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Dangerous things are in everything we love: what makes histamine so treacherous

Tachycardia, rash and digestive problems are symptoms of many illnesses, allergies or intolerances. Patients often have a myriad of tests and a true ordeal on examination when physicians suspect histamine intolerance symptoms.

As their diagnosis is very non-specific, it is still unclear how many people in Germany actually suffer from it. Histamine is a so-called biogenic amine. It occurs during protein removal and conversion, and occurs – in small quantities – in almost all foods.

Histamine is also produced directly in the human body, as a tissue hormone. Causes muscle contractions, for example, in the respiratory tract, intestinal tract or uterus. At the same time it has a relaxing effect on blood vessels – which can lead to a drop in blood pressure or increased vascular permeability.

If someone has an allergic reaction, histamine is always involved, causing, for example, skin redness, abdominal pain, or irregular heartbeat.

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This happens when there is too much histamine in the body

The body of people suffering from histamine intolerance cannot break it down fast enough to cause allergy symptoms. This may be because it does not produce enough of the enzyme diamine oxidase (DAO), which is responsible for the breakdown of histamine, or that humans take up other biogenic amines, such as serotonin. Their breakdown also requires DAO, which ultimately leaves enough enzymes to break down histamine.

But not only the lack of enzymes, but excessive consumption of foods containing histamine or acute gastrointestinal infection can lead to symptoms of intolerance.

Histamine intolerance: these are symptoms

Symptoms of histamine intolerance are similar to allergy symptoms. According to the Technical University of Munich (TUM), this can be the following:

  • Redness, itching, eczema
  • Nausea, diarrhea, stomach cramps, bloating
  • Tachycardia, dizziness, cardiac arrhythmia, drop in blood pressure
  • Asthma, runny nose, headache, migraines

According to TUM experts, histamine intolerance is not a congenital disease. Over the course of life, more people develop and most of the affected, about 80 percent, are women over 40. However, since it is very difficult to detect histamine intolerance, there is no precise data on the disease in Germany.

Diagnosis: No special examinations are possible

All those suffering from the above symptoms and whose cause has not been identified or suspected to be suffering from histamine intolerance should consult their doctor.

However, there is no direct investigation to diagnose histamine intolerance. Instead, your doctor will prescribe a histamine-poor diet, also called the elimination diet. For a few weeks, remove the histamine-containing foods from your diet. If the symptoms improve, you are more likely to suffer from histamine intolerance.

A so-called provocative test is also possible, in which the victim is fed a high-histamine diet. If the body responds or exacerbates symptoms, it can also be expected to suffer from histamine intolerances.

Treatment of histamine intolerance: Dietary changes required

Treatment for histamine intolerance is nearing a diagnosis: patients change their diet over the long term, and at least for now without histamine-containing foods. As a rule, the symptoms improve after a few weeks.

Even though some drugs can release histamine in the human body, these should also avoid those affected. These include anti-inflammatory analgesics with the active ingredient diclofenac, medicines containing acetylcysteine, such as ACC, but also metamizole, which, for example, is contained in Novalgin.

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This food should be avoided

Particularly long stored or very mature foods contain a lot of histamine. The following foods contain or release histamine in the body – so it should be avoided in the case of intolerance:

  • Soy sauce, soy products, red wine vinegar, glutamate
  • Salami, (long ripe) cheese
  • Sour cabbage, tomato, pickled vegetables and canned vegetables
  • Beer, wine, sparkling wine
  • Fish, if not properly stored, especially mackerel, shellfish and mussels
  • Smoked, dried, marinated, dried meat and poultry
  • Overripe fruits, citrus fruits, bananas, strawberries, nuts
  • Chocolate, marzipan, jam, peanut cream
  • Black and green tea, citrus juices

Low Histamine Diet: What is Allowed?

One who suffers from histamine intolerance does not automatically have to throw everything delicious out of their life. According to TUM, the following foods contain little histamine and are therefore absolutely allowed:

  • Fresh and frozen meat and poultry, cooked and cooked sausages
  • Cod, sait, plate
  • Fresh milk, yogurt, butter, cream cheese, quark
  • Bread, rolls, pasta, rice
  • Melons, cherries. Apples, nectarines
  • Potatoes, lettuce, onions, cucumber
  • Fruit gum, popcorn, honey
  • Coffee, tea (except black and green), fruit juices (except citrus fruits)
  • Clear wine, white wine, light beer
  • Oils, apple cider vinegar, vinegar essence

TUM experts also recommend that when buying food, pay special attention to the freshness of food and food directly from the refrigerator, not to heat it at room temperature. They also advise long-term storage of food – instead, they recommend freezing it. Meat and fish dishes should also not be warmed up and generally refrain from flavor enhancers.