Do allergies cause invisible illnesses?

One of the many causes of invisible illnesses is a histamine response.

Do you have unexplained headaches? Do you end up with a flushed face when you drink red wine? Or an itchy tongue or runny nose when you eat bananas, avocados or eggplants? Do you end up with an itchy sensation all over or patches of hives but you can’t pinpoint what’s going on?

If you do, perhaps you’re dealing with histamine intolerance. Look at this lengthy list of common symptoms of this invisible illness!

  • Headaches & Migraines
  • Difficulty Falling Asleep
  • Hypertension
  • Vertigo & Dizziness
  • Difficulty Regulating Body Temperature
  • Anxiety
  • Nausea & Vomiting
  • Abdominal Cramps
  • Facial Flushing
  • Nasal Congestion & Difficulty Breathing
  • Irregular Menstrual Cycle
  • Hives
  • Fatigue
  • Tissue Swelling
  • Easily Hungover After Alcohol Use

Because histamine is a neurotransmitter, an intolerance can drastically affect a person mentally, physically and emotionally, making it an invisible illness that feels impossible to pinpoint.

In addition to the histamine your body produces, there are also many foods that naturally contain histamine or cause your body to release more histamine. There are also foods that can block the enzyme the body uses to break down histamine: Diamine Oxidase, or DAO.

If you’re already low in DAO, you will most likely exhibit symptoms of histamine intolerance. But, again, it’s an invisible illness that can be misdiagnosed!

Look at what can cause low DAO:

  • Gluten Sensitivity (did you know you can become sensitive to gluten or even develop Celiacs Disease at any age?)
  • Leaky Gut (if your intestines aren’t healthy, they’ll let anything into your blood stream, which affects your entire body!)
  • Bacterial Overgrowth
  • Medications (ibuprofen/aspirin, antidepressants, histamine blockers, antiarrhythmics)

If you’re not dealing with low DAO, you might still be dealing with histamine intolerance which can be easily aggravated by some of the foods you’re consuming.

But how can we know for sure? At FNPC, Dr. Hulsey can run a series of blood tests that will help pinpoint what you’re reacting to and what, exactly, is going on with your body.

Sometimes it’s overwhelming and not enough just to know what you’re reacting to, which is why FNPC staff also takes the time to educate and coach his patients on what to include in their diets and what to drop—either temporarily or permanently. Sometimes your body just needs some time to heal the gut to be able to break down and handle some of the foods you’re reacting to.

The list of foods affecting you might seem like too much to eliminate. So let us help you take that into consideration. We’ve included lists of the foods that are considered histamine-rich, histamine releasing or DAO blocking. But don’t let these lists keep you from getting to the bottom of your symptoms! Again, Dr. Hulsey can help guide you through that process and get you feeling better!

Some foods with a higher histamine level are considered “Histamine-Rich Foods” and can include:

  • Fermented Alcoholic Beverages (especially wine, champagne and beer)
  • Fermented Foods (especially vinegar, soy sauce, kefir, yogurt and kombucha)
  • Vinegar Containing Foods (pickles, mayonnaise, olives)
  • Cured Meats (Bacon, pepperoni, lunch meats, hot dogs, salami)
  • Soured Foods (sour cream, buttermilk)
  • Dried Fruit (apricots, raisins, dates)
  • Most Citrus Fruits (Strawberries, Oranges, Grape Fruits)
  • Tomatoes
  • Aged Cheeses
  • Nuts (Walnuts, cashews, peanuts, almonds)
  • Some Vegetables (Avocados, eggplant, spinach)
  • Some Fish (mahi-mahi, anchovies, tuna, sardines)

Some foods that don’t necessarily contain their own histamine but cause your body to release higher levels of histamine can include:

  • Alcohol (in any form)
  • Chocolate
  • Cow’s Milk
  • Papaya
  • Pineapple
  • Shellfish
  • Wheat Germ
  • Artificial Preservatives and Dyes

And then there are the foods that may not have histamine or cause the body to release more histamine, but they still aren’t doing us any favors because they block the enzyme we need to break down the histamine!

Alcohol (notice this not only has its own histamine, but also causes the body to release MORE histamine and then blocks the body from breaking down all that histamine! YIKES!):

  • Energy Drinks
  • Black Tea
  • Green Tea

Now that it seems like we have listed almost everything you might consider a healthy diet, let’s make a list of low-histamine foods:

  • Freshly cooked meat, poultry
  • Freshly caught fish
  • Eggs
  • Gluten-Free Grains: Rice & Quinoa
  • Fresh Fruit: Mango, Pear, Watermelon, Apple, Kiwi, Cantaloupe, Grapes
  • Fresh Vegetables: except spinach, eggplant and avocado
  • Dairy Substitutes: Coconut Milk, Rice Milk, Hemp Milk
  • Cooking Oils: Olive Oil or Coconut Oil
  • Leafy Herbs
  • Herbal Teas