When you hear the word histamine, do you instantly think of seasonal allergies? Like those sneezes that inevitably come with spring when the pollen count is so high that your eyes are itchy and your nose is running. You aren’t wrong to think of allergies when you hear “histamine” — but I also want to let you in on how histamines play a role in your food, too.
Histamines are found in foods, with fermented foods among those with the highest in histamine content. Things like vinegar, yogurt, kimchi, soy products, canned foods, aged cheeses, processed meats, legumes, and alcohol all have the highest histamines. For most people, your body produces DAO, an enzyme that breaks down any excess histamine. Some don’t produce enough DAO to fully break down excess histamine in foods, which can lead to allergy-like symptoms.
– Those with gut health issues
If your gut function isn’t up to speed, it can impact the production of the DAO enzymes and won’t break down histamine properly. If you have celiac, Crohn’s, IBS, or other digestive issues, you may have reactions to histamines in the foods you eat.
– Having a DAO deficiency
Sometimes it’s genetics, while other times, it’s medications that can contribute to a lack of DAO enzymes. Therefore, it’s not always something we can control, but being aware of it is helpful. Diamine oxidase (DAO) is the major enzyme involved in our body’s histamine metabolism. Whenever a DAO deficiency is present, the result is excess histamine in our system.