Histamine intolerance and HP-EVOO - Blog # 56
Hello Everyone! Welcome back to another Friday blog. Do you have weird symptoms or allergies, brain fog, fluid retention or just feel like poop? It could be due to an imbalance in histamine. It could be that your body is producing too much histamine or you are ingesting too many histamines in your food without being able to break it down and detox it from the body appropriately. When we hear the word histamine, most of us think of an anti-histamine, like Benadryl. So, what the heck is histamine?
Histamine is a chemical messenger released by Mast Cells (MC), a type of white blood cell, during an immune response to a virus, bacteria, foreign substance, injury, or potential allergen, such as a pollen, mold or food. MC are the first responders to interactions with our environment, and hence are the leaders in inflammation in the body. In fact, MC Histamine has been “implicated in the pathophysiology of COVID-19 as a regulator of proinflammatory, fibrotic, and thrombogenic processes.” This means inflammation goes up, our arteries become hardened and blood clots begin to form. MC activate an algic (pain) response in the body increasing inflammation and pain. Histamine actually acts as a hormone and neurotransmitter in the body. It wakes us up and makes us more alert. An anti-histamine, like Benadryl, makes us sleepy. So, if you have a problem getting rid of histamine, you probably have sleep issues as well.
Histamine intolerance, (HI) histaminosis or “mast cell activation syndrome”, is the gradual accumulation of histamine in the extracellular space. Histamines released from MC build up when the enzymes required for removal aren’t able to keep up, resulting in an imbalance. As levels of histamine rise, chronic low-level inflammation results. This can lead to chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia and other syndromes that are often ambiguous and hard to define.
The most common causes of HI include leaky gut, gut dysbiosis (imbalance in your gut microbes), Lyme disease (tick bite), or genetic or altered production of DAO. Diamine oxidase (DAO) is the enzyme responsible for breaking down histamine in the body. HI is also common in individuals with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, which is a connective-tissue disorder with hyper-mobile joints and loose, velvety skin. So, HI occurs when MC are producing too much histamine, you are ingesting too many foods high in histamine and/or your enzymes involved in detoxifying histamine are insufficient. It is also important to note that as food degrades and sits in our fridge, bacteria in the food convert the amino acid histadine to histamine. This is why fresh is best for these individuals!!! Even fermented foods like sauerkraut or kimchi are high in histamine due to bacterial fermentation. This can cause inflammation. Fluid can then build up in the interstitial space causing a puffiness in the body. This chronic low-grade inflammatory condition can be anywhere from mild to miserable. The resulting symptoms can include a spectrum of the following:
- Skin rash, hives, eczema, itching
- Headache, flushing, migraine, dizziness
- Narrowed or runny nose, difficulty breathing, bronchial asthma, sore throat
- Bloating, diarrhea, constipation, nausea / vomiting, abdominal pain, stomach sticking, heartburn
- High blood pressure (hypertension), tachycardia, cardiac arrhythmias, low blood pressure (hypotension)
- Menstrual disorders (dysmenorrhea), cystitis, urethritis and mucosal irritation of female genitalia
- Water retention (edema), bone marrow edema (BME), joint pain
- Fatigue, seasickness, tiredness, sleep disorders
- Confusion, nervousness, depressive moods
How do you know if you have HI? You can get some specific blood work from your MD, but you can also test yourself for free by drawing or writing on your skin with your fingernail. If it leaves a red raised pattern where you scratched, that is a positive test. It’s called dermatographic uticaria. This test tells you your mast cells are releasing histamine in the interstitial space, causing swelling. You also can do a temporary elimination diet, where you eliminate all the foods high in histamine for a period of time and see if you feel better and have a negative dermatographia test. Foods play an extrememely important role in this situation. Some foods that don’t even contain histamine (like citrus) can stimulate the liberation of stored histamine in the body. Other foods are histamine-rich and should be avoided, at least temporarily. Once you heal your gut, it’s possible you can tolerate them.
When you have HI in the digestive tract, it is typically due to gut dysbiosis or leaky gut. In this situation, certain bacteria can actually cause your body to produce excessive amounts of histamine and even convert the amino acid histidine to histamine in the gut. Foods that increase levels of histamine in the body:
High in histamine: Liberate histamine: Compete for DAO:
- some types of fish. Milk. Citrus fruits
- aged cheeses. Shellfish. Mushrooms
- processed meats. Eggs. Soybeans
- wine and beer. Kiwi. Bananas
- sauerkraut. Strawberry. Nuts
- fermented products. Pineapple
- spinach. Plum
Okay, so many of these foods are actually good for us. But, if you have HI it’s like throwing gasoline on a fire to the body. So, what can we do other than eliminate these foods? First, heal your gut. Understand that the lining of your gut is only one cell layer thick!! When it is inflamed, the tight junctions open, allowing microbes, protein molecules, and even sewage to escape the intestine and migrate into the body. When we eat high-gluten wheat grown here in the U.S., a chemical called zonulin is released. Zonulin triggers the tight-junctions to open, making this situation worse. Even if you have no symptoms of gluten intolerance, you can be causing a lot of damage to your gut without realizing it. Individuals with T2D (type 2 diabetes) and metabolic syndrome have high levels of zonulin.
Not only is the gluten extremely high in our GMO wheat due to the varietal, but it is sprayed prior to harvest with glyphosate (Roundup) to dessicate the wheat. Then, it is typically sprayed with calcium propionate to preserve it. These chemicals further damage our intestinal lining when we consume conventional wheat products. Glyphosate is used on >70 crops in the U.S., including fruits, vegetables, nuts as well as wheat, soy, corn and more. The FDA has approved >3,000 food additives that also wreak havoc on our gut.
So, how do we heal the gut? Since there is inflammation in the gut and in the interstitial tissue, it is crucial to counteract with anti-inflammatory and healing foods. Eating foods with a wide range of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and powerful anti-inflammatory phenols is best, but you may need to supplement some as well. Talk to your MD before taking any supplements. Here’s what the research shows:
- Turmeric - anti-inflammatory, anti-allergic, antioxidant. “Curcumin prevents disruption of the organization of tight junction proteins.” Curcumin also inhibits the release of histamine from mast cells. A 2016 study published in Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, showed improved nasal airflow and immune response in patients with allergic rhinitis. Consume with black pepper (piperine) increases absorption 2,000%. Curcumin + EVOO = endothelial healing. A 2021 study reported the “epigenetic properties of curcumin may suppress MC activation.” Recommendations are currently oral supplementation of curcumin helps to repair and restore intestinal barrier function.
- Omega 3s - Vitamin F, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-allergic, anti-hypertensive. Help by blocking release of histamine from mast cells. Also combats inflammation by negating the effects of interleukins and other inflammatory molecules. (Fish oil, krill oil) Omega 3s also heal the intestinal epithelium.
- Quercetin - Anti-inflammatory, anti-allergic. “Quercetin is a naturally occurring polyphenol flavonoid which is rich in antioxidants. It has anti-allergic functions that are known for inhibiting histamine production and pro-inflammatory mediators.” (Red onions, kale, capers, radish leaves, etc)
- Vitamin C - anti-inflammatory, anti-allergic due to its ability to breakdown histamine in the body.
- Vitamin D3 - Majority of people are deficient in vit D3. It is difficult, particularly in winter to get enough sun to synthesize the level of VitD necessary. “The data demonstrate that VitD is required to maintain the stability of mast cells. The deficiency of VitD results in mast cell activation.”
- Zinc - This trace mineral is deficient in >2 Billion people. It is a regulator and modulator of MC activation and histamine release.
- Probiotics - The good microbes - restores microbiome balance
- B Vitamins - Methylation donors (B12, folate, riboflavin) known to have epigenetic influence on our DNA, helping determine expression.
- HP-EVOO - High Polyphenol Extra Virgin Olive Oil - polyphenols in EVOO are powerful anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-tumor, anti-allergic, anti-atherosclerotic and more. Counteracts oxidative and inflammatory damage to enterocytes, preventing IBD (irritable bowel disease), ulcerative colitis, decreases mortality 50%, inhibits oncogenic factors including mutations. GUT: EVOO reduces the abundance of pathogenic bacteria, stimulates the growth of beneficial bacteria, and increases the production of microbially produced short-chain fatty acids, which exert a wide range of anti-inflammatory effects and can modulate the expression of a variety of genes via epigenetic mechanisms. EVOO supports the health of the intestinal mucosa and gut microbiota homeostasis by encouraging intestinal immunoglobulin A (IgA) production, dampening down inflammatory cytokine production, supporting production and expression of cytokines and transcription factors involved in reducing inflammation and promoting immune tolerance in the intestine and protecting against intestinal oxidative injury. I take a 4T shot of HP-EVOO every morning and it has healed my gut and changed my life. Check out blogs #22 and #25