Histamine Intolerance is a nitrogen compound, which is produced from histidine.
This molecule is involved in digestive mechanisms, the immune system, and as a neurotransmitter.
It functions as a widely distributed “chemical mediator” in the human body, particularly at the level of the immune system, where excessive release plays a key role in inflammation and allergic diseases.
Most of histamine is stored at the level of mast cells and basophil granulocytes, but it is also found in good concentrations at the level of the central nervous system and on the mucosa of the gastrointestinal tract.
In addition to being produced endogenously, it is present in many foods and after being ingested it is quickly degraded by diaminoxidase (DAO), an enzyme found in the small intestine, in order to avoid its absorption. This mechanism does not work properly in people with histamine intolerance, where the DAO enzyme is not present in sufficient quantities. As a consequence, excess histamine spills into the blood causing intolerance with the appearance of symptoms that can easily be mistaken for allergic reactions (gastroenteric disorders, migraine, hives, itching, dermatitis, asthma, breathing difficulties, nausea, palpitations, dizziness, mucous irritation, etc…).
Histamine carries out its action by binding to specific receptors located on the cell membrane, with different effects depending on the site and the type of receptor with which it interacts. Currently, four types of histamine receptors are known, defined respectively as H1 (in cells of the endothelium, muscle, adrenal, heart and central nervous system), H2 (in cells of the gastric wall, smooth muscle, heart and central nervous system), H3 (in intestinal enterocromaffin cells, in cells of the central nervous system and peripheral nerves) and H4 (in cells of the bone marrow, spleen and white blood cells) (Table 1).
Since there are so many and so disabling symptoms from histamine intolerance, in some situations a histamine-free diet without foods rich in histamine or histaminoliberators (able to determine the release of histamine) could be a solution to propose.
Below is the list of foods rich in histamine intolerance and histamine-releasers.
FOODS RICH IN HISTAMINE
Fermented and aged cheeses
Preserved fish (tuna, herring, anchovies, sardines, botargo, caviar)
Fresh fish (tuna, sardines, anchovies, salmon, shellfish)
“Mackerel (Mackerel Syndrome)
Pork and beef sausages
Spinach, tomatoes, potatoes, cauliflower, cabbage, eggplant
Grapes, citrus fruits, avocados, bananas, raspberries
Wine, beer and sparkling wine
Dried fruits and chestnuts
Strawberries, citrus fruits, cranberry, kiwi, papaya and pineapple
Shellfish and crustaceans
Food preservatives (e.g. benzoates)
ALSO BEWARE OF FACTORS THAT INCREASE HISTAMINE ABSORPTION:
Drugs such as salicylic and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, chemical purgatives, antibiotics; starchy diet such as beans, peas, chestnuts; foods containing nitrites, such as foods
preserved foods and sausages; irritating foods such as spices, alcohol, and coffee.