In a nutshell, a Low Histamine Diet is a way of eating, cooking and storing food that reduces the amount of histamine a food produces and/or releases in and out of your body.
So what is histamine?
According to BBCGoodFood, Histamine is a chemical found in the body that is typically associated with allergy, but it has other important functions in the body, including communicating with the brain, a chemical messenger in the nervous system, regulation of the gut, and dilating blood vessels to lower blood pressure. It's an important part of our body's immune response. Histamine is mainly stored in immune cells called mast cells and basophils.
Histamine comes into play to help the body get rid of something that is bothering it or that it sees as foreign to it. We can experience this as watery eyes, sneezing, itchy skin, coughing or trouble breathing. Issues with histamine tend to occur when histamine is not broken down fast enough or if too much is produced.
One way to help with high histamine responses is to eat a low histamine diet. This way of eating is not meant to be a long term or a life long way of eating. Nutritional deficiencies can occur if followed for too long.
Remember, our bodies need histamine for many of its processes. From time to time it just might need help not producing so much or breaking it down.
Obviously the number one concern when eating to reduce histamine is what to eat. There's a lot of conflicting information out there about what you can and can't eat on a low histamine diet. This is largely due to the fact that everyone responds to varying degrees of histamine differently. Some lists and recipes indicate bananas are low histamine, where others state they are not because they contain other amines.
Histamine is one of several types of amines that can cause a reaction in people. Amines are harmless for most people, however when consumed in excess or by people sensitive to amines, they can cause a range of symptoms, such as allergic reactions, an increase in cardiac output and constriction of blood vessels in the head which can cause migraines.
Please do yourself a favor and find a low histamine foods list and only use that one for a while. This will help you keep your sanity, trust me. It's difficult to find food lists that agree completely. If any of the foods on the list bother you or cause symptoms to increase, simply eliminate that food.
Many have found this list very helpful when choosing which foods to eat. It not only shows high histamine foods, but foods, spices, herbs and oils that liberate histamine in the body, as well as those that inhibit the DAO enzyme (an enzyme that breaks down histamine.)
Always double check a low histamine recipe with whatever resource you choose to have as your "go to", low histamine food list. Because not everyone is creating recipes using the guidelines from your list.
There are also antihistamine foods (they help clear histamine) that can be incorporated into this new (temporary) way of eating. Some antihistamine foods and herbs include apples, white onions, parsley, ginger, nettle, sweet potato and many others.
The food you eat is not the only factor in reducing histamine in the body. You must also look at how you prepare and store your foods. For more details on that, visit the website Creative in My Kitchen.
Now that you know a bit more about a Low Histamine Diet.....on with the recipe resources!!
Low Histamine Recipes
You may find it helpful to look for Paleo, Whole30 or Keto recipes and modify them with the allowed ingredients. A lot of times, a meat or allowable protein + 2 veggies is the perfect combo for any low histamine meal. If you decide to incorporate the allowable grains, use gluten free when possible and be sure to use them in moderation.
As with most recipes, you can change an ingredient to suite your particular needs.
Sites with Recipes for the Whole Day
Smoothies - 5 Low Histamine Smoothies
Low Histamine Oatmeal (Could be a dessert - switch out the apple for blueberries.)
One Pan Turkey Hash - Low Histamine tip, omit avocado oil from this recipe, use olive oil or other low histamine oil.
Celery sticks - Yes! Not fancy but they can be your snack best friend. Eat them with cauliflower hummus, a low histamine nut butter or some other low histamine food.
Low Carb Shepherd's Pie - To make this recipe low histamine, omit the bone broth or beef broth, tomato paste and apple cider vinegar. Instead, use canned coconut milk. Use a half to a whole can, depending on your preference. Also, if you don't have arrowroot powder/starch no problem, still good without it. Consider adding chopped veggies like broccolini or asparagus to the filling.
Sheet Pan Steak Fajitas - This recipe needs to be modified to be low histamine. Omit the black pepper, lime, chili powder and chipotle powder. For the toppings do not use pico de gallo, guacamole, sour cream. If using a cheese, non-aged, soft cheeses may work.
Organic Frozen Diced Mangoes - Found at most grocery stores
Hopefully these meal ideas and recipe resources will give you a start on your low histamine diet journey. Remember, you can modify many paleo, keto or whole30 recipes to a low histamine one by swapping the not so histamine friendly ingredients for low histamine ones.
Have a favorite low histamine recipe? Please share in the comments. It will help everyone venturing into the land of the low histamine diet.