Tips for a Low-Histamine Diet

Allison Bush | June 23, 2015 Nov 17, 2016

Reviewed by Allen J. Blaivas, DO

1 of 11
1 of 11
Credit: iStock

Histamine is a protein released by the body in response to an allergen. But with chronic idiopathic urticaria, the specific allergen is unknown. These histamines dilate the blood vessels, causing itching, flaking, and reddening of the skin. So what can you do to lessen the load of histamines in the body to try to lessen the frequency of flares?

2 of 11

Understand how histamine works

Credit: iStock

Histamine exists in the body to cause an immediate inflammatory response, and warn your immune system of a potential attacker (allergen). Histamine buildup can give you a headache and leave you feeling flushed, itchy and miserable.

3 of 11

What does it affect?

Credit: iStock

Because it travels throughout your bloodstream, histamine can affect your gut, lungs, skin, brain, and entire cardiovascular system. This can contribute to a wide range of problems - often making it difficult to pinpoint and diagnose.

4 of 11

Learn about histamine-rich foods

Credit: iStock

There are a variety of foods that naturally contain high levels of histamine, which can be problematic for people unable to breakdown this chemical. People with histamine intolerance should avoid wine, beer, champagne, fermented foods, dried fruit, citrus fruits, tofu, cured meats, aged cheese, nuts, smoked fish, and nightshade vegetables.

5 of 11

Low-histamine foods

Credit: Thinkstock

Looking for what might be a low-histamine food? Think “fresh.” This list includes fresh meat or poultry, fresh fish, eggs, gluten-free grains, dairy substitutes, pure peanut butter (usually tolerated even if peanuts are not), fresh herbs, mango, pear, watermelon, apple, kiwi, cantaloupe, grapes, and cooking oils.

6 of 11

How are histamines broken down?

Credit: iStock

Histamine is either stored or broken down by an enzyme. Histamine in the central nervous system is broken down primarily by histamine N-methyltransferase (HMT). Ingested histamine in the digestive tract is broken down primarily by diamine oxidase (DAO).

7 of 11

Medication

Credit: iStock

Take note: Some medications block your body’s ability to breakdown and eliminate whatever histamines you do happen take in. The most common over-the-counter culprits are alcohol, acid-blockers, and NSAIDs.

8 of 11

Know your histamine intolerance

Credit: iStock

Talk to your doctor about the possibility of histamine intolerance, and get a lab test of your DAO and histamine levels. You can also try an elimination diet and gradually remove histamine-rich foods from your diet to see how your body reacts.

9 of 11

Focus on what you can eat

Credit: iStock

If you constantly focus on what you can’t eat as part of a low-histamine diet, you may start to feel a little depressed and want to give up. Remember, the goal is not to completely eliminate histamine, it’s just a matter of lessening the load on your body. Do focus on what you can eat, though, and you will forget you ever changed your diet.

10 of 11

Journal your meals

Credit: iStock

If you don’t know what you’re eating, you may miss out on what could be causing a reaction in your body. To log meals, you can try the old fashioned method of documenting using pen and paper, keep a spreadsheet on your computer, or use a food journaling app on your smart phone.

11 of 11

Learn to be flexible

Credit: iStock

Living with a chronic condition can be difficult, but learn that it’s OK to get off course every now and again. It’s best not to stress and to do the best you can.

NEXT: Chronic Hives: What Are Heat Hives?
More on this topic

Superfoods for Chronic Hives Relief

Allison Bush

What People Living with CIU Want You to Know

Kristina Brooks

Chronic Idiopathic Urticaria and Your Thyroid

Eileen Bailey

Caring for Your Skin During CIU Remission

Eileen Bailey

Debunking Myths About Chronic Hives

Eileen Bailey

Understanding Cold Induced Hives

Eileen Bailey

Everything You Need to Know About Chronic Hives

Allison Bush

Hives Allergies or Asthma? These Orgs Can Help!

Kristina Brooks

Tips and Home Remedies for Hives

Kristina Brooks

What Are Heat Hives??

Eileen Bailey

Treating Chronic Urticaria (Hives) During Menopause

Eileen Bailey

Weather Changes and Chronic Hives

Diane Domina

Reducing Stress with Urticaria

Eileen Bailey

Chronic Hives: Protecting Your Skin Against Heat Flare-Ups

Eileen Bailey

When Medications Aren't Enough for Your CIU

James Thompson, MD

Doctor Q&A: What You Need to Know About CIU

Allison Bush

Diagnosing and Treating CIU

James Thompson, MD

FAQ: Chronic Idiopathic Urticaria (CIU)

Allison Bush

Why Hives and Swelling Go Hand in Hand

James Thompson, MD

Your First Doctor's Visit

James Thompson, MD

Managing Chronic Hives (Urticaria)

James Thompson, MD

What You Need to Know About Chronic Hives

Eileen Bailey

Why Chronic Hives Remain a Puzzle

James Thompson, MD

Itchy Skin and Chronic Hives

Paula J. Busse, M.D.

What Doctors Wish You Knew About Chronic Hives

Eileen Bailey

Living Well with Chronic Hives

Life with Chronic Hives: One Mom’s Story

In Real Life: Chronic Hives

3 Women Living With Chronic Hives

Eileen Bailey

Do's and Don'ts - Traveling with Chronic Hives

Eileen Bailey

Managing Stress with Urticaria

Eileen Bailey

Managing Heat Induced Hives

Eileen Bailey

Chronic Hives - Myths and Facts

Eileen Bailey

Treatment Options for Chronic Hives

Allison Bush