The Internet offers many ‘low histamine’ food lists. Reading them all can be confusing, because they often contradict each other. Low histamine food lists are not as simple as, say, gluten-free or lactose-free food lists, because gluten and lactose are either found in a food or they are not. Their existence is independent of storage conditions and freshness.
Histamine levels, by contrast, fluctuate. A food might be low in histamine to begin with, yet high in histamine as it ages. Histamine levels in food also vary depending on the storage methods (e.g. freezing halts histamine development).
Furthermore, some of these published lists include foods that may not have high histamine levels, but which contain compounds that provoke histamine release. Others do not.
Many low histamine food lists do not take into account foods that may be DAO blockers. Moreover, they may not include mention of oxalate (oxalic acid), an irritant that can trigger histamine release, thereby causing the same symptoms as histamine. Oxalates can also contribute to the distress and debility of chronic fatigue syndrome and myalgic encephalomyelitis, because they damage and destroy mitochondria. High levels of oxalate in the intestines also hinder beneficial bacteria from colonizing the gut.
Nor do many food histamine lists consider foods that release other biogenic amines, those which may contribute to HIT and which certain foods may release in some individuals, despite the fact that the foods themselves may not contain any biogenic amines.
To add to the confusion, some individuals have published lists of foods which are tailored to their own unique body chemistry. That is, they themselves might be able to tolerate the foods on their list, but most other people cannot. One “low histamine” recipe-writer, for example, recommends using lentils, cocoa, berries and thyme, despite the fact that SIGHI (Swiss Interest Group Histamine Intolerance) describes lentils as “incompatible.” Histamine expert Dr Janice Joneja says, “Berries tend to be high in benzoates. Benzoates release histamine.” And, “There are certain herbs which release histamine. Thyme, for example, releases histamine.” Cocoa contains compounds that are known histamine liberators.
Another person who blogs about mast cells has published “low histamine” recipes that include ingredients such as mushrooms, split peas, squash and quorn, all of which are described as “to be avoided” in numerous authoritative low histamine food lists from around the world.
Even the most authoritative lists, compiled by medical researchers, can have disparities. There is disagreement about a wide range of fruits, vegetables and spices including cherries, grapes, cranberries, blackberries, peaches, apricots, nectarines, pears, black-currants and red-currants, blueberries, kiwi-fruit, pineapple, plums, papaya, mushrooms, broad beans, pumpkin, anise, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.
Legumes and pulses are also debatable. Some lists include non-soy legumes such as dried beans and peas and lentils. All lists ban soy and red beans.
Again, some lists ban all nuts, while others forbid only walnuts, pecans and cashews.
This is why “Is Food Making You Sick? The Strictly Low Histamine Diet” recommends only those foods which have been agreed upon by every genuine, science-backed and meticulously researched source. The low histamine food list in this book is strictly low histamine, as are the recipes.