What’s the deal with cashews and histamine?

cashews and histamineCashews and Histamine

Cashews. They’re delicious, nutritious and versatile. But can they be eaten by people with histamine intolerance (HIT)?

Opinions are divided. One blogger, who says she is a “holistic health coach”, actively encourages people with HIT to eat cashews. On the other hand, Dr. Amy Myers, writing for Mindbodygreen, lists cashews under “Histamine-Rich Foods”, as does the website for Histamine Intolerance Awareness UK.

Histamine intolerance specialist Dr Janice Joneja says: “Unless the person is allergic to them, the following are generally safe on the histamine-restricted diet as long as they are free from any additional ingredients – Pure nuts and seeds, which includes sunflower seeds, cashew nuts and coconut and their derivatives such as coconut or cashew milk. The only seeds restricted are pumpkin seeds.”

Other histamine experts insist that coconut and all nuts and seeds should be avoided. Indeed, the world of histamine intolerance can be confusing!

Which is exactly why “Is Food Making You Sick” is all about the “STRICTLY Low Histamine Diet”. According to the old saying, “It is better to be safe than sorry”, this book lists as “safe” only the foods upon which all reputable authorities agree. Not everyone agrees that cashews can be included in a low histamine diet so we recommend that people with HIT should avoid them.

Of course, the low histamine diet is not a life-long diet. It is a diet to lower your histamine to safe levels. When you’ve been on the diet for long enough to feel better, you can gradually and slowly re-introduce small quantities of additive-free cashews (or other histamine-rich foods) into your diet, while carefully monitoring your health.

Wishing you health and happiness!

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Low-histamine foods are science-based

The List of Low-histamine Foods is Scientifically Researched.

Maybe you’re on a low-carb diet. Maybe you’re on a sugar-free diet, or an anti-inflammatory diet, or a fruitarian diet, or some other popular eating regime. That is your choice, but if you are histamine intolerant, your symptoms are not likely to subside unless you choose low-histamine foods and avoid foods (and external factors such as stress and pollution) that raise your body’s histamine levels.

Some popular diets are negotiable. Take the Paleo diet, for example – there is debate about whether Stone Age humans ate grains. Paleontologists have found traces of grains on ancient stone cooking tools dating back 105,000 years.

[Science. 2009 Dec 18;326(5960):1680-3. doi: 10.1126/science.1173966. Mozambican grass seed consumption during the Middle Stone Age. Mercader J1.]

Some people say that grains can be eaten on a Paleo Diet, while others insist that grains are forbidden. In other words, the foods included in this diet can be considered “negotiable”.

The foods in a gluten-free diet, on the other hand, are non-negotiable. Either there’s gluten in the food or there isn’t. Your body  certainly knows the difference! Scientists have tested foods to reveal their gluten content.

Don’t mix your diets!

The same applies to low-histamine foods. For his book “Is Food Making You Sick?” James L Gibb did not “invent” the low-histamine food list. The foods on the list have been selected because they have been scientifically proven to be low in histamine or low in factors that cause histamine release. These foods do not necessarily conform to the pattern of other diets. However this is due to sheer necessity!

As one Amazon commenter said in reply to a reviewer who complained about the book’s food list:

“Go ahead and follow your “anti-inflammatory” diet but it’s not the same as a low histamine diet. Choose which diet you need to follow, you can’t be on both. If you’re not histamine intolerant, then don’t follow a low histamine diet. The low histamine foods in the book were not selected on the basis of the latest food fads and crazes. They were selected on the scientific basis of how they affect people’s histamine levels. This is a fixed property of foods and cannot be changed according to people’s whims. Just because you don’t like to eat a certain food does not mean it is not low in histamine.”

Of course you can select your favorite foods from within the low-histamine food list, although we do encourage you to eat as wide a range of foods as possible from within the list, to maximize nutrition. If the range of foods seems very different from whatever diet you’ve previously been following, maybe that’s the reason why your symptoms are continuing. The Strictly Low Histamine Diet does not necessarily resemble any other diet. People who are NOT histamine-intolerant can go ahead and choose some popular diet craze to follow, but many of us do not have that luxury. As soon as our histamine levels rise, we suffer.

As mentioned before in this blog, following too many diets at the same time is not a good idea. It can overly-restrict your food choices. Find out if you’re histamine-intolerant (it’s easy to do, as the book describes). If you are, then there’s an excellent chance that going low-histamine will help you return to good health.

Bon appetit!

 

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Stress and Histamine Part 3

Oriental disciplines can relieve stressOriental disciplines can relieve stress

Oriental physical, mental, and spiritual disciplines such as yoga, t’ai chi, and qigong, which combine exercise with meditation and mindfulness, can trigger the release of beneficial hormones and other body-chemicals. Reducing stress can help people with histamine intolerance.

Evidence shows that such oriental disciplines can lower cortisol levels and encourage cell-healing. In fact, studies have found that when used to supplement traditional forms of treatment, regular practice of such techniques can:

  • reduce stress levels
  • combat depression
  • improve the quality of sleep
  • keep the body flexible
  • improve the sense of balance
  • help maintain bone density
  • decrease the pain of arthritis
  • improve heart health
  • reduce hypertension

Yoga

Yoga is a group of physical, mental and spiritual disciplines that began in ancient India. There is a broad variety of Yoga schools, practices, and goals.
Types of yoga include Hatha, Vinyasa, Iyengar, Ashtanga, Bikram,  Kundalini and Yin. “How to Do Yoga for Absolute Beginners” can be found here.

T‘ai-chi

T‘ai-chi is a Chinese discipline. Though originally conceived as a martial art and used for defense training, it is frequently practiced for a variety of health reasons. It has become popular worldwide. Most modern styles of t‘ai-chi trace their origins back to one or other of the five traditional schools: Chen, Yang, Wu (Hao), Wu, and Sun.
“How to do Tai Chi” can be found here.

Qigong

“Qigong is a holistic system of coordinated body posture and movement, breathing, and meditation used for health, spirituality, and martial arts training. With roots in Chinese medicine, philosophy, and martial arts, qigong is traditionally viewed as a practice to cultivate and balance qi (chi), translated as ‘life energy’.[Cohen, 1999]

“Qigong practice typically involves moving meditation, coordinating slow flowing movement, deep rhythmic breathing, and calm meditative state of mind. Qigong is now practiced throughout China and worldwide for recreation, exercise and relaxation, preventive medicine and self-healing, alternative medicine, meditation and self-cultivation, and training for martial arts.”How to Practice Qigong” here.
[Wikipedia]

You don’t need expensive equipment or even expensive classes to practice these methods. Classes are recommended, because of the social benefit of exercising in groups, and the value of a good teacher. However if you’re really hard up and cannot afford classes, once you have learned some moves from books or YouTube, you can practice yoga, t’ai chi, or qigong for free at home.


Reference:
Cohen, K. S. (1999). The Way of Qigong: The Art and Science of Chinese Energy Healing. Random House of Canada. ISBN 0-345-42109-4.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Stress and Histamine: Part 2

dealing with stressful situationsDealing with Stressful Situations

As discussed in the last post, stress is associated with histamine. Minimizing your experience of stress can help to curb your histamine intolerance symptoms.

The team at University of Southern California [“Stress Management” Be Well at USC.] says, “There are many healthy ways to manage and cope with stress, but they all require change. You can either change the situation or change your reaction. When deciding which option to choose, it’s helpful to think of the four “A”s: avoid, alter, adapt, or accept.”
You can change the stressful situation by avoiding it or altering it. Or you can change your reaction to the stressful situation by adapting to it or accepting it.

Dealing with Stressful Situations: The Four “A”s:

Change the situation:
* Avoid the stressor:  E.g. Learn how to say “no”;  avoid people who stress you out; take control of your environment; avoid conversational topics that lead to heated arguments; pare down your to-do list; quit your stressful job; get out of your stressful relationship. Changing your situation may not be easy, but if you want major changes in your life you may have to take big leaps of faith. If you’re not prepared to take those big leaps you may have to be satisfied with smaller changes.
* Alter the stressor: E.g. Express your feelings instead of bottling them up; be willing to compromise;  be more assertive;  manage your time better.

Change your reaction:
* Adapt to the stressor: E.g. Reframe problems; look at the big picture; adjust your standards; focus on the positive; change your attitude.
* Accept the stressor: E.g. Accept the things you can’t change; don’t try to control the uncontrollable; look for the positive side; share your feelings with people you trust; learn to forgive.

Each of us has our own way of responding to stress, which means that what works for one person may not work for another. It is worthwhile trying out a range of stress-management strategies. Pay particular attention to the techniques that enable you to feel composed, serene and in control.

In addition to taking control and having a positive attitude, one of the best things you can do to reduce stress is to nurture yourself, body and mind.

You can learn more about stress management on the University of Southern California’s website.

Looking after yourself is a necessity, not a luxury – especially for people with histamine intolerance. Set aside some time each day to really nurture yourself and do something enjoyable and relaxing.

We’ll be offering more stress management strategies in the next post. See you then!

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Stress and Histamine: Part 1

stress and histamineStress and Histamine

“When you’re all stressed out, your body releases hormones and other chemicals, including histamine, the powerful chemical that leads to allergy symptoms. While stress doesn’t actually cause allergies, it can make an allergic reaction worse by increasing the histamine in your bloodstream.”
Stress Relief Strategies to Ease Allergy Symptoms – WebMD

This is the first in our series of posts giving you strategies for dealing with stress.

Life comes with its own built-in stressors. We can try to avoid stressful situations, but:

  • It’s impossible to completely avoid all stress.
  • We actually need small amounts of stress now and then. A little bit of stress, for a short time, can be inspiring and motivating. It’s long-term, chronic stress that can cause health problems.

It’s not so much the stressfulness of a situation that determines how stressed an individual person will feel. It’s that person’s reaction to the situation. For example, two people could find themselves in identical situations, and one might react calmly while the other one panics.

Stress management – the first steps

Stressful situations will always come and go in our lives. There’s not much you can do to stop them happening, but there is a lot you can do to minimize stress and its effects.

Step 1:

Recognize that you are in  control of your own  emotions, thoughts, routines, and responses to stress. Studies show that simply knowing we have some control over our own lives is a major factor in minimizing the effects of stress!

Step 2:

Figure out what is causing the stress in your life.
We’re not always conscious of the real sources of stress. Many people suffer from low-level stress without really knowing why. Sometimes we think we know the reasons, but if we look closer, there may be other causes involved. Thoughts and feelings play a major role.
For example, maybe you feel you are rushed off your feet every day, and you have too much to do. You might blame a heavy work-load for your feelings of stress. But perhaps you are expecting too much of yourself – setting impossibly high standards for the amount of work you think you should get through. Allow yourself to be less of a perfectionist. Permit yourself to take a break and relax from time to time. Simply changing your expectations to make them more realistic could decrease your stress levels.
The point is, you might be blaming external forces for your stress, when in fact your own inner thoughts and feelings are largely contributing to it. If you go on telling yourself that all your stress is due to external factors beyond your control, you will always feel helpless. Work out how much of your stress is due to external factors such as your environment, or your health, or the people around you, and how much of your stress is your own responsibility. The great thing about being responsible for some of your own stress is that it means you can do something about it! You can control it!

In an article called “Stress Management”, the University of Southern California recommends keeping a simple daily “Stress Journal” so that you can  make a list of all the things that stress you out from day to day, and how you responded to them.
[“Stress Management” Be Well at USC. University of Southern California. ]
This is a good way to understand whether your stress responses are useful or counterproductive. For example, do you react to relationship problems by over-eating, smoking or  drinking? Or by talking to friends or counselors?

Step 3:

Work out how to deal with the sources of stress in your life.
If your stress journal shows a pattern of unhealthy, unproductive ways you react to stress, then swap them for better responses.

In our next post we will give you some helpful, proven strategies for doing this.

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Apples and Onions

Apples & Onions

… with natural antihistamines?

Quercetin, a compound found in many plants, is a flavonoid and an antioxidant with many valuable properties. It’s readily available in natural foods, especially apples and onions.

  • Quercetin is an antioxidant, and may promote good health by decreasing or even helping to prevent some of the damage free radicals do to our bodies.
  • It may help guard against heart disease and cancer.
  • It is thought to have anti-inflammatory properties.
  • In addition, quercetin may have an antihistamine effect by aiding in the stabilization of histamine-releasing cells in our bodies.

In laboratory tests, quercetin stops immune cells from releasing histamine. If this mechanism also works in living humans, then quercetin would be a valuable aid in reducing symptoms of allergies such as –

  • itchy skin
  • runny nose
  • watery eyes
  • hives
  • sneezing
  • wheezing, shortness of breath

Quercetin can be bought in the form of a dietary supplement (capsules, pills etc.).  In the form of supplements it is generally considered safe, however the University of Maryland cautions people against taking more than the recommended dose. It is possible to harm your health by overdosing on quercetin supplements, but it’s unlikely you could eat enough apples or onions to cause any problems!

You can eat apples and onions raw or cooked – you’ll still get the benefits of quercetin. Cooking can change the levels of quercetin in foods, but not enough to worry about. For example, in a study on onions,  “Baking and sautéing produced a 7–25% gain in quercetin concentration, while boiling produced an 18% decrease in quercetin concentration.”

So grab an apple now, or slice up an onion for a salad, and enjoy crunching on a nutritious fruit or vegetable that may help reduce your histamine intolerance symptoms!


References:

[Journal of Food Composition and Analysis, Volume 18, Issue 6, September 2005, Pages 571–581 Quercetin in onion (Allium cepa L.) after heat-treatment simulating home preparation. Kevin Lombard, Ellen Peffley, Emanuel Geoffriau, Leslie Thompson, Andy Herring. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jfca.2004.03.027]

 

 

 

 

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Sugar and a Low Histamine Diet

sugar in a low histamine dietSugary or Sugar-free?

“SUGAR IS THE NEW FAT!”

This is the latest slogan popular in the wonderful and sometimes weird (not to mention confusing) world of food fads and fashions.

Fat used to be “bad” and then it  became “good”. Carbohydrates used to be “good” until they did a 180 degree turn and became viewed as “bad”. Evil, fattening coconuts were completely out of the question for dieters until they too turned to the Good Side, gaining a halo and angel wings. Hardly anybody used to even know what gluten was until it, too, joined the ranks of the Foods of Darkness. Wine keeps switching sides, so that it’s sometimes hard to know what to believe.

Not only can food fashions be confusing, they can also be dangerous. “Orthorexia” is defined as “an obsession with eating foods that one considers healthy,” and “a medical condition in which the sufferer systematically avoids specific foods that they believe to be harmful.” {Google definitions]

The danger with following too many food-exclusion diets simultaneously, is that people can become orthorexic.

Recently a reader wrote to us saying that the recipes in “Is Food Making You Sick?” contained too much sugar for their liking.

The book is about Histamine Intolerance. It is not about a sugar free diet. It is not about a low-carb, gluten-free, low-FODMAP, lactose-free, vegan, vegetarian, fruitarian, specific carbohydrate, ketogenic, diabetic, detox, low-fat or any other kind of diet.

It is virtually impossible to cater for the entire range of popular diets, all in one book whose purpose is to focus on histamine intolerance. We have done our best, however! Many of our recipes are gluten-free, dairy-free vegetarian or vegan.

Besides, the fact is that sugar is not a food that is high in histamine, or that provokes a histamine reaction in the body, or that blocks the breakdown of histamine.

Having said that, it is important to note that Dr Alison Vickery states that histamine tolerance can be improved through the stabilization of blood sugar levels. She writes, “… unstable blood sugar can increase histamine levels, and histamine levels can progress the development of diabetes or insulin resistance.”

So, while sugar as a food in itself is not directly a problem for people with histamine intolerance, eating too much of it can cause a “spike” in your blood sugar levels. A spike is generally followed by a sharp drop in blood sugar levels as the body releases insulin to cope with your sugar intake. These zig-zagging spikes and sharp drops are what is meant by “unstable blood sugar”.

To stabilize your blood sugar levels:

  • Avoid eating large quantities of sugar and foods containing refined carbohydrates (such as sodas, candy, cakes etc.)
  • Choose foods that are low on the glycemic index.
  • Avoid artificial sweeteners altogether.
  • If you want extra low-calorie sweetness, choose stevia.

Stevia sugar alternativeAlternatives to Table Sugar

People who prefer to eat less sugar can easily adapt the Strictly Low Histamine Diet to their needs. Here are some suggestions:

  • Choose, from the book, recipes that contain no sugar.
  • For recipes containing sugar, substitute rice malt syrup. Anti-sugar advocates say that the main problem with sugar is its fructose content. Rice malt syrup (also known as brown rice syrup) is fructose-free.
  • Alternatively, substitute stevia for sugar. Stevia is a natural sweetener derived from the “sweet-leaf” plant, and it does not cause a spike in blood sugars when consumed.

We hope this post has been helpful!

 

 

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Home Made Hair Conditioner for Itchy Scalps

home made hair conditionerHome-Made Hair Conditioner

If you’re histamine intolerant, one of your symptoms could be an itchy scalp.  Commercial hair products may contain ingredients such as fragrances, which can irritate sensitive skin and make itchy scalps worse. So why not make your own fragrance-free, natural hair conditioner? It’s actually a lot of fun.

This recipe comes courtesy of www.easy-aromatherapy-recipes.com. To make the hair conditioner you will need a ‘carrier oil’ to suit your hair type. If you find that this formula makes your hair feel greasy, then use grapeseed oil as your carrier oil and reduce the amount. Note: Avocado oil should only make up to 10% of your total oil hair care blend because it leaves a waxy residue that’s very hard to wash out.

  • Normal Hair:     Jojoba Oil, Olive Oil or Virgin Coconut Oil
  • Dry, Damaged or Frizzy Hair:     Castor Oil, Jojoba Oil, Olive Oil, Shea Butter or Virgin Coconut Oil
  • Oily Hair:     Grapeseed Oil or Jojoba Oil
  • Thinning Hair:     Olive Oil, Sweet Almond Oil, Avocado Oil, Castor Oil, Grapeseed Oil
  • Dandruff:    Sesame Oil, Virgin Coconut Oil, Avocado Oil, Castor Oil, Olive Oil

Ingredients:

  • 1 teaspoon (5ml) carrier oil for your hair type (see above)
  • 1 teaspoon (5ml) vegetable glycerin
  • 1 tablespoon (8g) emulsifying wax
  • 1/2 tsp (1.5ml) Vitamin E (or 2 capsules)
  • 1/2 cup (125ml) distilled water
  • 5 drops grapefruit seed extract

Instructions:

  • Stir together the oil, emulsifying wax and glycerin in the top part of a double boiler, warming slowly over a low heat until the wax is melted. Remove from heat and pour in the Vitamin E.
  • In a separate pot on the stove or in the microwave, gently warm the water or herbal infusion just until lukewarm. Do NOT skip this step or your conditioner will separate later on.
  • Slowly pour the water/herbal infusion into the oil mixture, stirring constantly with a wire whisk until the mixture is creamy and smooth. Let the mixture cool a little so the essential oils don’t evaporate too quickly when you add them.
  • Don’t worry if it doesn’t thicken immediately – it thickens as it cools down to room temperature.
  • Stir in the essential oil and the grapefruit seed extract. Pour the natural hair conditioner into a clean, sterilized 8oz (250ml) dark glass or PET plastic bottle and allow it to cool before putting the lid on.
  • Shake the bottle occasionally as the conditioner cools to prevent the ingredients from separating. Store in a cool, dark place.
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Marvelous Mangoes

mangoesMangoes: “The King of Fruits”

Mangoes (Mangifera indica) are an amazing fruit. They are delicious and full of nutrients and fiber, colorful, and versatile. Frozen or fresh, mangoes can be eaten in sweet or savory dishes. Best of all, they are on the list of suitable foods for people who suffer from histamine intolerance. Here are some more facts about mangoes you might not be aware of:

There are more than 400 varieties of mangoes. Each has its own characteristics – differing in flavor, texture, sweetness, size, color etc.

One of the most popular varieties is “Kensington pride”, otherwise known as KP, Bowen or Bowen special. Some rate this as the most delicious mango in the world. Other popular varieties include Calypso, Haven, Palmer, Keitt and Kesar.

New research suggests that eating mangoes may help protect against cancer and obesity related diseases. According to some studies, compounds in mangoes can:

  • reduce the ill-effects of eating junk food
  • destroy fat cells
  • boost the metabolism of fats
  • slow down the growth-rate of cancer tumors in mice.
  • help regulate bowel movements
  • lower cholesterol
  • clear the skin
  • improve eye health
  • improve digestion

Mango is native to India and Southeast Asia. Watch fruit hunters Richard Campbell and Noris Ledesma of the Rare Fruit Council search for the rare white mango on the island of Borneo.

 

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Chia seeds

chia seedsWhat’s Good About Chia Seeds?

Chia seeds (Salvia hispanica) are rich in Omega-3 ALA (alpha-linolenic acid). According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, one ounce of these amazing seeds contains about 5 grams of Omega-3 ALA, which has numerous health benefits.

Chia seeds are packed with fiber and protein and they are also gluten-free. Their ability to absorb water makes them useful as a thickener in stews, soups and casseroles. They come in three colors –  black, white and red.

According to the SIGHI list of “Histamine Potential of Foods and Additives”, which is one of the authorities on which our own food list is based, chia seeds are compatible with a low histamine diet.

How to Make “Chia Eggs”

You can use chia seeds as a vegan egg replacement in cooking. To prepare a chia egg, begin by grinding some chia seeds in a food processor such as a coffee grinder. It’s best to freshly grind your own seeds rather than to buy pre-ground seeds from a store.

To make the equivalent of one hen’s egg, whisk 1 tablespoon of ground chia seed into 3 tablespoons of water in a small bowl.

Thoroughly combine the water and ground chia seeds, then place them in the refrigerator for 15 minutes to set.  When that time has elapsed, the seeds should look like a sticky, eggy mass. Use them as you would use eggs, in baking.

Never eat dry chia seeds, because they naturally absorb water. Eating them dry is dangerous – that may absorb water in the esophagus and swell, causing an obstruction.

How to Make “Chia Pudding”

 Soak chia seeds overnight in your favorite low-histamine milk or brewed rooibos tea.  (Keep the mixture refrigerated). In the morning the seeds will have absorbed some of the liquid and swelled to become a delicious, creamy dessert. Add chopped mangoes, figs, a sprinkle of sugar, a dash of allspice or any other tasty low-histamine ingredients of your choice and voila, you have a delicious, nutritious pudding!

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather