Are you Raising your Histamine Levels with these Meat Handling Mistakes?
When you have Histamine Intolerance or Mast Cell Activation Syndrome, you want to make sure you store and prepare meat in specific ways to keep the histamine levels low. This is because bacteria grows very quickly on meat.
These are the most common Meat Handling Mistakes I see my clients make. But it wouldn’t be fair to just tell you about mistakes. Each mistake also has tips on the best ways to keep those histamine levels low in meats.
I’ve seen hundreds of clients who were suffering with MCAS and Histamine Intolerance – all were making at least one of the mistakes below. They all had big improvements with following the tips on the best ways to handle meat and fish to keep it low histamine.
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 that you then consume with the meat. They are also fed grains that make the meat or fish inflammatory. This spells bad news for mast cells.
Instead: Buy pasture raised meat and wild caught fish.
Pasture raised means the animals were raised outdoors on grass. They are also raised without growth hormones or antibiotics. This method is certainly more humane for the animals. There are many other health benefits too. Pasture raised meats and wild caught fish have higher levels of Omega 3s that are good for your mast cells (and help keep histamine lower).
Pasture raised meats are also raised without chemicals that wreck havoc on your body. It is important to find a reputable source, since some farmers use the term “pasture-raised” lightly. (Note – “natural” and organic meats are still fed grains. Natural and Organic does 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 at 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 and 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: If you don’t have access to a local farmer who freezes right after slaughter, you have a really good online option. US Wellness Meats* has pastured chicken, turkey, and rabbit that are frozen right after slaughter. (Their bison and pork are chilled but not frozen, so may be higher histamine.) They have good prices too.
If you just can’t buy your meat through option 1 or 2 above, then call the store where you purchase meat and ask what day the meat arrives. Let them know you have a health issue with histamines and have to buy your meat as fresh as possible. When you arrive, ask for the meat that came in that day. Remind them that you called earlier about histamine 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 making it very high histamine. So 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, frozen chicken, pork, lamb, mutton, and turkey.
These won’t be aged and will be lower histamine if handles properly.
5. Mistake: Buying ground meats.
Ground meats collect bacteria faster because of increased surface area. I’ve tried the 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, so 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. Also skip the processed fish options: burgers, hot dogs, sausage and bacon. (They have meat options too, but the prices are much higher than US Wellness Meats. So I suggest Vital Choice* for fish and US Wellness Meats* for meat.)
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.
Or for smaller cuts of meat, you can run hot water over it until thawed. An Instant Pot can cook meat that is frozen solid to done in usually 45 to 90 minutes.
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 really does make 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 don’t ever 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”.
Sometimes my clients worry so much about controlling everything with their food that they make things worse. If you’ve read my free report The 7 Root Causes of MCAS, you know stress increases mast cell problems. (If you haven’t read it, you can get it here.)
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! 🙂
*Some links in this website are affiliate links, which means I may make a very small commission if you purchase through the link. It never costs you any more to purchase through the links, and I try to find the best deals I can. I only recommend products that I love and use personally or use in my practice. Any commissions help support the newsletter, website, and ongoing research so I can continue to offer you free tips, recipes, and info. Thank you for your support!