Advertising
Advertising

What Doctors Don’t Tell You: Healing Allergies and Hives With The Right Foods

What Doctors Don’t Tell You: Healing Allergies and Hives With The Right Foods

Did you know that histamine is the major cause of chronic idiopathic urticaria (CIU) – commonly known as hives?

Regular allergy sufferers are familiar with histamine through antihistamine drugs, but hives sufferers may not be aware that histamine intolerance is a major culprit in their condition.

Histamine Intolerance

sneezing

    Hives, histamine, and allergies are all connected to the inability of our mast cells to metabolize ingested histamine. Diamine oxidase (DAO) is the main enzyme responsible for controlling histamine and should that enzyme be deficient, havoc can erupt in the form of Histamine Intolerance.

    Histamine intolerance is a common but rarely discussed or diagnosed disorder. This is because histamine moves in our bloodstream and can affect every part of the body – particularly gut, brain, lungs and the cardiovascular system, making specific medical diagnosis nearly impossible. The complex and little-addressed relationship between food, allergies, and histamine – our allergy trigger – is ignored by Western medicine. As a result, medical practitioners resort to prescribing drugs such as Prednisone, Atarax, or Levocetirizine (Xyzal) to control hives. All of these drugs have damaging side effects not the least of which is elevating cortisol and weakening our immune system.

    Advertising

    I know. I’ve tried them all; none of them worked. I suffered from CIU for over two and a half years and finally gave up on prescription drugs – and doctor’s advice. It was a debilitating, soul-destroying sojourn with no help in sight. Even when I didn’t have hives, my skin burned and itched and simply putting on a light cotton t-shirt would be unbearably painful. Life as I knew it, ended. I lost 25 pounds, suffered severe hive attacks almost daily and went into anaphylactic shock at least once a week. It seemed like everything I ate caused a hive attack. I carried an epipen everywhere and was in every emergency room in New York City – more than twice – until I finally
    made the connection between food and my symptoms.

    Our Second Brain

    Our ongoing battle with histamine is reflected in myriad symptoms such as migraines, IBS, congestion, extreme mood swings, insomnia, eczema, and of course, hives. None of these conditions can be cured with drugs. It’s a gut problem that needs to be addressed at the source. It’s unfortunate that Western medicine consistently fails to take into account how our bodies function as a complex synergistic organism. The truth is our gut rules our health. Our guts are often referred to as our “second brain” and recent studies show that our overall health is dictated less by our brain and more by our enteric nervous system or our gastrointestinal tract.

    High histamine levels also contribute to elevated feelings of angst and intense mood swings. Allergies can literally change you into another person – in my case, a demon. 

The only solution is to take complete responsibility for what goes into your body. If you’re fighting hives or severe allergies, there are immediate steps you can begin for immediate relief.

    Eliminate Foods High in Histamine

    Advertising

    food-wood-tomatoes_small

      Many foods that are touted as being “healthy” are loaded with histamine and can destroy someone who is histamine intolerant. Nightshades are at the top of my list of “foods to avoid.” This family includes potatoes, eggplant, and tomato. Nightshades produce a natural pesticide called glycoalkaloid. It can annihilate worms and insects, but it blocks enzymes in humans that control our nervous systems.

      Glycoalkaloid toxicity can be found in people who eat a lot of potatoes and Gastrointestinal problems are at the heart of allergy. Spinach is another problem; it contains massive levels of salicylate, a natural preservative. 
Salicylates are known to cause severe allergic reactions. Many people who suffer from allergies have an intolerance to Salicylates [aspirin is a derivative]. Chronic hives are only one of the symptoms of Salicylate toxicity. Avocados are another problem. One allergy they can produce is a “latex-fruit allergy” and the other is birch pollen. Both can result in hives and anaphylaxis.

      HISTAMINE Bucket: Image curtsey of Dr. Jockers.com

        So eggplant, tomato, spinach, and avocado – foods I practically lived on – were eliminated. [Tobacco is also a nightshade so if you’re allergic to tobacco smoke – as I am – it’s a good bet that potatoes and other nightshades will be a problem]. Chocolate and coffee were the next to go. Sugar is another culprit. This is a tough one since so many foods have sugar added, so you have to read labels carefully.

        Advertising

        In general, stay away from processed food altogether. Smoked, processed, and fermented meats like bacon, pepperoni, and salami are big no-nos. Anything fermented will cause histamine to escalate; histamine is produced during fermentation This meant that my second love, cheese, had to go along with any product that used vinegar.

        Probiotics can make it worse

        The probiotic I’d used for years suddenly began causing instant hive attacks. After research on the web, I discovered that not all probiotics are created equal. Many will make allergies and associated symptoms worse, while others will help. Lactobacillus casei and bulgaricus will escalate histamine production while Bifidobacterium infantis, B. longum, and Lactobaccilus Acidophilus will degrade histamine and help your body fight inflammation. Since Lactobacillus casei, and Lactobacillus bulgaricus is found in nearly all yogurt, eliminating yogurt is necessary. You’ll also need to stop all sodas; they’re loaded with sugar and additives. Benzoate, a common preservative in soda, has been implicated in hive attacks and other allergic reactions.

        One more thing to consider is that all alcohol will add to your histamine level so proceed with caution. This excellent chart compiled by Dr. Janice Vickerstaff Joneja of the MASTOCYTOSIS SOCIETY in Canada, provides a clear list of foods to avoid and foods that will help allergy and hive sufferers.

        I’d been gluten free for over three years so I wasn’t worried about that, but it did take some ingenuity to figure out what I could eat. So what’s left? Lots of things evidently, that I had failed to consider. Yasmina Ykelenstam, The Low Histamine Chef, literally saved my life. 
Her website is a goldmine for those suffering from autoimmune or allergic symptoms and she offers several excellent cookbooks. I started with The Anti-Cookbook: Anti-histamine and Anti-inflammatory Recipes for Health.

        Advertising

        Eat These Things

        Kale, zucchini, red onion, garlic and ginger are huge immune boosters. I lived on home made soups for a year using combinations of split yellow pea, fennel and carrots, or sweet potato, red onion and chick peas. Mashed cauliflower stood in for potatoes, but roasted cauliflower is also delicious and a snap to prepare. Finally, though I’ve never had a problem with seafood, I now avoid all shellfish and nuts. Better safe than sorry.

        One more thing: Food should be eaten immediately after cooking – particularly meat and fish. Deterioration begins soon after preparation and histamine levels escalate due to microbial action. Don’t eat leftovers. It’s a tough path to follow, but once you begin to see some relief, you’ll never revert to your old eating habits.

        Other Allergy Culprits

        Many herbs and infusions that are often advocated as having beneficial effects can wreak havoc if you are allergic to that particular plant family. Chamomile, for instance, is part of the family Asteraceae. I found out the hard way that I’m highly allergic to Chamomile, so I avoid it like the plague along with any teas, or skin care preparations that use it as one of the ingredients. Holy Basil tea, on the other hand, has proved to be an amazing anti-inflammatory and I have both pills and tea on hand all the time. It has a calming effect and the tea is delicious and sweet. Holy Basil is part of the aromatic Lamiaceae plant family that also includes mint, rosemary, sage, savory – all herbs I can tolerate. Many medications will inhibit diamine oxidase [DAO] necessary for regulation of histamine. NSAIDs such as ibuprofen and Aspirin can cause histamine levels to elevate, but there are other offenders.

        Finally, blood work revealed that I was severely deficient in D3. I didn’t make the connection, at first. I stumbled across research that proved hive sufferers are commonly deficient in vitamin D3. A study found that introducing (4,000 IU/d) into diet demonstrably reduced hive attacks.

        Only after months of exhaustive research did I arrive at a way to minimize my symptoms and ensure that I was in control of my health. Balancing your system and bringing histamine levels down is not an easy task; it does take time, but eating the right food will work. Once you’ve reached a point where symptoms have abated and your overall health has improved, you can add small increments of food that you love. Now I can eat some blue cheese and I’ll occasionally add a tomato to a salad. The trick is not to over do it and always be aware that what you put into your body will eventually be reflected in your overall health.

        One Final Word

        Never self-diagnose. If you’re suffering from repeated episodes of hives see a physician immediately. They will be able to test for any underlying causes. This should be your first course of action. However, if you’ve been to a battery of physicians including an Endocrinologist, a Gastroenterologist, an allergist and a Dermatologist, plus your regular PHP and they’ve all come up with nothing, then it’s time to revise your diet.

        More by this author

        What Doctors Don’t Tell You: Healing Allergies and Hives With The Right Foods

        Trending in Lifestyle

        1 12 Best Foods That Improve Memory and Brain Health 2 Where Am I Going? How to Put Your Life in Context 3 17 Healthy Late Night Snacks for When Midnight Cravings Hit 4 5 Best Free Websites To Learn Photography Skills Easily 5 10 Ways Helping Others Will Improve Your Life

        Read Next

        Advertising
        Advertising
        Advertising

        Last Updated on August 12, 2019

        12 Best Foods That Improve Memory and Brain Health

        12 Best Foods That Improve Memory and Brain Health

        Nutrition plays a vital role in brain function and staying sharp into the golden years. Personally, my husband is going through medical school, which is like a daily mental marathon. Like any good wife, I am always looking for things that will boost his memory fortitude so he does his best in school.

        But you don’t have to be a med student to appreciate better brainiac brilliance. If you combine certain foods with good hydration, proper sleep and exercise, you may just rival Einstein and have a great memory in no time.

        I’m going to reveal the list of foods coming out of the kitchen that can improve your memory and make you smarter.

        Here are 12 best brain foods that improve memory and brain power:

        1. Nuts

        The American Journal of Epidemiology published a study linking higher intakes of vitamin E with the prevention on cognitive decline.[1]

        Nuts like walnuts and almonds (along with other great foods like avocados) are a great source of vitamin E.

        Cashews and sunflower seeds also contain an amino acid that reduces stress by boosting serotonin levels.

        Walnuts even resemble the brain, just in case you forget the correlation, and are a great source of omega 3 fatty acids, which also improve your mental magnitude.

        Advertising

        2. Blueberries

        Shown in studies at Tuffs University to benefit both short-term memory and coordination, blueberries pack quite a punch in a tiny blue package.[2]

        When compared to other fruits and veggies, blueberries were found to have the highest amount of antioxidants (especially flavonoids), but strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries are also full of brain benefits.

        3. Tomatoes

        Tomatoes are packed full of the antioxidant lycopene, which has shown to help protect against free-radical damage most notably seen in dementia patients.

        4. Broccoli

        While all green veggies are important and rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, broccoli is a superfood even among these healthy choices.

        Since your brain uses so much fuel (it’s only 3% of your body weight but uses up to 17% of your energy), it is more vulnerable to free-radical damage and antioxidants help eliminate this threat.

        Broccoli is packed full of antioxidants, is well-known as a powerful cancer fighter and is also full of vitamin K, which is known to enhance cognitive function.

        5. Foods Rich in Essential Fatty Acids

        Your brain is the fattest organ (not counting the skin) in the human body, and is composed of 60% fat. That means that your brain needs essential fatty acids like DHA and EPA to repair and build up synapses associated with memory.

        The body does not naturally produce essential fatty acids so we must get them in our diet.

        Advertising

        Eggs, flax, and oily fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel and herring are great natural sources of these powerful fatty acids. Eggs also contain choline, which is a necessary building block for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, to help you recall information and concentrate.

        6. Soy

        Soy, along with many other whole foods mentioned here, are full of proteins that trigger neurotransmitters associated with memory.

        Soy protein isolate is a concentrated form of the protein that can be found in powder, liquid, or supplement form.

        Soy is valuable for improving memory and mental flexibility, so pour soy milk over your cereal and enjoy the benefits.

        7. Dark Chocolate

        When it comes to chocolate, the darker the better. Try to aim for at least 70% cocoa. This yummy desert is rich in flavanol antioxidants which increase blood flow to the brain and shield brain cells from aging.

        Take a look at this article if you want to know more benefits of dark chocolate: 15 Surprising and Science-Backed Health Effects of Dark Chocolate

        8. Foods Rich in Vitamins: B vitamins, Folic Acid, Iron

        Some great foods to obtain brain-boosting B vitamins, folic acid and iron are kale, chard, spinach and other dark leafy greens.

        B6, B12 and folic acid can reduce levels of homocysteine in the blood. Homocysteine increases are found in patients with cognitive impairment like Alzheimer’s, and high risk of stroke.

        Advertising

        Studies showed when a group of elderly patients with mild cognitive impairment were given high doses of B6, B12, and folic acid, there was significant reduction in brain shrinkage compared to a similar placebo group.[3]

        Other sources of B vitamins are liver, eggs, soybeans, lentils and green beans. Iron also helps accelerate brain function by carrying oxygen. If your brain doesn’t get enough oxygen, it can slow down and people can experience difficulty concentrating, diminished intellect, and a shorter attention span.

        To get more iron in your diet, eat lean meats, beans, and iron-fortified cereals. Vitamin C helps in iron absorption, so don’t forget the fruits!

        9. Foods Rich in Zinc

        Zinc has constantly demonstrated its importance as a powerful nutrient in memory building and thinking. This mineral regulates communications between neurons and the hippocampus.

        Zinc is deposited within nerve cells, with the highest concentrations found in the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for higher learning function and memory.

        Some great sources of zinc are pumpkin seeds, liver, nuts, and peas.

        10. Gingko Biloba

        This herb has been utilized for centuries in eastern culture and is best known for its memory boosting brawn.

        It can increase blood flow in the brain by dilating vessels, increasing oxygen supply and removing free radicals.

        Advertising

        However, don’t expect results overnight: this may take a few weeks to build up in your system before you see improvements.

        11. Green and Black Tea

        Studies have shown that both green and black tea prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine—a key chemical involved in memory and lacking in Alzheimer’s patients.

        Both teas appear to have the same affect on Alzheimer’s disease as many drugs utilized to combat the illness, but green tea wins out as its affects last a full week versus black tea which only lasts the day.

        Find out more about green tea here: 11 Health Benefits of Green Tea (+ How to Drink It for Maximum Benefits)

        12. Sage and Rosemary

        Both of these powerful herbs have been shown to increase memory and mental clarity, and alleviate mental fatigue in studies.

        Try to enjoy these savory herbs in your favorite dishes.

        When it comes to mental magnitude, eating smart can really make you smarter. Try to implement more of these readily available nutrients and see just how brainy you can be!

        More About Boosting Brain Power

        Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

        Reference

        Read Next