What’s Gluten, Lactose- and Histamin?
The serious corner: Some basic facts on Histamine
Histamine is a biogenic amine (a protein), which is present in a number of foods as well as its being produced by our own body.
In our body, histamine is a messenger (neurotransmitter, tissue hormone, responsible for digestions, being awake or asleep…). In foods, it’s a product of fermentation and ripening.
Histamine intolerance is when your body deviates from the ideal histamine range, so this effects your mental and physical wellbeing
Histamine is released from your own body storage or supplied through food. A healthy person is able to break down the histamine fast enough – so no problems there. But, for whatever reason, you have too much histamine sources for the body to break down, then the level of histamine in the body gets too high. If the individual tolerance threshold is exceeded, it leads to a variety of symptoms.
There can be many sources for developing histamine intolerance. Any diseases or disturbing factors causes the metabolic process of histamine to be changed. Usually factors are a combination of external as well as internal factors including nutrition as well as the release of histamine by your own body, psychological distress and many more. A lot of food contains histamine but the food also act as liberators, causing the body to release histamine. Since there is only a limited list of foods that does not have any histamine, I decided to be creative and make the most out of the foods that actually make me feel good.While it may be a chronic disease for some, others will be able to increase their tolerance for high histamine foods over time. In any case, a histamine free diet relieves symptoms for all, without fail.
What are the symptoms?
In particular, symptoms occur particularly while you eat and drink but can also persist chronically or occur sporadically. There are a variety of symptoms that could come up, which depends on each individual person. Some of the typical symptoms are:
- Swelling of the sinuses, runny nose, sneezing, difficulty breathing, cough, sputum
- Digestive problems: diarrhea, abdominal pain, flatulence, heartburn
- Itching, rash, skin redness, flushing (reddening of the face)
- Hot flashes, sweating, impaired temperature sensation
- Palpitation, tachycardia, hypotension
- Headaches, migraines, dizziness
- Insomnia, fatigue
- Nausea, vomiting
- Menstrual cramps
- Edema (water retention, including swollen eyelids)
Be aware! Histamine intolerance can cause vitamin/nutrient deficiency (iron deficiency, vitamin B deficiency) due to the disturbed uptake mechanisms of irritated/inflamed intestine.
Always be sure to get checked regularly to prevent a lack of important vitamins/nutrients.
What to do?
Make an appointment with an internal specialist if you are frequently experiencing any of the symptoms. Since this intolerance is still uncommon, not all doctors are familiar with it. Therefore I recommend that you request that the doctor tests you for histamine intolerance.
A Histamine Free Diet
The key is to leave out food that contains high levels of histamine or cause the release of histamine in your body. Since every person is different it may be that you have different reactions to different foods. I personally keep a very strict histamine free diet at home. Since I cannot control everything in the kitchen when I eat out, I order dishes that do not contain any of the ingredients I am especially sensitive to, or ask the waiter to make some changes.
The intolerance should not determine what you do and by keeping a healthy and histamine free diet at home, the slips here and there when you’re out won’t hurt as much.
Every limitation requires time and patience in order to adjust, but I feel that this intolerance made me more creative and taught me how to deal with some daily obstacles rather than pushing me down.
Below is a summarized list of foods you should avoid:
Pickled or canned foods
Nuts (except Macadamia)
Additives such as sulfites and guar gum
All my tips and recipes are based on my own research and personal experience. If you have any other additional allergies please make sure to adjust the recipe accordingly or contact me. I am of course available for questions and feedback.
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Lactose is a natural sugar found in dairy products. To have lactose intolerance means that my small intestine does not produce a sufficient amount of lactase, the enzyme which breaks down the lactose. Intolerance is different to a food allergy as some people may be able to digest small amounts of diary.
It is important to remember that Lactose, while it is mainly found in dairy food, may also be found in ready-made dressings or meals. Always be sure to read the label of a product.
Symptoms usually start 30 minutes to 2 hours after a meal that contained lactose has been consumed.
- Stomach Pain/Cramps
- Throwing up
What to do?
Make an appointment with your doctor if you are frequently experiencing symptoms after eating dairy products. I did a breath test to find out whether I have lactose intolerance. This test can be done at home and includes drinking a highly concentrated lactose solution. If you are lactose intolerant you will feel its effects.
In order to deal with lactose intolerance, the easiest solution is to buy lactose free products. From my own experience, these products are not easily found everywhere. In addition, many lactose free products contain a lot of high histamine – additives such as Locus bean gum or guar gum.
Luckily there are so many amazing new options. My favourite one is coconut yogurt!
Gluten is a general name for the proteins found in wheat (wheatberries, durum, emmer, semolina, spelt, farina, farro, graham, kamut, wheat and einkorn), rye and barley. Gluten helps foods maintain their shape, acting as a glue that holds food together.
Glutenintolerance is the over sensitivity of gluten, which can lead to a chronic inflammation of the intestinal mucosa in the small intestine. With time, this inflammation leads to damage of the villi, which are responsible for the absorption of essential nutrients. The absorption gets disrupted which leads to severe symptoms.
- Digestive issues such as gas, bloating, diarrhea and even constipation. I see the constipation particularly in children after eating gluten.
- Fatigue, brain fog or feeling tired after eating a meal that contains gluten.
- Inflammation, swelling or pain in your joints such as fingers, knees or hips.
What do to?
Make an appointment with your doctor if you are frequently experiencing symptoms after eating gluten. Always make sure you read the packaging properly because many times, gluten is being used in processed foods.
The Elimination Diet
Another option to find out whether you are affected by intolerances is an elimination diet. Eliminate gluten and/or lactose and/or histamine from your diet for about a week. If you feel significantly better, it’s a strong indication that you are affected by one or a combination of intolerances which you can individually test by reintroducing the food.
In order to get accurate results from this testing method you must eliminate 100% of gluten and/or lactose and/or histamine from your diet.
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