Are you experiencing a selection of the following symptoms?
Increased allergies or sensitivities
Headaches and migraines
Digestive problems – abdominal pain, IBS, gas
Fatigue, brain fog
Anxiety and insomnia
Irregular heart rate
Nausea and vomiting
Skin rashes and itching
If so – then it may well be worth looking into histamine intolerance (HIT).
Histamine is a chemical in our body involved in immune responses and is also found in various foods. It's usually harmless but can cause typical allergy symptoms when it accumulates excessively, a condition known as histamine intolerance (HIT).
First off, histamine isn't the bad guy here. It's a natural part of our immune response—think of it as the body's own SOS signal during an allergy attack, causing symptoms like itchy skin and sneezing. It's also present in some foods we eat and is produced by our immune and digestive systems.
Problems start when histamine hangs around longer than it should.
Imagine your body as a bathtub with the tap on and the drain open. If water (histamine) flows in faster than it can drain, you've got an overflow situation. This can happen due to;
Excess production internally
Slow breakdown or
Consuming histamine-rich foods like certain alcohols, cheeses, and processed meats.
Causes of Histamine Intolerance
There are two main areas where histamine is 'processed' and removed: the gut and the liver.
There are also two main enzymes that degrade histamine, (DAO and HNMT).
These enzymes can be affected by;
Inflammation in the gut
High levels of chronic stress
Some drugs, especially aspirin, NSAIDs and oestrogen
Menopause and HIT
So, why should you keep a lookout for HIT during perimenopause?
Histamine intolerance might seem rare, but it can often go undiagnosed. It's essential to consider HIT if you're experiencing an increase in allergic reactions or undiagnosed symptoms, particularly during perimenopause.
Oestrogen influences histamine levels.
It encourages histamine release and can slow down the breakdown of histamine by inhibiting the DAO enzyme responsible for its elimination. This can result in a cycle where histamine and oestrogen levels perpetually boost each other.
Many women in perimenopause report new or worsening symptoms like headaches, digestive issues, or skin rashes, which may, in fact, be linked to HIT.
Many women also notice a sudden onset of allergies or intolerance to foods and drinks they used to enjoy without a hitch. That glass of wine or slice of aged cheese might suddenly turn you into a sneezy, itchy mess.
And since oestrogen levels fluctuate during this time, histamine-related symptoms can often emerge or increase.
If you're considering hormone replacement therapy (HRT), be aware that it may affect histamine intolerance.
The weird thing that can often support a diagnosis is that during pregnancy, despite increased oestrogen, one of the breakdown enzymes is speeded up by 500x. Often, these symptoms abate and then return post-pregnancy.
Is this Histamine Intolerance?
Getting to the bottom of HIT isn't a walk in the park. Testing for the enzymes that break down histamine or trying a low-histamine diet can shed some light. Still, it's best done under professional guidance.
Start using a food diary- this may help you identify what food sources your body is more or less accepting of.
Managing histamine levels typically involves:
1. Gut health: Taking care of your gut health.
2. Liver support: The liver plays a crucial role in breaking down histamine.
3. Diet: Avoid high-histamine foods and opt for fresh, low-histamine options.
Avoid alcohol, tea, green tea, coffee, fermented foods, sauces, processed foods, citrus, avocados, spinach, aubergines, tomatoes, gluten, dairy, hard cheeses, strawberries, tropical fruits, and chocolate.
Eat more: fresh meat and fish, fresh vegetables (except those above), non-citrus fresh fruits, eggs, dairy substitutes, gluten-free grains, and certain seeds, including chia seeds.
Vitamin C, quercetin, and DAO enzymes can support histamine breakdown. Stress reduction and regular sleep are also crucial in managing histamine levels effectively.
Remember, navigating dietary changes and supplements should be done with guidance from a nutritionist or dietitian experienced in HIT.
If you are struggling with HRT – find a Dr who is aware of histamine intolerance and work with them, and ideally, a nutritionist to achieve the right balance.
For more information, helpful resources include:
- [Histamine Intolerance UK](https://www.histamineintolerance.org.uk/)
Please schedule a complimentary call with me to discuss your experiences. This conversation is an opportunity to explore your symptoms and the possible ways to manage them with absolutely no obligation. Remember, understanding and then addressing your symptoms is vital to finding relief and improving your daily life.