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Histamine Intolerance - What You Need To Know

Did you ever wonder why, after a night of celebrating - perhaps you ate out at a decadent restaurant and the wine was flowing nonstop - why is it that you feel like garbage the next day? You might see swelling in your face that isn't something you’re used to. Or your body's overall attitude is a giant "Nope!".

It's possible that you consumed a hefty amount of high-histamine foods. As a result, your body is throwing a fit.

Just because your throat doesn't swell at an alarming rate, doesn't mean that you're void of food allergies or intolerances. In fact, feeling crummy after eating certain foods could be an indication that you have developed a histamine intolerance.

Glasses of red wine and crumbled chocolate

Histamine intolerance? Allow us to explain.

When we hear the word histamine, most of us think of the itchy feeling we get from pollen and other airborne uglies. Runny noses, watery eyes. What is widely unknown is that foods can have a high amount of histamine that affects our bodies like common seasonal allergies.

Histamine is a chemical released by your white blood cells that promotes certain critical functions within your body.

This includes communicating signals to the brain, the release of stomach acid to aid with digestion, and an immune response to injury or allergic reaction. This is a naturally occurring substance inside your body and walks alongside its enzyme partner, diamine oxidase. More commonly referred to as DAO, this enzyme is responsible for the breaking down of the histamine you consume through foods.

If your body has high histamine levels the chemical can’t break down easily and can have a wide variety of effects on your bodily functions.

Causes & Symptoms

When your histamine levels are too high or DAO levels are insufficient in breaking down the histamine in your body, you could develop a histamine intolerance. This could happen due to a number of reasons including:

  • Foods high in histamine
  • Foods that trigger histamine release
  • Foods that block or disable DAO enzymes
  • Certain medications that either prevent DAO production or its function

Additionally, bacterial overgrowth prompted by improperly digested food causes histamine overproduction. We already know that normal DAO levels cannot break down high levels of histamine. This remaining food in your digestive tract means that you can be left with extra histamine in your system, creating an intolerance.

If you have Celiac disease or Irritable Bowel Syndrome, you could be more vulnerable to developing an histamine intolerance as well.


  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Digestive issues
  • Sinus infections
  • Nasal congestion
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting


  • Dizziness
  • Abdominal pain/cramping
  • Inflammation
  • High blood pressure
  • Anxiety
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Difficulty regulating body temperature

Nutrition Solutions - What to Consider

One study on a histamine-free diet conducted on 100 patients with food intolerances required them to avoid certain high-histamine foods for four weeks. Fifty-seven percent showed major improvement and fifteen of those reported total remission. Eighty percent saw improvement in their asthma symptoms. Sixty-four percent felt improvement in headaches. When patients returned to a high-histamine diet, fifty percent of affected eczema patients saw a recurrence.

When you and your doctor have determined that your symptoms are indeed due to histamine intolerance, they might put you on an elimination diet to remove any possible food triggers. Then you’ll slowly reintroduce each food to weed out which ones are causing you trouble. To learn more about what to expect on an elimination diet, click here.

Assorted cheeses and cherry tomatoes

The quantity of histamine within certain foods varies greatly, and the degree to which each person is affected is different. A good rule to follow is to avoid anything that is aged, fermented, or processed. We have compiled a list of both histamine triggering foods, as well as DAO inhibiting foods.

Histamine-triggering Foods:

  • Alcohol
  • Eggplant
  • Tomatoes
  • Spinach
  • Pickled or canned foods – sauerkrauts
  • Ready meals
  • Matured cheeses
  • Smoked meat products
  • Shellfish
  • Legumes
  • Stale nuts, especially walnuts and peanuts
  • Chocolates and other cocoa based products
  • Wheat germ
  • Yeast extract
  • Most vinegars
  • Additives – benzoate, sulphites, nitrites, glutamate, food dyes
  • Processed snacks with preservatives and artificial colors
  • Citrus
  • Bananas
  • Papaya
  • Plumbs

DAO-inhibiting Foods:

  • Alcohol
  • Black tea
  • Energy drinks
  • Mate tea

Fresh pasta noodles and dairy milk

Contrary to high-histamine foods, low-histamine foods are fresh and have no additives.

  • Fresh meat
  • Fresh fish such as trout, hake, and plaice
  • Eggs
  • Fresh fruits – except those listed above
  • Fresh vegetables – except those listed above
  • Grains including rice noodles, rye bread, oats, rice crackers, pasta
  • Fresh, pasteurized milk
  • Other milks such as goat milk, sheep milk
  • Fresh cream cheese, mozzarella, butter
  • Most oils
  • Most herbs - fresh
  • Most fruit juices free of citrus fruits
  • Herbal teas – except those listed above

Read the Label

Not obsessively. But being wary of what you’re putting into your body is the best way to ensure that it will respond positively and keep you feeling in tip-top shape. This is why all of our products at OWL are free of common allergens, and why we provide the nutrition label for you to read so that you can make the best decision for your body. No one likes a food hangover, especially one that lowers your quality of life for a few days. The long-term effects could be even more unpleasant. The type of fuel you put in will directly affect the quality of performance your body will put out.

Nourish it. Love it. Enjoy it.

Julie Weller

Julie is a self-made writer on a forever journey of fitness and health. As a high school music teacher, she has seen and experienced the challenges of maintaining good health while simultaneously balancing a career and healthy relationships.

Julie has always lived a healthy and active lifestyle. She loves the outdoors, hiking, and camping. Over the years she has continued to learn smarter and better ways to take care of her body while continuing to do the things that make her smile. Naturally, all of her teacher friends wanted to know how she did it - what was her secret?

Julie found herself explaining over and over everything she'd learned in her research, and sharing her experiences through trial and error. Her friends would take her advice, try some new things, and then come back to ask how to take it to the next level.

"You should charge for this kind of information!" Became a constant phrase, and so began her career of writing to share her knowledge with the world through health and wellness companies looking to spread healing and healthy habits within their communities. Now Julie gets to combine two of the things she enjoys most - writing and wellness - and use them to affect change in a real way.

When not making music with her kiddos, or writing wellness tips for a higher quality of life, you can find her reading, hiking, drumming, and fitnessing