It’s been 1 year since I found out I have a histamine intolerance. My life, body and digestion have completely changed in the BEST way possible since finding this out so I wanted to share exactly what it is with all of you. For 3 years I struggled with horrible stomach pains, bloating, and weight gain for no apparent reason. I visited countless doctors, naturopaths, nutritionists and gastroenterologists to try and find out what was wrong. I spent thousands of dollars only to end up frustrated and more sick. Eventually I gave up and decided to take matters into my own hands. I read and researched EVERYTHING I could about what causes stomach problems and bloating. I learned a TON and became more and more interested in health, wellness and digestion. Through sharing my struggles, I found out so many of you – and so many women in general suffer from stomach pains and bloating too! It’s something that not many people talk about, but instead silently suffer from.
It makes me so sad to think about how my stomach problems negatively effected my life. I had brain fog for years and couldn’t fully focus like I used to, I was constantly inflamed/puffy, I started gaining weight despite eating super clean/healthy and working out almost everyday, I felt depressed/down way more than usual so I started canceling social plans, I was always tired/low energy, I felt self conscious because my stomach would expand and I would look pregnant after eating just a few bites of food, I never had hunger pangs/signals like I used to, and overall I felt completely out of tune/out of whack with my body. Now, I wake up clear headed. I have hunger signals and am able to listen to my body’s cravings, I have energy, I pretty much never get bloated, and my digestion is 100% back to normal – if not even better than it was 3 years ago. So what changed?
A friend of mine; Bianca Cheah of Sporteluxe, told me she had been struggling for years with the same issues, and had been misdiagnosed with IBS, and all sorts of other digestion problems. She finally visited a nutritionist who asked her what she ate in a week, and realized that while she was eating a TON of healthy food, the food was all high in Histamines or released Histamines. The nutritionist told her to eliminate all Histamine food for 1 week and see how she felt. Thank goodness she shared her journey on Instagram, because I realized I ate pretty much the same exact healthy food as she did (smoothies, probiotics, coffee, fruit, nuts, avocado, spinach, the occasional glass of wine etc.) I immediately researched Histamine Intolerances and couldn’t believe that no doctor had ever even mentioned this as a possibility! I had all of the symptoms and my entire diet pretty much consisted of only Histamine food! I realized I had nothing to lose by eliminating high Histamine food from my diet for 1 week so I did – and within 3 days I felt like a new person. The brain fog was GONE. The bloating was GONE. The lethargic/tired feeling was GONE. The sluggish digestion was GONE. IT WAS A MIRACLE.
I do want to mention, of course I am not a doctor and you should consult with your doctor before making any drastic diet or health changes! I love sharing what’s worked for ME/my body on here, but everyone’s systems are different!
Is There A Test for Histamine Intolerance?
Yes there is, but I’ve never taken one. I’ve taken SO many tests over the years and I personally have found many to be inaccurate or inconclusive. For example, I took a food sensitivity test (an igG blood test which tests the protein in your blood against certain food items to see if they’re inflammatory for your specific body), and many high Histamine food items came up on the “Anti-Inflammatory” aka “Good” list, but in reality they completely bloat me and make me sick. While some of the food items they did list as “Anti-Inflammatory” or “Inflammatory” were accurate (for example “Inflammatory” aka “Bad/No-No” items were things like shellfish that I’m allergic to and always hated as a kid), I would say about 25% of the items were just not accurate at all. Like I full on get hives when I eat walnuts, but they oddly came up as “Anti-Inflammatory” or “Good” for me. Health journeys can be really, really frustrating for this reason. We all want either a “YES” or “NO” “POSITIVE” or “NEGATIVE”, definitive answer, but sometimes it’s pretty tricky to get one. There are several things that could be interfering with 100% accurate results… you could have had a high dose of a certain food item days before the test which could alter it, or, if you’re combining certain types of food in high amounts, the test may not take that combination into account and say that each food item is individually “Good” for you. The only way, I feel, to truly find out what works or doesn’t work is through trial and error. Eat something and see how it makes you feel after. This is also known as the Elimination Diet.
What Foods are High in Histamine/Release Histamines?
There are several different lists floating around the internet. Most of them have the same “No-No” food items listed, but some of them have items others don’t, and some also are a bit contradicting. For example one list I found says Probiotics are GOOD for you, and one list said they’re BAD for you if you have a Histamine Intolerance. I personally trust Dr. Amy Myer’s list the most, and have found that Probiotics only contribute negatively to my stomach issues, so I have eliminated them completely as of 1 year ago – and my digestion/health is great without them. The high Histamine/Histamine releasing food items that I found to effect me in high doses are (and again everyone is so different so this may not apply to YOU!); avocados, tea, coffee, wine, champagne, bone broth, nightshades, garlic, onions, probiotics, collagen and protein powders, nuts, spinach, kale, fermented food, vinegar, fruit, and anything that’s not super fresh/has been sitting out because the older a food is, the more histamine it develops over time!
What Can You Eat?
Surprisingly, since eliminating high Histamine/Histamine releasing food I can actually eat WAY MORE than I used to! Because I was always bloated I pretty much eliminated; dairy, gluten and alcohol, but since I am no longer constantly in pain/bloated and have healed my digestion, I can enjoy a little bit of dairy, gluten and alcohol here and there without any negative side effects. It brings me SO MUCH JOY to be able to indulge and eat yummy pizza and pasta dishes, desserts, and cocktails like I used to!!!! Before finding out I had a histamine intolerance, I always felt deprived, but I was SO full from eating “healthy” food that was actually toxic for me/my body. Do I stay away from foods high in Histamine 100% of the time? No of course not. It’s just not realistic/or feasible with my lifestyle. Luckily, since I’ve worked hard at healing my gut, I can enjoy things like 1 glass of wine occasionally – or have a little soy sauce with my sushi without feeling totally sick, bloated, and in pain. But I certainly do not eat copious amounts of high Histamine food anymore.
What Exasperates A Histamine Intolerance?
Combining multiple food items that are high in Histamine/release Histamine, eating them everyday, and/or eating them in high volume. For example, if there’s a raspberry fruit tart that I REALLY want I will eat it, but I’ll just make sure I don’t have other high Histamine food with it or on that same day. For me, it’s just about being more aware and varying the levels of Histamine food items that are going into my body.
Are Certain People More Likely To Have It Than Others?
Yes. If you have Candida, SIBO, leaky gut, or other stomach issues you’re more likely/vulnerable to having a Histamine Intolerance. Dr. Amy Myer’s talks more about this on her website and has a lot of great resources should you be interested in learning more about that. I used to have Candida, but when I was recently re-tested it said I didn’t have it, yet I do still have a sensitivity to Histamine. So, because I know I’m still sensitive – despite having a healthy gut – I choose to pretty much stay away from high Histamine food inevitably.
I hope this helped answer any questions you may have had on the topic. I’m so passionate about creating awareness about Histamine Intolerances because doctors don’t talk about them enough! Simply eliminating a few food items CHANGED MY LIFE. I now start the morning with a green juice and eat a balanced diet (mostly free of histamines) throughout the day. I don’t take any pills, supplements or vitamins and have more energy than I did in my 20s. If you’ve ever had a Histamine Intolerance or do try eliminating them and feel great after – please let me know! I would love to hear about your experience below!