If you suffer from allergies, you may need to remove fermented, aged, and cured foods from your diet. While the ultimate solution should be to make yourself more resilient to both pollen and these foods, lowering the amount of histamine in your “histamine bucket” may provide needed relief in the short-term.
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Got allergies? Even if your allergies are to the pollen outdoors this is why you should be thinking about the foods that you’re eating.
Hi. I’m Dr. Chris Masterjohn of chrismasterjohnphd.com. And this is Chris Masterjohn Lite, where the name of the game is “Details? Shmeetails. Just tell me what works!”
And today we’re going to talk about why what you’re eating might be impacting your seasonal allergies. A little story first. At the beginning of this summer my allergies started acting up more than they have been in years and why that might be the case is a different story. But they were.
One of the things that I’d been playing around with in my diet at that time was the milk protein casein. For totally independent reasons I had found that whenever I took casein out of my diet, although whey protein had no impact, whenever I took foods that contain casein like cheese, milk, yogurt etc., whenever I took casein out of my diet my weight would drop two pounds and whenever I would put it back into my diet it would go up two pounds. Up and down like clockwork every time I put it in or took it out. And that made me think maybe there’s an inflammatory process going on here that’s causing me to retain water.
One of the things that I noticed was that my allergies seemed to get better when I take the casein out of my diet, although they had been by no means disappearing. So I thought maybe if I run with this theory that the background level of inflammation is contributing to my response to pollen that I should look for other things that I might be doing or eating that could be impacting my background level of inflammation.
Now when you get allergies in response to pollen what you’re, what’s causing the allergic reaction is histamine, and that’s why when you take over-the-counter allergy drugs you’re taking antihistamines. So I thought, well what might be contributing to the amount of histamine in my body? And the obvious thing to look at was histamine in foods because foods can contain histamine.
And the foods that contain the most histamine are foods that have been fermented or aged or cured, so whether that’s kimchi or sauerkraut or kombucha or even to some degree yogurt, but especially cheese, aged and cured meats, and so on, all of these foods can, or do contain histamine. And so I started thinking of this as a histamine bucket.
If the foods are putting histamine in, maybe if it’s just the foods I don’t have any reaction, maybe putting casein into the bucket is causing a little bit of an allergic reaction somewhere that doesn’t by itself cause any problems, but it raises the histamine level in the bucket.
Well if I go outdoors into the pollen and that bucket is three-quarters full that pollen coming in might be the thing that provokes histamine enough to overfill the bucket and cause the allergic reaction. Whereas if I take out the casein and I take out the histamine in foods and I bring that background level of histamine down close to zero and I go outdoors with an empty bucket then the pollen puts a little histamine in the bucket, but it doesn’t do anything.
So lo and behold simply by removing the histamine from my diet, actually not completely removing the histamine from my diet, by just removing the fermented foods that I’d been eating one or two tablespoons of at each meal. Simply by removing those, after I removed the casein my seasonal allergies disappeared.
So what can we learn from this? Well I think the theory is very sound that what you’re responding to is the total amount of histamine and so the way that you, so anything that should reduce your background level of histamine should reduce the degree to which you react to pollen outdoors.
So what are the things that you can look at? Well the number one thing to look at is histamine in foods. Again that’s anything that’s fermented, aged or cured. There are some other foods that contain, that are that are not aged or cured, that contain moderate amounts of histamine.
If you google histamine in foods or high-histamine foods you’ll get a more complete list than what I’m giving you in this episode. Removing those foods should be the number one target because those put histamine in the bucket for anyone, you, me, doesn’t matter.
Then the next level is is there anything that I specifically or you specifically respond to with inflammation.
And those things can be individual, we don’t really know what they are and it takes some trial and error. You could look at the foods that people are most often allergic to as common culprits like milk products, egg products, soy, tree nuts.
If you look at those first you can trial, trial and error your way through it and see if you need to remove them. But hopefully removing histamine at first did the trick and you don’t need to go that far. Now I don’t want to suggest that the solution to seasonal allergies is a restrictive diet, but if you’re in the middle of an allergic reaction and you want to feel better in the instant
that may be the quickest solution.
In future episodes I’ll talk more about what you can do to kind of fix the problem at its roots and become less reactive to pollen and other, and other sources of allergic reactions.