Wendy Busse, RD

Blog Summary


Updated: May 2019

I would suggest reading the blog summary all the way through, then rereading it and following the links to the additional articles.

Food sensitivity is a complex topic. In the food sensitivity 101, I discuss how knowledge is like an iceberg. We review the “above the surface” information –the current knowledge and understanding about food sensitivity.  However, many food sensitivity conditions are “below the surface,” and we don’t yet know enough to explain them or have definitive diagnosis/treatment. As a result, there is a multitude of food sensitivity testing methods, but unfortunately, they all give different answers.  Luckily, even if you don’t know exactly what is causing your symptoms, you can still take action with puzzling food sensitivity symptoms.

IgE food allergy is one of the best understood food sensitivities. The immune system mistakes a food protein as a foreign threat and releases inflammatory chemicals. Food- dependent, mast cell activation (MCAD) and dietary histamine intolerance (HIT) can have similar inflammatory symptoms and are possible explanations why some people suffer from food allergy symptoms, even though they do not have a true food allergy. Comparing allergy, HIT and MCAD can help readers get a better sense of what may be causing their symptoms. However, these conditions are largely “below the surface,” so exact answers are difficult to provide.

The low histamine diet is becoming a popular treatment, and in some cases is being over prescribed. Very little is known about histamine in food (“below the surface” knowledge), so there is a lot of speculation and misinformation on the internet. We review five low histamine diet myths. A low histamine diet should be used as a short trial and only continued if it is beneficial. The practical guide to the low histamine diet describes how you can trial the diet in four steps – each step is a different part of the diet and will help you find which parts (if any) are most beneficial without over restricting. The practical guide includes tips to minimize histamine formation during food storage and sample meal plans. I’ve provided a few low histamine recipes to help make the diet more interesting.

A key point is that food tolerance is individual.  Diet plans can be helpful guidelines, but you need to adapt the guidelines to suit your individual needs.

Similarly, treatments are individual and successful protocols take experimentation. I’ve provided information on the most common medications and medicinal supplements, so the reader has more information to discuss these with their physician.  Diamine oxidase enzyme (DAO) supplements break histamine down in the digestive system. DAO may help some individuals that experience histamine-related symptoms when they eat.

5 Responses

  1. Hi Wendy!
    I am sorry to hear that canned fish is considered as high histamine, as I enjoy it for a quick healthy travel option. My question is, does packets of such also have high levels of histamine or is it the canned products only?
    Thank you

    1. Hi Alaina, canned fish (or packets) are only high in histamine if they have been improperly processed/canned (and bacteria have grown). In most cases, canned fish/packets should be low in histamine.

    1. Hi Sam,
      Dr. Joneja mentions one company in Canada that supplies a DAO supplement called Umbrellex . Seeking Health in the US also has one. I, personally, use sprouted green peas that can be bought dried and in bulk from True Leaf Market https://www.trueleafmarket.com/ and I eat a half cup sprouted, raw peas each day in a protein nut milk smoothie. They are one of the foods highest in DAO.
      Hope you have success!

      1. Umbrellux is the company that is licensed to bring the porcine DAO into the United States, but I am not aware of any companies that are importing it into Canada.
        There has not been enough research to know which legumes are highest in DAO. For more information, please read “Pea sprouts” in the article above.

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