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Histamine is a compound known for its role in the immune response of the body to foreign proteins, specifically the allergic response, which can trigger a cascade of inflammatory reactions. Histamine is produced by the white blood cells of our body called mast cells, but is also present naturally in many foods. The amount of histamine in foods may be inherent to the food or depend on external factors such as the stage of ripening and its’ storage, processing method and origin. On a daily basis, small amounts of histamine help regulate functions throughout the body. Hypotheses suggest that histamine intolerance may be caused by a lack of enzymes or increased production of endogenous histamine, but the exact cause remains unknown. If histamine levels in the body are elevated for any reason, eating foods rich in histamine can trigger various symptoms that can vary from person to person. People may have digestive symptoms (stomach aches, bloating, diarrhea, reflux) but also other types of symptoms such as a tightness in the throat or chest, heart palpitations, headaches, dizziness, fatigue, hot flashes, hives, itching or food allergies. Generally, symptoms can occur immediately after eating a trigger food or later (about two to four hours after). Sometimes, the symptoms may vary according to the seasons of the year. Foods high in histamine include tomatoes, spinach, avocados, strawberries, cherries, aged cheeses, cold cuts, fermented foods, wine, beer, meat, poultry and fish as well as certain spices. If you suspect that you have a histamine intolerance, you should consult a medical specialist (gastroenterologist or allergist) and a Registered Dietitian who is specialized in gastrointestinal health.
Bile acid malabsorption is the cause of several gastrointestinal problems, the main one being chronic diarrhea. This condition may occur as a secondary effect to the removal of the gallbladder (in approximately 9% of cases), SIBO, certain diseases (Crohn’s disease, chronic pancreatitis, bowel resections) or taking certain drugs such as Metformin (a diabetic medicine). Possible symptoms include gas, an urgency to defecate (including at night), light-colored diarrhea, vitamin B12 deficiency, and unexplained weight loss. Diarrhea can occur more severely several hours after eating a high-fat meal, and symptoms usually worsen if people decide to follow a ketogenic diet. Up to 25% of people diagnosed with IBS featuring diarrhea (IBS-D) suffer instead from a bile acid malabsorption. Treatment for this condition involves taking a medicine (a bile acid sequestrant) that usually works very quickly (about three days after the start of its use).
Certain people may be intolerant to type A2 beta-casein, which is a variant of a type of protein found in cow’s milk. In this case, symptoms usually occur fairy rapidly following the ingestion of dairy products and may include diarrhea, constipation, gas, bloating, or severe abdominal cramps. For more information, read this article.
In conclusion, it is important that you determine the precise cause of your digestive symptoms in order to find the appropriate solution to correct them. If you need help determining the cause of your symptoms, do not hesitate to consult with a Registered Dietitian specialized in gastrointestinal health.