Anti- Al­lergy Foods

Elim­i­nate the an­noy­ing symp­toms of al­ler­gies by fo­cus­ing on his­tamine— and how to re­duce it with diet and sup­ple­ments

Better Nutrition - - CONTENTS - /// BY EMILY A. KANE, ND, LAc

Man­age al­lergy symp­toms by switch­ing to a low- his­tamine diet.


: I read your col­umn about how an­ti­his­tamines med­i­ca­tions like Be­nadryl could dry my brain [ search “An­ti­his­tamine Al­ter­na­tives” on bet­ter­nu­tri­tion. com]. Not good! But I get sea­sonal runny nose and itchy eyes, and it seems these symp­toms are get­ting worse ev­ery year. How can I break this cy­cle with­out harm­ful drugs? — Tammy Lynn E., Ran­cho Cor­dova, Calif.


Al­most all “al­ler­gies” present their an­noy­ing symp­toms through the body’s im­mune- stim­u­lat­ing his­tamine. His­tamine re­sides mostly in the ba­sophils and mast cells ( types of white blood cells), but also works in the stom­ach to help re­lease gas­tric acid. It’s an im­por­tant neu­ro­trans­mit­ter for sleep/ wake cy­cles, and it plays a role in both mem­ory and ap­petite.

Of course, most of us only know his­tamine as the infl am­ma­tory agent that causes sea­sonal al­lergy symp­toms. While these his­tamine- driven re­sponses are in­tended to pro­tect the body against ir­ri­tants, a con­stantly run­ning nose and ir­ri­tated eyes can put a damper on the day, which is why an­ti­his­tamines have be­come so pop­u­lar de­spite their trou­ble­some side eff ects.

Man­ag­ing His­tamine

His­tamine lev­els in the body can be­come el­e­vated for a va­ri­ety of rea­sons:

1. In­creased pro­duc­tion oc­curs when we are chron­i­cally ex­posed to ir­ri­tants.

2. In­creased ex­po­sure is in­evitable when we have a high- his­tamine diet.

3. We may not have enough di­amine ox­i­dase ( DAO), the en­zyme that de­ac­ti­vates his­tamine af­ter it has done its job. Ge­net­ics, GI is­sues such as leaky gut, and some med­i­ca­tions can all cause low DAO.

How can you de­ter­mine if you have a his­tamine prob­lem? If some­thing in this ar­ti­cle rings a bell, con­sider com­pletely elim­i­nat­ing high- his­tamine foods from your diet for at least 30 days. Three months is bet­ter. Com­mon high- his­tamine foods to be avoided in­clude:

* Fer­mented al­co­holic bev­er­ages, es­pe­cially wine, cham­pagne and beer

* Fer­mented foods ( soy sauce, sauer­kraut, kefi r, yo­gurt, kom­bucha)

* Vine­gar- con­tain­ing foods ( pick­les, may­on­naise, olives)

* Cured meats ( ba­con, salami, pep­per­oni, hot dogs)

* Soured foods ( sour cream, sour milk, but­ter­milk, soured bread)

* Dried fruit ( apri­cots, prunes, dates, fi gs, raisins)

* Most cit­rus fruits

* Aged cheese, in­clud­ing goat cheese

* Nuts ( wal­nuts, cashews)

* Some veg­eta­bles ( av­o­ca­dos, egg­plant, spinach, and to­ma­toes)

* Smoked fi sh and cer­tain species of fi sh ( mack­erel, mahi- mahi, tuna, an­chovies, sar­dines)

The fol­low­ing foods not only con­tain his­tamine, but may in­duce the re­lease of our own his­tamine from the mast cells and ba­sophils:

* Al­co­hol

* Ba­nanas

* Choco­late

* Cow’s milk

* Nuts * Pa­paya

* Pineap­ple

* Shellfi sh

* Straw­ber­ries

* To­ma­toes

* Wheat germ

* Many ar­tifi cial preservatives and dyes

And then there are some foods that block the DAO en­zyme:

* Al­co­hol

* En­ergy drinks

* Black tea

* Mate tea

* Green tea

You might be think­ing that this doesn’t leave you with much to eat, but fresh­ness is key when you have his­tamine in­tol­er­ance. Fresh- caught fi sh or meat that is degut­ted and ei­ther frozen or cooked im­me­di­ately is fi ne. Fish or meat that has been sit­ting around in a pack­age will likely ex­ac­er­bate his­tamine in­tol­er­ance. In ad­di­tion, try these low- his­tamine foods:

* Eggs

* Gluten- free grains such as rice and quinoa

* Pure peanut but­ter * Fresh fruits ( mango, pear, wa­ter­melon, ap­ple, kiwi, can­taloupe, grapes)

* All fresh veg­eta­bles ex­cept to­ma­toes, spinach, av­o­cado, and egg­plant

* Dairy sub­sti­tutes ( co­conut milk, rice milk, hemp milk, al­mond milk)

* Cook­ing oils ( olive oil, co­conut oil)

* Leafy herbs such as pars­ley, cilantro, oregano, dill, and thyme

* Herbal teas

Sup­ple­ments & More for Al­ler­gies

In ad­di­tion to try­ing a low- his­tamine diet for a few months, avoid­ing ir­ri­tants is the key to calm­ing al­lergy symp­toms— un­for­tu­nately, that’s eas­ier said than done, un­less you want to wear a mask all the time!

Try to keep your home clean, es­pe­cially the bed­room. Avoid syn­thetic bed­ding and sleep­wear, which cre­ate elec­tro­mag­netic static, at­tract­ing par­tic­u­late mat­ter that will in­evitably drift up your nose or down your throat. A high- qual­ity air fi ltra­tion sys­tem— es­pe­cially in the bed­room— is also a good in­vest­ment.

There are DAO sup­ple­ments on the mar­ket, as well as ex­cel­lent combo prod­ucts that con­tain en­zymes to break down pro­tein, fats, sug­ars, and fi ber. En­zymes taken with food, at the be­gin­ning of a meal, can help your body digest and as­sim­i­late the nu­tri­ents. En­zymes taken on an empty stom­ach are my fa­vorite anti- infl am­ma­tory sup­ple­ment, be­cause

they have vir­tu­ally zero side eff ects. The “de­bris” of your body re­act­ing to an ir­ri­tant, as well as the ir­ri­tant it­self, are read­ily bro­ken down and read­ied for elim­i­na­tion with the help of en­zymes.

And re­mem­ber: en­zymes aren’t just to help you digest your food. Your en­tire im­mune sys­tem works en­zy­mat­i­cally. The bur­den of plas­tic and packaged food in the mod­ern world has taken a toll on our abil­ity to pro­duce ad­e­quate en­zymes for op­ti­mal health and di­ges­tion. So en­zymes are uni­ver­sally help­ful, and it’s hard to go wrong with a prod­uct that con­tains the ba­sic groups of en­zymes: pro­tease, or pro­te­olytic en­zymes ( to digest pro­tein), li­pase ( to digest fats), amy­lase ( to digest starches), cel­lu­lase ( to digest cel­lu­lose, a preva­lent food fi ber), and phy­tase ( to digest phytic acid, the hard- to- digest part of legumes and grains).

For keep­ing the nasal pas­sages free of ir­ri­tants, neti pots can be help­ful— but they work bet­ter pre­ven­tively than acutely. Once your nasal pas­sages are stuff ed up, I pre­fer steam in­hala­tion. Just put a few drops of es­sen­tial oils and half a cup of hot wa­ter in a bowl. Place the bowl at a ta­ble where you can sit com­fort­ably, drap­ing a big towel over your head, shoul­ders, and the bowl. Close your eyes and breathe deeply for sev­eral min­utes while the aro­matic steam rises. Pep­per­mint, eu­ca­lyp­tus, thyme, and oregano are all good choices for this method of de­con­ges­tion. Frank­in­cense ( boswellia ) is also a fan­tas­tic and fra­grant medic­i­nal plant that has been used since an­tiq­uity as a de­con­ges­tant, anti- infl am­ma­tory, and an­ti­sep­tic.

Sup­ple­ments to help your body with his­tamine bal­ance, as well as sooth­ing your mu­cous mem­branes, in­clude vi­ta­min C and biofl avonoids. Make sure your vi­ta­min C prod­uct is su­gar- free and buff ered ( usu­ally with cal­cium and mag­ne­sium, to bring the pH to 7, which al­lows for ab­sorp­tion). Quercetin and turmeric are my fa­vorite food- based biofl avonoids.

Do you have a ques­tion for Dr. Kane? Email it to ed­i­to­rial@ bet­ter­nu­tri­tion. com with “Ask the ND” in the sub­ject line.

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