Combat Allergies: Mastering Histamine Intolerance Solutions
Histamine is a naturally occurring compound in our bodies, playing a crucial role in the digestive, nervous, and immune systems. It's produced and released by white blood cells into our bloodstream as part of the immune response against potential allergens (1). This release is what triggers allergic reactions, especially when encountering allergens like pollen, mold, and specific foods. If you've ever experienced an allergic reaction, you're probably familiar with symptoms like nasal congestion, itchy skin, headaches, and sneezing which are associated with elevated histamine levels.
Moreover, histamine is also present in certain foods we consume, particularly those that are aged, cured, or fermented, such as cheese, wine, pickles, and smoked meats. As such, it's imperative for the body to have mechanisms to manage and degrade this compound efficiently.
Histamine, while vital for immune responses, can sometimes be a double-edged sword. When produced in excess or not broken down efficiently, histamine can lead to uncomfortable or even severe reactions in sensitive individuals. DAO, or diamine oxidase, is the primary enzyme responsible for breaking down histamines, ensuring histamine levels remain in a healthy range. This enzyme's activity is closely tied to copper. Hence, when there's a deficiency in DAO, often due to insufficient copper, individuals can become intolerant to histamine.
While a few other enzymes, like histamine n-methyltransferase, also address histamines produced within the body, issues with these enzymes are relatively rare. The most common strategy to combat histamine intolerance involves dietary modifications.
Foods Rich in DAO: The leading dietary sources of DAO are organ meats like kidney, thymus, and intestines. As DAO is primarily produced in these organs, incorporating them into one's diet can be highly beneficial for those with histamine intolerance.
"Diamine oxidase (DAO) catabolizes and inactivates histamine, a key player in a wide range of invalidating conditions, such as migraine and chronic spontaneous urticaria (CSU), long lasting hives with no apparent cause. The highest expression of DAO occurs in the gastrointestinal tract, possibly to control the burden of histamine intake from food." - from the study below.
Copper and its Role: Liver, a nutrient-dense food, contains approximately 2.7mg of copper per 28g, an essential mineral for DAO enzyme function. It's worth noting that many individuals might have an insufficient copper intake. One must be cautious with the excessive consumption of zinc, especially through supplements. An overabundance of zinc affects copper absorption due to its binding with metallothionein proteins in the gut cells. This can potentially lead to copper deficiency. Balancing zinc intake from muscle meat with copper from liver can offer a nutritional equilibrium.
Addressing the Underlying Cause: It's essential to identify and address the root causes of histamine intolerance. In many cases, copper deficiency can be a significant underlying factor. Gut inflammation, too, can result in decreased DAO production. It is crucial to maintain gut health to ensure optimal DAO levels. This involves:
- Dietary Adjustments: Eliminating foods that might irritate the gut is essential. Certain high-lectin plant foods, and those that fall into the "toxic" category, might be detrimental. "The Carnivore Code" offers insights into the effects of these foods.
- Nutritional Support: Prioritizing foods that nourish the gut lining is beneficial. A nose-to-tail animal-based diet can be particularly enriching in this regard.
- Maintaining Gut Flora: Ensuring a balanced gut microbiome without harmful bacteria or parasites is vital.
By embracing these strategies, many individuals may find not only relief from histamine intolerance but also improvements in conditions like seasonal allergies, such as hay fever, and animal allergies. Potentially enabling them to reintroduce foods that were previously problematic.