The role of histamine intolerance in women's health
The role of histamine intolerance in women's health can't be under estimated. In my clinic I meet many women with undiagnosed histamine intolerance, who suffer with intense symptoms around ovulation and just before their period.
Reflux, bloating, indigestion
What is histamine intolerance?
Most of us are familiar with histamine triggering sneezing, coughing, watery eyes and itchiness when we come into contact with pollens or animals. The immune response is to try to expel the allergen from our respiratory system.
When our immune system is triggered, histamine is released from mast cells and travels through the blood stream.
Histamine intolerance occurs when there is a build up of histamines in the blood stream and the body is no longer able to break it all down sufficiently.
Common foods containing or triggering histamine:
aged foods e.g. aged cheeses and leftovers
fermented foods e.g. wine, miso and kombucha
ripe foods e.g. avocado and banana
products made from tomatoes
some fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds
Common symptoms that may be caused by histamine:
Brain fog, sleepiness, insomnia, anxiety, depression, dizziness, vertigo, irritability
Menstrual changes, fluid retention, PMS with mood changes, migraines with a period
Heart palpitations, hypertension, racing heart, arrhythmia's, joint pain
Nasal congestion, sinus congestion, sneezing, runny nose, difficulty breathing
Abdominal pain after eating, reflux, gluten sensitivity, bowel changes
It is important to understand that all of these symptoms could be caused by something other than histamine intolerance.
If you regularly experience several of these symptoms, then I would suspect you have a histamine intolerance.
Estrogen and histamine intolerance
Histamine intolerance is more often experienced by women than men.
One of the clues that you have histamine intolerance is that your symptoms of anxiety, migraines or digestive issues are worse before a period, just before ovulation, or during perimenopause.
These are times in your cycle and in your life that relatively higher levels of estrogen naturally occur. It's the high estrogen levels that trigger histamine symptoms.
If you suspect that your symptoms are triggered by histamine, then please keep a track of when they occur to see if they line up with your menstrual cycle.
I meet many women whose otherwise healthy diets contain high histamine foods at every meal.
Treating histamine intolerance
The most reliable test is an elimination diet to remove high histamine foods from your diet from 1 to 4 weeks, and especially leading up to the times when you are expecting to experience symptoms.
It is usually possible to notice an improvement after only one week if histamine intolerance is present. If symptoms improve, then these foods should be avoided for a longer period before careful reintroduction.
Histamine intolerance is usually an underlying symptom of a deeper issue related to your digestive health. It is important to address the root cause of the histamine intolerance so that you reintroduce these foods to your diet and lifestyle.
Histamine intolerance might be the result of:
~ diet choices
~ high levels of stress
~ imbalances in gut bacteria (gut dysbiosis)
~ enzyme deficiencies
~ leaky gut
~ high estrogen levels
Take action now
Start tracking your menstrual cycle, trial a low histamine diet and get some help to heal underlying digestive imbalances so that you no longer have to struggle with symptoms.