Are You Raising Your Histamine Levels With These Meat Handling Mistakes? – What to know if you have Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and Histamine Intolerance
Hello, everyone! I’m always looking for new resources and tips to share with you.
This post has some good starter information, but be sure to check out these 2 new blog posts with more up to date information — including additional sources for low histamine meat options.
When you have Histamine Intolerance or Mast Cell Activation Syndrome, food storage and preparation are important for keeping histamine levels in foods low. Especially when it comes to meat.
This is because bacteria grows very quickly on meat.
I’ve seen some of my clients make mistakes when it comes to handling meat. I want to share those with you so you don’t do the same! And I’m also going to share some solutions for the best ways to keep those histamine levels in meats low.
I’ve seen hundreds of clients who were suffering with Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and Histamine Intolerance. When we first evaluated their food diaries, all were making at least one of the mistakes below.
And they all had big improvements once they started following the tips on the best ways to handle meat and fish to keep it low histamine!
So what are the common mistakes and what can you do? Let’s get started with mistake #1.
Most Common Meat Handling Mistakes - What to know for those with Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance
1. Mistake: Buying conventionally raised meat and farmed fish.
Conventionally raised meat and farmed fish can have high levels of antibiotics, toxins, and growth hormones. These can all raise histamine levels.
Further, the animals are raised in stressful conditions. These means they are full of stress hormones.
And they are fed grains. So when you consume these foods, this is getting passed to you. And those things can lead to inflammation in your body when you consume them. This spells bad news for mast cells.
Instead: Buy pasture raised meat and wild caught fish.
Pasture raised means the animals were raised outdoors and fed on grass, not grains (in the case of cattle). They are also raised without growth hormones or antibiotics. This method is more humane for the animals.
And there are many health benefits for you, too. Pasture raised meats and wild caught fish have higher levels of Omega 3s. Omega 3s are good for your mast cells (and help keep histamine lower). And pasture raised meats are also raised without chemicals that wreak havoc on your body.
But it is important to find a reputable source. Some farmers use the term “pasture-raised” lightly. (Note – “natural” and organic meats are still fed grains. Natural and Organic do not mean the same as pasture raised.)
The next tips tell you how to find low histamine, pasture raised meats and low histamine wild caught fish.
2. Mistake: Buying unfrozen meat or fish from the grocery meat department.
Meat and fish build in histamine levels very fast, especially on unfrozen meat and fish. Meat and fish can sit unfrozen at the grocery for a week or more. And who knows how old it was before it made it to the grocery?
Instead: Buy meat as fresh as possible or immediately frozen after slaughter.
I get pasture raised meat from a local farmer who freezes the meat directly after slaughter. It is frozen when I pick it up, and it stays in my freezer until thawing time. This has worked best for me. See #6 for more on how to source low-histamine fish.
3. Mistake: Giving up if you don’t have access to a local farmer.
Having MCAS and/or Histamine Intolerance means we have to work a little harder to source our food. Don’t give up! Your health is worth getting the best protein sources you can for your body.
Instead: Purchase with Northstar Bison
If you don’t have access to a local farmer who freezes right after slaughter, you have a really good online option. Northstar Bison has these low histamine options:
- Unaged Bison
If you can’t buy your meat through option 1 or 2 above, then call the store where you purchase meat. Ask them what day the meat arrives. Let them know you have a health issue and need to buy your meat as fresh as possible. When you arrive at the store, ask for the meat that came in that day.
Remind them you called earlier because of your health issues. Only buy the meat that came in that day. Then either freeze the raw meat or cook the meat right away and freeze the leftovers. Just remember this isn’t as low histamine as buying it frozen after slaughter.
4. Mistake: Buying beef.
Almost all beef is aged. That makes it very high histamine. It is usually best to avoid beef unless you can get it unaged and frozen immediately after slaughter. This is really rare and hard to find.
Instead: Choose pasture-raised, unaged, frozen meats. I like the elk from Northstar as a good beef substitute.
You can also opt for any of the other low histamine meat options. Chicken is a popular favorite.
Anything that isn’t aged will be a lower histamine option than something that is aged.
5. Mistake: Buying ground meats.
Ground meats collect bacteria faster because of increased surface area. I’ve tried ground pork multiple times from my tried and true local farmer. I was hoping that since it was frozen right away, it would be ok. But I reacted badly each time. So skip the pre-ground meats. Even the frozen ones.
Instead: Grind your own meat at home using a meat grinder.
I’ve used the meat grinder attachments that come with my food processor and juicer. What if you don’t have those appliances and still really want breakfast sausage? This meat grinder is a good option and is very affordable.
6. Mistake: Eating Fish
In order to be safe for mast cell and histamine issues – fish and shellfish have to be gutted within 30 minutes after catch. Then the fish has to be frozen on the boat to keep histamine levels down.
Otherwise, fish and seafood are some of the highest histamine foods! Fish and seafood that wasn’t immediately gutted and frozen can be your worst histamine enemy.
Instead: What if you really love fish?
Vital Choice guarantees their King Salmon is gutted and flash frozen on the boat. It is the safest option for those of us with histamine issues. The Sockeye Salmon is caught close to shore and processed quickly. You might try it once you have had significant recovery with histamine sensitivities.
Skip the smoked fish, caviar, and jerky. Vital choice also offers burgers, hot dogs, sausage and bacon all made from fish, but you’ll want to skip these, too, since they are more heavily processed. They do have meat options, too.
7. Mistake: Letting meat or fish sit in the fridge after thawing.
Again, those histamine levels will build quickly. Don’t let meat or fish sit in the fridge after thawing!
Instead: To thaw your meat or fish, let it thaw in the fridge until it is still a little frosty but almost thawed through.
8. Mistake: Keeping leftovers in the fridge.
The bacteria that produce histamines start building right away on leftovers. Even in the fridge. It is worse with meat. But even veggies will build in histamine levels, too.
Instead: Once you cook meat, freeze the leftovers right away.
When I’m done cooking, I make my plate and immediately put all leftovers into glass storage containers and put them in the freezer. This makes a huge difference. Some things, like salads, obviously won’t freeze well. But freeze leftovers as much as possible.
Then thaw your leftovers as you are going to eat them – again you can thaw in the fridge until still a little frosty. Or you can run hot water over it to thaw. Then reheat. I do choose to sometimes use a microwave to thaw my food. It is mainly the radiation from microwaves that are the problem. So I leave the kitchen while the microwave is heating leftovers to avoid the radiation.
9. Mistake: Ordering meat or fish when eating out.
Eating out can be tricky. You never know how old the meat or fish is at a restaurant. You can ask what the freshest choices are among chicken, turkey, pork, and lamb. But even that can be tricky. And it is definitely better to avoid fish and seafood at a restaurant unless it is prepared fresh from a tank. Skip the fish special. Skip the sushi and sashimi.
Instead: I prefer not to risk ordering meat at a restaurant.
I check the menu ahead of time and make a list of my low histamine options. I usually order vegetables. Then, I bring a little container of my thawed, cooked meat in my purse (kept chilled on the way).
Once at the restaurant, I just let the waiter or waitress know I have some food sensitivities. I let them know what I can have from the menu options. If you are polite, restaurants are usually very kind about accommodating food sensitivities. Once my meal arrives, I discreetly add the protein I brought to my plate.
10. Mistake: Stressing out about getting low histamine “right”.
Instead: Don’t let yourself stress about food.
I’m not perfect, and you won’t be either. Just do your best. And be sure to enjoy your low histamine food! 😊
It’s important you know that this blog post is for informational and educational purposes. It’s not meant to treat any health condition or to be prescriptive for anyone. Always be sure to work with your healthcare practitioner.
Before you change your diet on your own, please make sure you’re working with a healthcare practitioner who can help you with this.
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