Tips & Info

Is my diet making my allergies worse?

From Sound Dietitians, a partner of the Verdant Health Commission. View the complete blog post and recipes from Sound Dietitians at www.sounddietitians.com/blog/is-my-diet-making-my-allergies-worse.

The end of a long winter welcomes a beautiful spring, and with it, the blooming of colorful plants, flowers, and pollen. While we love the idea of a lovely day in the park, lying in the grass and reading a novel, this can end in itchy eyes, sneezing, and misery. If you are someone who struggles with seasonal allergies, you may be able to help ease some of your symptoms with a few dietary changes. Let’s talk specifically about foods rich in histamine, and how they could be aggravating your allergies!

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What is Histamine
Histamine is a chemical with many roles in the body, including regulating the body’s response to foreign substances or injury. Histamine is released by white blood cells when the body is presented with a foreign substance that is perceived as harmful and provokes an inflammatory response (blood vessels dilate, local tissues swell… where are the tissues?!). Unfortunately, usually unharmful substances such as dust, pollen & dander can be perceived as harmful substances by the body, causing an allergic response. Histamines are the major culprit for our allergy symptoms, but they are not our enemy! Histamine performs an abundance of beneficial acts in the body. Histamine is involved in the production and secretion of gastric acid; aids with stomach contraction; and plays a critical role in our immune system.

Too much Histamine
Just like all things nutrition, it’s a balancing act! You need enough histamine in the body to perform its necessary tasks, but too much and the balance is thrown off. Luckily, we have enzymes intended to break down histamine in the body, called diamine oxidase (DAO) enzymes. DAO enzymes help prevent a build-up of histamine in the body that causes inflammation. During allergy season, some people experience a higher level of histamine production as a response to their allergies (everyone is different!). During these times, additional histamine in your diet may be giving your DAO enzymes too much extra work, resulting in more allergy symptoms. Lowering the amount of histamine in your diet could provide some relief of mild-moderate allergy symptoms for the spring season.

 

To read more, including about which foods are high in histamine, view the complete blog post at: www.sounddietitians.com/blog/is-my-diet-making-my-allergies-worse.