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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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        Last Updated on November 18, 2020

        50 Habits of Highly Successful People You Should Learn

        50 Habits of Highly Successful People You Should Learn

        If you’re like me and really into self-development, you’ve probably read many of the thousands of self-help books out there on the market. But also like me, you probably find all the information a bit overwhelming.

        That’s why I wanted to do the self-less task of taking the most important, life-changing lessons I’ve drawn from these books and condensed them into 50 key points.

        Here’re 50 habits of successful people you should learn:

        1. Believe It to See It

        Our minds tend to focus on what’s happening around us and refuse to see what could happen. Only when you trust in what’s possible and dare to dream big, big things can happen for you.

        2. See Problems as a Wonderful Gift

        While others only see problems and give up, successful people use the problem as a lesson to find improvement in themselves or the task at hand.

        3. Keep Looking for Solutions

        Even if they’re knee-deep in problems, successful people will still put all of their focus on finding solutions.

        4. Remember It’s All About the Journey

        Successful people are conscious and methodical in creating their own success. They don’t sit around doing the bare minimum, hoping success finds them.

        5. Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway

        There’s so much fear on the road to success, but instead of letting that fear control and limit them, successful people do a good job of just forging ahead regardless.

        6. Always Ask Productive Questions

        It’s all about asking the right questions. Successful people make sure they are questions that will elicit information for a more productive, creative and positive mindset moving forward.

        7. Understand the Best Waste of Energy Is Complaining

        Successful people know that choosing to see the negative side of things will only create a useless and unproductive state.

        8. Don’t Play the Blame Game

        Taking responsibility for actions and outcomes is a form of empowerment that you can build your success upon. While the act of blaming others or outside circumstances takes this empowerment away from you.

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        9. Maximize Your Strengths

        Not every successful person is simply more talented than the rest, but they do use what they know they’re good at to achieve more successful results.

        10. Be in It to Win It

        Successful people are busy, productive and proactive. Instead of sitting around over-thinking and over-planning a great idea, they just take a step towards it no matter how small.

        11. Know That Success Attracts Success

        People who are successful surround themselves and seek out like-minded people. They understand the importance of being part of a team and forge win-win relationships.

        12. Actually Choose to Be Successful

        Dreaming big is a massive part of being successful even if your dream seems impossible. Ambition is a mindset that needs to be a daily conscious choice.

        13. Visualize, Visualize, Visualize!

        You’ve got to see your success in your mind’s eye even before it comes. Successful people clarify and get that certainty about what they want their reality to look like rather than being mere spectators of life.

        14. Be a One-Off Original

        Successful people look for what’s working and then create a unique spin on it. Imitating only regurgitates other people’s ideas with no originality.

        15. The Perfect Time to Act Is Now

        Waiting for the right time to act is basically procrastination wrapped up in an excuse. Successful people know there’s never a perfect time so they may as well just do it now.

        16. Keep Learning, Keep Growing

        Continuous learning is the key to a successful life. Whether it’s academic, being a student of life or actionable learning, it’s all about expanding your knowledge and personal development.

        17. Always Look on the Bright Side of Life

        Successful people have the knack for finding positive aspects in all people and circumstances no matter what.

        18. Having a Bad Day? Do It Anyway!

        We all have bad moods but it shouldn’t be an excuse to stop everything. Giving into a bad mood just stop-starts your life, slowing success way down.

        19. Sometimes Risky Business Is Needed

        Calculated risks are a must for success. It’s about weighing the pros and cons while moving forward with that element of trust.

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        20. Accept Challenge All the Time

        Dealing with problems head-on is a must to be successful. Successful people also face challenges in order to improve themselves.

        21. Make Your Own Luck

        In the mindset of a successful person, there’s no such thing as ‘luck’ or ‘fate’. They take control to actively and consciously create their own best life.

        22. Ignite Your Initiative

        While many people are reactive, successful people are proactive – taking action before they have to.

        23. Be the Master of Your Emotions

        Being effective at managing emotions is key on the road to success. That’s not to say successful people don’t feel like we all do, but they’re just not slaves to their emotions.

        24. Champion in Communication

        Consciously working on effective communication skills gets anyone closer to success.

        25. Plan Your Life Strategically

        Successful people’s lives aren’t a clumsy series of unplanned events and outcomes, they methodically work at turning their plans into a reality.

        26. Become Exceptional at What You Do

        To become exceptional, you typically have to do things that most won’t. To become successful, hard decisions need to be made and acting on them is crucial.

        27. Choose to Live Outside of Your Comfort Zone

        While many people are pleasure junkies and avoid pain and discomfort at all costs, successful people understand the value and benefits of working through the tough stuff that most would avoid.

        28. Live by Core Values

        Successful people firstly identify their core values and what’s important to them, then do their best to live a life that reflects these values.

        29. Realize Money Isn’t Everything

        Money and success are not interchangeable and the most successful people understand this. Putting money on a pedestal and equating it to success is a dangerous mindset to have. Success comes in many forms.

        30. Don’t Get Carried Away

        Successful people understand the importance of discipline and self-control and as a result they are happy to take the road less travelled.

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        31. Self-Worth Is Not Tied to Success

        Successful people are secure. They do not derive their self-worth from what they own, who they know, where they live or what they look like.

        32. Kindness Breeds Kindness (And Success)

        Generosity and kindness is a common trait among long-term successful people. It’s important to take pleasure in helping others achieve.

        33. More Humility, Less Arrogance

        Successful people are humble and happy to admit and apologize for mistakes. This is because they’re confident in their ability. They are happy to learn from others and happy to make others look good rather than seek their own personal glory.

        34. Change Opens New Doors

        People who are successful are adaptable and embrace change, while the majority are creatures of comfort and habit. They are comfortable with, and embrace, the new and the unfamiliar.

        35. Success Requires a Healthy Body

        It’s not just how you think, it’s about how you show up for success. Successful people understand the importance of being physically well, not for vain reasons but because being in tiptop condition creates a better personal life for success.

        36. Laziness Just Doesn’t Exist

        Successful people are never considered lazy. Yes, they can relax when they need to, but working hard is their game.

        37. Resilience by the Bucket Load

        When difficulty strikes, most would throw in the towel, but successful people are just warming up.

        38. Feedback Is Just Another Chance to Improve

        How people react to feedback determines their potential for success. Being open to constructive criticism and acting on it to improve is most seen in those who are successful.

        39. Your Vibe Attracts Your Tribe

        If people are hanging out with toxic and negative people, then they need to take a look at themselves. Successful people hang out with others who are positive and supportive.

        40. Can’t Control It? Forget It

        Successful people don’t invest time or emotional energy into things which they have no control of.

        41. Swim Against the Tide

        Successful people are not people-pleasers and they don’t need constant approval from others in order to move ahead.

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        42. Alone Time Is Valuable Time

        More self-worth means being more comfortable with your own company. Successful people are more happy and see the value in spending time alone.

        43. Self-Standard Is Higher Than Most

        Everyone has a choice to set high standards for themselves. Successful people do this, which in turn produces greater commitment, more momentum, a better work ethic and of course, better results.

        44. Failure Isn’t Rationalized

        While many use age, health, lack of time, ‘bad luck’, or lack of opportunity to explain away their failure, the key to success is finding a way to succeed despite facing these challenges.

        45. Down Time Is an Important Part of a Routine

        Having an off switch and taking time to do things that make them happy is a common trait of a successful person. Take a look at here The Importance of Scheduling Downtime.

        46. Career Isn’t Who You Are, It’s What You Do

        Successful people know their career isn’t their identity. They are multi-dimensional and don’t define themselves by their job.

        47. Be Interested in Only the Path of Resistance

        While most people look for the easiest way or the shortcut, successful people are more interested in the most effective way. They look for the course of action which will produce the best results over the long term.

        48. Follow Through

        Many spend their life starting things that they never finish, but successful people get the job done. Even when the excitement and the novelty has worn off they still follow through and finish.

        49. Invest in All Your Dimensions

        We’re not just physical and psychological beings, but emotional and spiritual creatures as well. Successful people consciously work at being healthy and productive on all levels.

        50. Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

        To obtain success, it’s important to practice what you preach. Successful people don’t talk about the theory, they live the reality.

        So there you have it, a summary of what I’ve learned from self-help books. But of course, you need to start taking actions so you will get closer to success too.

        Bonus: 5 Bad Habits To Quit

        More About Success

        Featured photo credit: Juan Jose via unsplash.com

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