When I realized I might have a histamine intolerance, I began to look for information on that subject. I first turned to the book Dealing with Food Allergies by Janice Joneja PhD, RDN. I then bought two other publications: (1) Is Food Making You Sick? –The Strictly Low Histamine Diet and the RPAH Elimination Diet Handbook.
I also looked online and found:
- A Histamine Food Compatibility List by the Swiss Interest Group Histamine Intolerance (SIGHI)
- AHA Histamine Intolerance webpage
- The Allergy UK.org Histamine Intolerance webpage
- The Baliza App for Histamine
There are other Histamine Intolerance resources listed on the Resources page of my blog which I have found helpful.
What I found, when looking at the various food lists, is that they have similarities and differences. Pretty much all of the lists exclude fermented dairy products and vegetables, cured and processed meats, avocados, eggplant and tomatoes.
Dr. Jonja’s list in her book also excludes foods that are high in benzoates and sulphites. As it turns out, this was helpful to me because when I challenged low histamine foods such as cherries and berries, and got a headache, I knew it was probably benzoate related since benzoates can release histamine in some people.
The RAPH Elimination Diet Handbook identifies which foods are low, moderate, high or very high in salicylates, amines and glutamates.
The SIGHI list identifies which foods might give someone no symptoms–ranked as “0”, minor symptoms “1”, significant symptoms “2” or severe symptoms “3”. They also identify which foods might liberate histamine, which foods can form histamine quickly if not stored properly, and which foods contain other amines.
The lists don’t always agree with each other. For example, the SIGHI list identifies pear as a “1” and containing other amines. The AHA list also puts pears in the “other biogenic amines” list. But the RPAH list does not list pears as containing amines. (Pears did give me a headache when I tested them, so I tend to believe they are high in other biogenic amines that are troublesome to me.)
In his book, Is Food Making You Sick? Mr. Gibbs looked at three different low histamine food lists: Dr. Joneja’s, SIGHI, and the Allergy UK list. He then compiled a list of foods that all three sources said were acceptable and of which there was no debate. This was for the purpose of making a list of foods that was as safe as possible. In a nutshell all meat, poultry, seafood, legumes, nuts, and seeds were excluded, along with all high histamine foods. I write more about this book in an earlier blog post Two Food Intolerance Books Worth a Look. His book was helpful (along with the SIGHI list) because it clarified why all animal meats (except very fresh fish) were giving me headaches….likely due to histamine.
I have found, for me, that looking at all the lists and reading as much as I can about histamine intolerance has been helpful. At least I can now identify which foods are likely to give me a problem.
Histamine isn’t my only intolerance, however. But it is a major one since it includes so many foods. Someday I hope to figure out my entire food intolerance problem. In the meantime, I hope you find this information helpful. 🙂
Updated October 17, 2015: The SIGHI Histamine Elimination diet was updated 10/16/15 and can be found at this link.