Histamine Overload

imagesI’ve been on an eating journey, so to speak.  About a year and a half ago, my family cut the GMO’s out of our diet.  Genetically Modified Foods can cause tumors in lab rats.  They have worked their way into nearly all of our pre-packaged and convenience foods.  The  crops that have been most tampered with in our country are corn and soy.  We stopped purchasing foods that had corn or soy on the label that were not organic.

Then, my husband began a modified paleo diet on the advise of his doctor.  He had to cut out all “white” items from his menu – no rice, potatoes, pasta or bread.  Ouch!  That hurt.  In order to make cooking more simple and to be supportive, the family began eating this way – at least for dinner when we all sit down together.  Our grocery bill increased as we were forced to purchase a lot more lean meat and fresh produce.  My husband began losing pounds immediately.

Next, one night when I was up with night sweats, itching and restless legs, I took to the computer looking for answers for myself.  I stumbled upon a blog where the woman unbelievably described all of my ongoing symptoms (years worth!):
* Migraine  *Flushing *Arrhythmia ( irregular heart beat)
*Low blood pressure-due to vasodilation caused by the histamine
(*Runny nose *Heartburn-due to increased acid production) not so much for me
*Persistent itching- typically of the skin – often without a rash
* PMS- Headaches around the menstrual cycle or painful cramps due to histamine               induced contractions in relation to hormone levels *Infertility*Fatigue *Restless Leg   Syndrome*Dry Cough*Anxiety*Bloating…

Oh my goodness!  I know it is not good to self diagnose using the internet, but this sounded like a page from my medical history!  I learned that the body can go into histamine overload due to stress.  Uh!  Hello!  I learned that the hormonal fluctuations of pre-menopause can cause it.  Hello again!  Long term use of anti depressants can cause the body to make less of an enzyme that breaks down histamines naturally.  I’ve had this mysterious upper arm itching, dry cough and restless leg syndrome for years – on and off.   I’ve had all kinds of testing done – all negative.

Histamine overload is not a food allergy.  It will not register on a food allergy scratch test or blood test.  Modifying my diet to reduce histamine intake on top of trying to eat GMO free has been difficult.   There are so many foods that are high in histamine.  These were the staples of my diet:

yogurt, olive, pickles, chocolate, nuts (other than almonds), spinach, tomatoes, wine, tea, dried fruit, cheese, avocado, leftovers, fish (unless it’s freshly caught)…and the list goes on!  Oh how I miss the cheese and chocolate!

For a month now, I’ve eliminated these items from my diet.  Tough – but the symptoms – itching, coughing and restless legs – and migraines (come to think of it) have greatly improved!   Now, I’m reintroducing some of the offending foods on a limited basis – being careful not to overdo it – especially during periods of great stress.  I’ve had to reintroduce some foods in small quantities in order to get enough calories each day. I also have an enzyme supplement that I can take to help break down histamine in the body when I partake of a “cheat meal” on occasion.  I really do feel better!

If you are suffering annoying symptoms that are making you feel lousy, don’t give up searching for an answer.  Just because doctors cannot find an explanation for your symptoms doesn’t mean that they’re all in your head.  Our bodies are wonderful complex machines, and doctors have limited expertise.  Don’t underestimate the effect that nutrition – good or bad – has on the body.  Food is a powerful tool (that you have within your control) to improve your overall health and well-being.

Here are a couple of articles I found helpful:



About danardoyle

I am a Catholic, working wife and mother. I have three children ages 14, 20 and 27. I am extremely busy, as you can imagine. I aim each and every day to put God first in my life, to teach my children the Faith, to be a supportive spouse, keep the house in order, and do my job outside of the home well, too. That's an impossible task - without Divine intervention! Here, I hope to share my triumphs and struggles with other working moms in the same boat. I will share the tools I have discovered to making it all work - most days!
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