recommend – eating a whole food, plant based diet, as organic and local as possible. That wipes out the possibility of going anywhere near food additives, preservatives, or artificial colours, and significantly reduces the frequency of consuming any meat or dairy products, as the focus of your nourishment comes from plant foods.

This way of eating also significantly reduces your sugar intake, which is a major contributor to inflammation and disease in the body.

To further discuss optimizing your diet and lifestyle, and how chiropractic can support your family’s health, make an appointment with Dr. Matthew today. Call the office at 905-417-5272 to get checked for subluxations. When you remove the interference, your body naturally heals.

With Sources From:1 – –

Jo-Anne Richardson, Registered Holistic Nutritionist, Chiropractic Assistant & Energy Medicine Practitioner, Guest Blogger for Vellore ChiropracticJo-Anne is the founder of the online organic lifestyle brand, where she provides online education for clients and patients. Her interest in healthy, joyful living is demonstrated in her writing, coaching and teaching. Her goal is to improve the health of our community by empowering you with knowledge, support and new ideas.Looking for more tips and information on holistic health and living? Like our Facebook page at and follow us on Instagram and YouTube and feel Fabulous, while enjoying a healthy, Luscious lifestyle.