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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

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    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.

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    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

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    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.

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        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.

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        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.

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

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        Last Updated on February 21, 2019

        Top 9 Foods for Incredible Brian Health And Brain Power

        Top 9 Foods for Incredible Brian Health And Brain Power

        Your brain is the most intricate and powerful organ in your entire body. It’s essentially a super-computer with brain power like a Ferrari.

        If you have a Ferrari, would you put cheap gasoline in it? Of course not. You want to put in high-octane performance fuel to get the most out of your investment.

        When it comes to the brain, many people are looking for the top foods that will supercharge the brainpower to help focus better, think more clearly and have better brain health.

        In this article, we’ll look at the top 9 brain foods that will help create supercharge your brain with energy and health:

        1. Salmon

        Salmon has long been held as a healthy brain food, but what makes this fish so valuable for your brain health?

        It’s important to understand that your brain is primarily made up of fat. Roughly 60% of your brain is fat. One of the most important fats that the brain uses as a building block for healthy brain cells is omega-3’s.

        Omega-3’s are essential for building a healthy brain but one of the most important omega-3’s for your brain is DHA. DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) forms nearly two-thirds of the omega-3’s found in your brain.[1]

        Omega-3’s and DHA in particular help form the protective coating around our neurons. The better quality this coating is, the more efficient and effective our brain cells can work, allowing our brain power to work at full capacity.

        Studies have shown that being deficient in DHA can affect normal brain development in children, which is why so many infant formulas and children’s supplements are beginning to include DHA.

        Being deficient in DHA as an adult can cause focus and attention problems, mood swings, irritability, fatigue and poor sleep.

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        2. Blueberries

        Blueberries top the list as one of the most beneficial fruits to maximize your brain health and performance.

        Blueberries have some of the highest content of antioxidants, particularly anthocyanins, than any other fruit, which helps protect the brain from stress and promote healthy brain aging.

        Blueberries antioxidant content also help reduce inflammation, which allows the brain to maintain healthy energy levels.

        Blueberries have begun to receive attention for their connection to brain performance.[2] Studies have demonstrated that eating blueberries on a regular basis can not only improve brain health but also brain performance as well including working memory.[3]

        Blueberries not only taste great but are low in calories, high in Vitamin C, Vitamin K and Manganese.

        3. Turmeric

        Turmeric is a very impressive spice that has well-researched and proven to have tremendous benefits for your brain. Turmeric’s main compound that benefits the brain is called curcumin, which is responsible for turmerics bright yellow appearance.

        Curcumin has been shown to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-cancer properties.[4]

        Curcumin increases the production and availability of two important neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine, two important neurotransmitters involved with happiness, motivation, pleasure, and reward.

        Curcumin has been well documented to have powerful anti-depressive effects. In one study, it was found to be as effective for depression as popular medications such as SSRI’s like Prozac.[5]

        Curcumin has also been shown to:

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        • Increase blood flow to the brain.[6]
        • Increase BDNF production, a powerful stimulator of neuroplasticity.[7]
        • Increase DHA availability and synthesis in the brain.[8]
        • Increase antioxidant levels in the brain to prevent brain aging and inflammation.[9]

        4. Coffee

        Coffee is the wonderful elixir of energy that many people cherish every single morning. The biggest reason people drink coffee is to get a dose of caffeine.

        Caffeine is a natural neurological stimulant that not only gives you energy but also prevents adenosine, a neurotransmitter involved with feeling tired, from binding in the brain.

        Many people are surprised to find that coffee actually contains a large quantity of antioxidants called polyphenols, which are important for reducing inflammation in the brain and keep your brain energized. The antioxidants in coffee also provide a neuroprotective effect, protecting the brain from stress and damage. [R]

        Coffee can also:

        • Improve alertness and concentration.[10]
        • Help with neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinson’s disease.[11]
        • Reduce your risk of depression.[12]
        • Improve your memory.
        • Provide short-term boost in athletic performance.[13]

        5. Broccoli

        What was your least favorite food as a kid growing up?

        Most likely, broccoli was your answer.

        Broccoli may not have been your top choice, but it might be the top choice for your brain.

        Broccoli contains a compound called sulforaphane. Sulforaphane has been shown to promote the proliferation and survival of brain cells by reducing inflammation and boosting production of BDNF. It has also been shown to boost neurogenesis, the production of new brain cells.[14]

        Broccoli is also loaded with important nutrients Vitamin K and Folate. Vitamin K plays a vital role in protecting brain cells.[15] Folate plays a crucial role in detoxification and reducing inflammation in the brain.

        6. Bone broth

        Bone broth wasn’t just created to combine with soups, you can actually drink bone broth by itself.

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        Drinking bone broth has become one of the biggest trends in the health and wellness industry and for good reason. Bone broth isn’t actually a new thing. Bone broth has been used for centuries as a healing tonic to promote health and longevity.

        Much of the nutritional benefits and value of bone broth comes from its substantial vitamin and mineral content. Primarily calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and potassium.

        Your gut is called your second brain for a reason. Research continually shows that there is a direct and indirect connection between your gut and your brain. Your gut also houses and stores many important brain compounds involved with optimal brain performance. Therefore the health of your gut is vitally important for your brain health and performance.

        Bone broth has become a go-to tool for helping heal the gut and provide the gut with the vital nutrient and resources it needs to heal and perform optimally.

        With the vast amounts of nutrients that bone broth contains, it makes the list as a go-to food for your brain health.

        Look for high quality, organic bone broth for the best results.

        7. Walnuts

        Walnuts are one of the top choices of nuts for brain health. Walnuts also look similar to a brain.

        Amongst the wide variety of nuts available, walnuts contain the highest amounts of the important omega-3 DHA. DHA, as seen above, is a critical building block for a healthy brain.

        Walnuts also contain high amounts of antioxidants, folate, magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus, which help to lower inflammation.

        Melatonin in walnuts is an important nutrient for regulating your sleep. Having low amounts of melatonin can make it challenging to get good quality sleep and getting poor quality sleep can dramatically impair brain health and performance.

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        8. Eggs

        For years, eggs were put on the nutritional naughty list; but now, eggs are finally getting the credit they deserve. Eggs can provide a tremendous boost to your brain health and longevity.

        Eggs, particularly the yolks, contain a compound called choline. Choline is essential for building the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Acetylcholine plays an important role in mood, memory, and intelligence.

        Egg yolks contain some of the highest quantities of choline. This is very important because low levels of choline can lead to low levels of acetylcholine, which in turn can cause increased inflammation, brain fog, difficulty concentrating and fatigue.

        9. Dark chocolate

        You’re about to love chocolate even more because chocolate, particularly dark chocolate, is great for your brain.

        Chocolate boosts levels of endorphins, your brains “feel good” chemicals. This is why you feel so good eating chocolate.[16]

        Chocolate also increases blood flow to the brain which can help improve memory, attention, focus, and reaction time.[17]

        Dark chocolate contains high levels of magnesium, which has been coined “natures valium” for its ability to calm and relax the brain.

        Lastly, dark chocolate has one of the highest antioxidant profiles out of any other food, including popular superfoods like acai berries, blueberries, or pomegranates.[18]

        Conclusion

        Your brain is a high performing organ and it uses quite a lot of energy, roughly 20% of the bodies energy demands.

        In order to maintain a healthy brain, you need the right fuel to ensure that your brain has all the nutrients it needs to perform as well as adapt to the stress of life.

        If you want to keep your brain performing well for a lifetime, then you want to make sure you are including as many of these brain health foods as possible.

        More Resources About Boosting Brain Power

        Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

        Reference

        [1] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: DHA Effects in Brain Development and Function
        [2] Canadian Science Publishing: Enhanced task-related brain activation and resting perfusion in healthy older adults after chronic blueberry supplementation
        [3] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Cognitive effects following acute wild blueberry supplementation in 7- to 10-year-old children.
        [4] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Curcumin: the Indian solid gold.
        [5] Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. 2nd edition.: Turmeric, the Golden Spice
        [6] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Effect of combined treatment with curcumin and candesartan on ischemic brain damage in mice.
        [7] Science Direct: Curcumin reverses the effects of chronic stress on behavior, the HPA axis, BDNF expression and phosphorylation of CREB
        [8] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Curcumin boosts DHA in the brain: Implications for the prevention of anxiety disorders.
        [9] PLOS: A Chemical Analog of Curcumin as an Improved Inhibitor of Amyloid Abeta Oligomerization
        [10] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Effects of Caffeine on Cognitive Performance, Mood, and Alertness in Sleep-Deprived Humans
        [11] American Academy of Neurology: A Cup of Joe May Help Some Parkinson’s Disease Symptoms
        [12] American Academy of Neurology: AAN 65th Annual Meeting Abstract
        [13] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Effects of caffeine on the metabolic and catecholamine responses to exercise in 5 and 28 degrees C.
        [14] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Hyperammonemia induces glial activation, neuroinflammation and alters neurotransmitter receptors in hippocampus, impairing spatial learning: reversal by sulforaphane
        [15] Oxford Academic: Vitamin K and the Nervous System: An Overview of its Actions
        [16] Diana L. Walcutt, Ph.D: Chocolate and Mood Disorders
        [17] Health Magazine: Chocolate can do good things for your heart, skin and brain
        [18] Chemistry Central Journal: Cacao seeds are a “Super Fruit”: A comparative analysis of various fruit powders and products

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