Hay fever. I have it. Do you? Did you know that what you eat could be making your hay fever worse? In my previous post I shared about oral allergy syndrome. Today I’m talking about food and histamine.
All human bodies contain histamine. And most of us, most of the time, aren’t bothered by it one bit. However, our bodies have a threshold for histamine. And when the level of histamine in our bodies goes above that threshold, we experience symptoms. They are the symptoms that us hay fever sufferers know all too well – itchy eyes, watery eyes, sneezing, runny nose, etc.
Histamine in the Body
Where do the histamines in our bodies come from? They are released as a part of the allergic response. In the case of hay fever, they are released in response to breathing in that pollen. That’s why hay fever medications are called anti-histamines. Our gut bacteria also naturally produce histamine.
A number of foods contain histamine. When we eat these foods, the histamine enters our bodies.
The trick to getting rid of the symptoms of high histamine (i.e. hay fever symptoms) is to get the level of histamine in our body back below our threshold. Trees and grasses will produce pollen for as long as they are programmed by nature to do so – there’s nothing you can do about that. Even healthy gut bacteria produce histamine so there’s nothing that you can do about that.
Which leaves you with one factor that you have the ability to change – how much histamine-containing foods you eat. Let me be clear, this isn’t like a food allergy where you need to remove 100% of histamine from food. You don’t need to avoid all of these foods. But you can reduce the amount of these foods that you eat when your hay fever is acting up.
Food and Histamine
These foods contain histamine:
- Alcohol and non-alcohol versions of alcoholic drinks (e.g. near-beer)
- Coffee and tea
- Vinegar and foods made with vinegar (e.g. pickles)
- Chocolate, cocoa, cola
- Fermented vegetables and soy (e.g. sauerkraut, soy sauce)
- Processed meats/ charcuterie
- Fish and shellfish – unless you cook them immediately after catching/harvesting them
- Red beans
- Soy beans
- Pumpkin/ squash
- Citrus fruit
- Strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, cranberries
- Many dried fruits such as dates, raisins, prunes
- Some spices such as cinnamon, chili powder, nutmeg
Photo credit: Igor Ovsyannykov on Unsplash