Darned if the universe doesn’t keep giving me weird issues to deal with (so I can tell you all about them, I suppose?)
It crept in for months:
surprise moments of fatigue, the odd wave of nausea for no good reason, loss of strength and vigor.
(For a quick version of this info, see How to Drop Long Haul Fatigue, Weakness, Mucus, Nausea – written when I finally kicked the histamine problem which plagues so many of us.)
This issue flipped everything upside down for me. Now I don’t know what to believe in.
My favorite so-called healthy foods (daily pumpkin seeds, tomatoes, tomato juice, avocados, spinach, shrimp, cashews, most nuts, beans, lentils, chickpeas) – turned out to be high in histamine.
I was inadvertently overloading my system.
Meanwhile, my daily black tea (healthier than coffee, I thought) – slowly sabotaged my body’s ability to handle histamine.
Our natural enzyme, diamine oxidase – DAO – breaks down histamine.
But black tea, green tea, maté, and alcohol deplete DAO. (Probably coffee does too.)
The clincher on my self-diagnosis came when one sip of tea flattened me.
(I had to lie down on the spot, suddenly felt super-sick.)
This was histamine intolerance, histamine out-of-balance.
I discovered that a 24-hour antihistamine would block the nausea and some of the fatigue.
(So I took it for weeks, but that’s not a great idea in the long run.)
In the meantime, experts found that long covid symptoms include histamine intolerance and mast cell activation syndrome (which also raises histamine, but that story is too long to tell here – I later wrote on it here).
Long haul Covid??
“Not me, no way,” I said, “I’m not having that.”
(Covid, schmovid, did you tip me over the edge? Shut it down.)
Symptoms of high histamine may include headaches, sinus issues, fatigue, digestive issues, hives, nausea, vomiting.
Severe cases may have abdominal cramping, high blood pressure dizziness, irregular heart rate.
(Mine was a light case, Thanks, God.)
Histamine is found in all foods.
It is much higher in things like vinegar, fermented foods, soy sauce, pickled foods, processed/smoked meats and fish, all leftovers older than 24 hours (unless frozen to save them), all canned and processed foods, many spices, hot sauce, condiments, and chemical additives.
The low-histamine food lists go into great detail.
They remove a lot more from your diet, including wheat, gluten, dairy, specific vegetables and fruits, and much more.
Some foods trigger the release of more histamine even if they are not high histamine themselves. (Wheat, dairy, bananas, citrus, eggs, chocolate, etc.)
To process and reduce histamine, we need the vital DAO enzyme as well as Quercetin (found in foods such as onions, apples, broccoli).
This issue is complicated, but if it resonates with you, investigate the above links for a lot more info.
The Histamine Intolerance Remedy?
Cook everything totally fresh and fairly bland for each meal.
Even boil the meat to reduce histamine.
No processed foods, canned or prepared foods.
Everything is as fresh as possible, cooked by you.
Don’t do anything spicy, fermented, or flavorful (ha).
Eat foods high in Quercetin and/or use a supplement.
Get your vitamin C.
Drink lots of water to lower your histamine.
No alcohol, tea, caffeine, vinegar during this diet.
Follow the detailed low-histamine food lists (no spinach, tomato, citrus, cheese, etc.)
I endured for three weeks.
That’s the minimum it takes to reduce histamine so your body can heal.
Ironically, I was allowed plain potato chips.
I ate a lot of them.
They were my only escape from Bland Land.
Unfortunately, the chips put me in mind of an aunt who spent the last five years of her life eating only potato chips. We suspected that was a poor choice. I don’t want to take that road.
I’ve also been using the first two of these Natural Histamine Blockers:
Quercetin with Bromelain
Stinging nettle leaf
After 3 or 4 weeks of the super low-histamine diet, you can gradually dip your toe back into higher histamine waters, and see how your body reacts.
Some advice says to try just one new food per week.
(That’s where I am now, but advancing more liberally, and feeling fairly good so far.)
What did I learn?
- Don’t ingest any one item every single day.
(My daily glasses of tomato juice and handfuls of pumpkin seeds backfired.)
- Get variety and don’t drink too much vinegar. Or alcohol. Or tea.
- Don’t eat leftovers past 24 hours old (freeze them instead).
- Histamine intolerance is like a bucket of “too much,” but Yes, you can empty the bucket and feel better.
- We need not fear any food, but be moderate, reasonable.
We don’t want to eat so many carrots that our skin turns orange (from the beta-carotene).
And we’re not going to spend months at sea without any vegetables or fruits, and get scurvy, right? (Scurvy brings weakness, diseases of the skin and gums – is that why pirates are missing their teeth?)
In the past few months, I’ve done a ton of web research to heal this histamine intolerance (HIT). The resources don’t always agree 100% with each other on some details, but the overall advice is solid.
You’ll find lots of info to adjust your diet and feel better soon (or within a few weeks, anyhow, halleluiah).
Have you dealt with this aspect of long covid? What do you think?
Please comment below.
I firmly believe the body can and will heal from everything!
Remember, our cells constantly replace themselves.
We are restored always.
Check out also how-to-stop-long-haul-covid-and-feel-good-again.
Want more details on histamine intolerance?
High Histamine Foods – avoid these!
fermented food and drink
coffee and tea
chickpeas and lentils, beans
cashews, walnuts, peanuts
curry and cinnamon
Leftover food, over 24 hours old (freeze it instead)
Foods that trigger histamine release:
Alcohol, bananas, tomatoes, wheat germ, beans, papaya, chocolate, citrus, walnuts, cashews, peanuts, food dyes
Eggs, kiwi, milk, shellfish, strawberry, pineapple, plum
Wheat interacts badly.
Foods that block DAO:
Alcohol, black tea, mate, green tea, energy drinks, (coffee)
These nutrients boost DAO enzyme levels:
Omega-3 fatty acids and olive oil
Phosphorus, calcium, zinc, magnesium, iron, vitamin B12
Olive oil increases DAO in the bloodstream by up to 500%, says one resource.
High Quercetin foods:
Onions, especially red onions
Progesterone naturally lowers histamine levels, somewhat.
(If you’re a mature woman like myself, you might want to use topical progesterone cream. Check with your doc.)
Wishing you all the best!
(Thanks to Pixabay for this image. I used it ‘cuz I felt about this strange.)