What is histamine? Why does it come and go? And how can I try to lower my reactions to it?
Histamine is a chemical released by your mast cells when you encounter an allergen. Mast cells are type of white blood cells located all over your body. People have the highest numbers of mast cells where the body meets the environment: the skin, lungs and intestinal tract.
I often use this great visual to explain how histamines become “too much”— The Histamine Bucket. If your bucket is filling up and enzymes are not doing their job to break down the histamine fast enough, then the bucket continues to fill and begins to overflow. The bucket overflowing = symptoms = histamine intolerance.
How do you know if you’re experiencing a histamine reaction? You’ll likely experience some, if not all, of the following symptoms: itchy, puffy, red, or watery eyes; runny or swollen nasal passages; sneezing or coughing; and even swelling or rashes.
There can be an immediate histamine response to something you ate or something in the air or immediately surrounding you. Or there can be a delayed reaction..
One of the most common causes of histamine intolerance is the overconsumption of high histamine foods. Often, you aren’t even allergic to these foods. They simply have higher levels of naturally-occurring histamine that trigger your body’s own histamine response.
So what foods are high in histamine?
fermented foods and dairy products, such as yogurt and sauerkraut.
alcohol and some fermented beverages
processed or smoked meats.
So how do we avoid the reactions ?
Follow a low histamine diet that calms your body’s inflammation. Incorporate fresh foods like fruits and vegetables, fresh meat and seafood, and whole grains.Certain foods are higher in naturally-occurring histamines. Try eliminating any high-histamine foods from your diet for at least thirty days to see if you notice an improvement in your symptoms.
Using an air purifier to decrease your exposure to allergens and toxins in your environment. Investing in a high-quality air purifier with a HEPA filter will ensure that your home environment won’t trigger a histamine reaction.
Pollen is one of the most common aggravators for histamine release. Known as “hay fever” pollen can actually irritate you year-round depending on where you live. in this case watch your weather app for high pollen days. Also washing your hair before bed to avoid transferring pollen or dust from your hair to your pillowcase
Consuming Vitamin C which is a natural antihistamine, which means it can lower histamine levels and mitigate allergic reactions and symptoms.
If your gut isn’t healthy, you’ll likely experience far more allergic reactions and develop elevated histamine levels. A strong gut lining and a diverse gut microbiome is essential for a healthy immune response, as around eighty percent of your immune system is in your gut.
In general, avoid packaged or canned products and turn to fresh foods. Histamine levels in foods can increase as they age, so it’s always ideal to cook fresh food daily when you’re battling histamine.
A neti pot is a great way to naturally support your body during allergy season. Neti pots irrigate your nasal passages (an ancient Ayurvedic tradition) to help clear debris such as pollen, dust, and excess mucus. Clearing out irritating debris will allow you to breathe more easily and reduce nasal swelling