When I was first diagnosed with histamine intolerance, I just wanted to know what I needed to do so I could just do it. I wanted a list.
But it was not that simple.
There were several histamine intolerance lists from several credible sources.
The problem was that no one list was the same and contained conflicting information.
This led me to develop my histamine intolerance food list, which has now been downloaded over 50,000 times and is actively used by many nutritionists.
The Insider’s Guide to The Low Histamine Food List
This is my list which you can download for free.
The list attempts to draw on the advantages of the various lists and address their shortfalls. It has been compiled by categorizing foods by degree using:
Histamine focus – focused on histamine alone to rule in or out histamine intolerance,
Histamine levels – provides histamine levels for individual foods to enable an elimination diet and histamine thresholds to be established,
Scientific test results – from the raw ALBA data (from a paid scientific database), not just individual personal experiences,
Clinical experience – the SIGHI and RPAH Allergy Unit data has been used to verify these results, and
Differences – where there were differences between the scientific data, and the clinical experience, an underlying cause was identified and resolved concerning the scientific literature.
It remains my preference to establish food intolerances one at a time. Eliminating too many foods has wide-ranging effects on the microbiome and our body’s metabolic processes.
Comparison of Other Food Lists
Dr. Janice Joneja
Dr. Joneja is a registered dietician with a Ph.D. in medical microbiology and immunology.
She has over thirty years of experience, nearly half as the head of the Allergy Nutrition Program at the Vancouver Hospital and Health Sciences Centre.
Dr. Janice Joneja’s list eliminates histamines and a second amine (tyramine).
This list is simple to follow and gives general food groups, making logical choices easier.
It was an excellent place to start, giving me time to get my bearings, but it quickly proved inadequate.
The list of foods covered was limited, and the list did not divide foods between amounts of histamine to make establishing individual thresholds easier.
RPA Allergy Unit List
The Royal Prince Alfred Hospital’s list eliminates histamines, salicylates, amines, glutamates, sulfites, food colorings, and other artificial additives.
The diet is based on extensive ongoing trials within a renowned hospital allergy unit. The RPA Allergy Unit is considered a world expert on salicylates.
The diet introduces the concept of histamines in food primarily related to the quality and age of food, not the food itself. This is a vital concept often overlooked.
It also emphasizes that this is not about eliminating all histamines but finding your tolerance level. The lists provide comprehensive lists of foods divided into low, moderate, high, and very high levels. Most lists overlook this, which I have addressed in my list.
Unfortunately, the list has several fundamental issues, which makes it unhelpful in my experience.
They exclude all chemicals (not just histamines), which in my opinion, excludes far too many foods (and does not enable you to determine whether the issue is histamine intolerance).
This elimination diet is heavy on sugar, carbohydrates, legumes, and processed foods. However, these foods are inflammatory to a damaged gut. Hundreds of autonomic response tests show a direct correlation between gut damage and lectin intolerance.
It is also a highly restrictive elimination diet that is difficult to follow and unnecessary if you don’t have other intolerances. Eliminating too many foods has downstream effects on the microbiome.
I personally comprehensively failed this so-called failsafe diet. I failed because of the grains and legumes (a large part of the failsafe diet). That lead me to Dr. Moneret-Vautrin’s list.
Dr. Moneret-Vautrin is a French professor of Medicine specializing in allergies and immunology.
She is highly published in histamine intolerance but is relatively unknown in English-speaking countries.
Dr. Moneret-Vautrin’s diet is similar to Dr. Joneja’s, with one exception.
It introduces the idea of foods that result in histamine synthesis in the gut (such as grains and legumes).
Hundreds of autonomic response tests show a direct correlation between gut damage and lectin intolerance. I believe that this is highly relevant.
Does it mean there is a direct correlation between histamine intolerance and lectin intolerance? No. However, lectin tolerance is a separate issue that needs to be addressed and can easily be tested as it is not a thresshold issue.
It is my practice to establish food intolerances (including lectins first) through autonomic response testing and then (and only then) establish a histamine thresshold.
The Swiss Interest Group
The Swiss Interest Group is a not-for-profit group run by volunteers.
The Swiss Interest Group Histamine Intolerance (SIGHI) list is also available as a histamine intolerance app.
The benefit of this list is that it is based on a survey of around 600 real people. It means that the foods are likely to have come from a variety of sources and also tested by eating them rather than in a lab.
The downside of this app is that it is based on real people who may have different underlying health conditions. At best, therefore, the histamine classifications are averages.
The app does not allow you to personalize the list based on your experience.
Food Intolerances App By Baliza
The Food Intolerance app uses published research as the source of its information. The research is referenced with a hyperlink.
The app is impressive.
It allows you to filter foods into low, medium, high, and very high for histamines and a wide range of macro-nutrients.
Got lactose intolerance? There’s a filter for that. Got glucose issues? There’s a filter for that too. Fructose intolerance. Yep.
Even more importantly, the app allows you to alter the individual ranking of foods and make personal notes based on your bio-individuality. What you end up with is a personalized, portable food list.
Histamine Intolerance by Ostec App
ALBA, Allergen dataBAnk, and TNO Nutrition & Food Research have all conducted laboratory experiments, testing the precise level of amines within foods.
The ALBA list appears to be used in the Histamine Intolerance app by Ostec.
The app allows you to filter foods, whether they are DAO inhibitors, vitamin B6 antagonists, HNMT inhibitors, mast cell degranulation, or that have lectins, gluten, or lactose.
This distinction may be necessary because histamine intolerance can be caused by either a DAO mutation (degrading extra-cellular histamine) or an HNMT mutation (destabilizing intra-cellular histamine). I dio not find that I needed to go to this level of detail to get answers.
When you go into each food, you can see the amount of amine type (not just histamine). This may be useful if your problem is not so much with histamines but with other amines. My problem was with histamines, so I did not need this level of detail.
The downside of the app is its usability. You need to go into each food to see the amine level of the food (that is that it does not contain a traffic light system, nor does it allow you to filter by type of amine).
This, at best, makes the app an advanced “troubleshooting” resource.
So which list should you choose?
The answer is paradoxically any one of them, as they are all credible sources, and paradoxically none of them.
Their value is in using the list as a framework to observe your own body and develop your bio-individual list. So pick the one that resonates with you and start there.
Any food list you choose must be personalized for your own experience.
Please also do not simply eliminate foods. Food is not the issue and can have wide-ranging consequences for the gut microbiome and the body’s metabolic processes. If you can only eat a handful of foods, please consider that it is not the food.
Please also work with a functional health practitioner to identify the underlying cause. Histamine intolerance and food intolerances can be resolved.
To learn more about hacking histamine intolerance food lists, check out my blog post, Safe Food Handling and Histamine Intolerance.