Do you need to worry about Oxalates and Lectins with Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and Histamine Intolerance?
I have both Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and Histamine Intolerance. It took me a long time to find the diet that worked best for me. Before I knew what Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and Histamine Intolerance were, I was already cleaning up my diet.
I had removed processed foods, additives, preservatives, and colorings. Then, I transitioned to gluten and dairy free and followed this for a long time. (I do still eat ghee and butter, though.) I still had a lot of symptoms, though. I had:
- Severe fatigue
- Urinary pain and burning
- Joint pain and burning
- Muscle pain and burning
- Anxiety and depression
- Constant itching
- Severe insomnia
I was really miserable. But I knew that foods were a big part of the picture for me. Even though I was eating what very much would be considered “healthy,” I was eating a lot of foods that were making me worse. In fact, food triggers are one of the most common Root Causes in Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and Histamine Intolerance.
I had already stopped eating wheat, dairy, soy, and even eggs. To help myself get better, I tackled Histamine foods next. I had been eating a ton of ferments like fermented veggies, kombucha, and kefir. I also had been eating ground meats, spinach, tomatoes, strawberries, and pineapple.
When I reduced the High Histamine foods, I noticed some good changes like less itching and I could sleep a little better. But I still had a lot of symptoms left. Food triggers in Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and Histamine Intolerance for many go beyond histamine. And they certainly did for me.
Additional food triggers in Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and Histamine Intolerance can include Oxalates and Lectins.
Histamines in Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and Histamine Intolerance
You probably know already to avoid high histamine foods when you have Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and Histamine Intolerance. This is because the histamine foods can trigger your mast cells, making your symptoms worse. If you are new to learning about high histamine foods, you should read this post:
There are many conflicting Histamine Foods lists online. And I don’t agree with 95% of them. This is because they aren’t based on research. You can download my carefully researched Low Histamine Foods list here:
Oxalates in Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and Histamine Intolerance
Oxalates are molecules found in plants. Plants use them as a defense mechanism to keep animals from eating them. Oxalates look like tiny razor blades under a microscope. There are different levels of oxalates in different plants. Some plants are high oxalate, some are low oxalate, and some are medium oxalate.
Other types of organisms make oxalates too. You make oxalates in your own bodies. There are some genetic predispositions that can cause people to produce more oxalates than normal. This can greatly increase the risk of kidney stones. Yeast and mold create oxalates as well. Yeast and mold overgrowth in the body often contributes to high oxalates. You can have oxalate issues from leaky gut as well.
The most well-known oxalate health issue is kidney stones. It is actually fairly rare for oxalates to cause kidney stones. They tend to cause other types of health problems, instead, like:
- joint pain
- muscle pain (think Fibromyalgia)
- urinary burning and pain, interstitial cystitis (often misdiagnosed as UTI)
- sandy stool, burning stool
- brain inflammation
- trouble eating sulfur foods like broccoli and cauliflower
- autism like symptoms
- breast cancer
You also make oxalates in your body and some people genetically make too much. Mold and candida species also form oxalates. If you have problems with mold or candida, you are likely to have an oxalate issue. Oxalates also trigger the mast cells to produce more inflammation. And this spells higher histamine levels too.
Several years ago, my joints would get so painful that I had to walk with a cane. It was excruciating. I felt like I had ground glass in my joints. I was misdiagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis, and the meds never really helped. Plus, the side effects of these meds were bad. When I realized I actually had an oxalate issue, it was a life-changer!
When I changed my diet to lower oxalate, I stopped feeling like I was urinating razor blades. As I went along, I got rid of the pain. Today, my joint pain is pretty much gone unless I eat too many high oxalate foods at a time.
Not everyone has an oxalate problem. But if you have any of the above symptoms, this is something to have on your radar. I assess all my clients for oxalate issues during my Mast Cell 360 Root Cause Analysis Case Review. I take a look at symptoms, the right labs, and genetics to check for the likelihood of oxalate issues.
Here are some of the highest oxalate foods:
- Sweet Potatoes
- Swiss Chard
The oxalate lists online are very confusing. Like the histamine foods lists, they are rarely based in research. Or they misunderstood the research. I don’t agree with 99% of the online oxalate foods list. For example, many list blueberries as high oxalate. But research has shown that blueberries are definitely lower oxalate.
I give clients with oxalate issues my well-researched, cross-referenced Low Histamine, Low Oxalate foods list. I haven’t made this list public yet. Because I don’t want people limiting their foods unnecessarily. Also, reducing oxalates has to be done very SLOWLY to not cause oxalate dumping.
So, it is best done with the guidance of a health care practitioner who really understands how to support someone in lowering their oxalate foods. And if you have Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance, make sure your health care practitioner is an experienced expert in these areas, so they don’t make you worse.
If you need help in this area, I’m just a click away. You can set up time for us to work together here: Mast Cell 360 Root Cause Analysis Case Review
Lectins in Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and Histamine Intolerance
There are different types of lectins and some are more problematic in Mast Cell Activation Syndrome than others. Lectins are in really high concentrations in some plants and in lower concentrations in other plants. Some lectins, like those in grains, potatoes, tomatoes, squashes, and legumes can affect the mast cells. Some of these lectins are quite notorious for triggering mast cell reactions and higher histamine levels. This isn’t good news when you have Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and Histamine Intolerance.
Here are some of the top triggering lectin foods:
Lectins only started getting more attention around 2017. I started working on lowering my lectin levels in 2017 after a car accident set off a terrible mast cell cascade. My joints had gotten much better eating lower oxalate. But I was having a lot of joint burning. It really felt like my joints were on fire. I was desperate to feel better. And my diet was already really clean at that point. So, I decided it was time to look into the lectin piece more.
When I reduced my lectins, the joint burning was gone in 2 weeks. It was really incredible! To make sure it was really the lectins causing the joint burning, I had to test my theory. A couple months later, I tried eating high lectin foods again. The joint burning came right back. Still today, every time I reintroduce high lectin foods like tomatoes, corn, or butternut squash, my joint burning returns.
Before you run out and grab a Low Lectin Foods list, though, I want you to know 2 things.
- The Low Lectin Foods lists online contain a lot of high histamine and high oxalate foods.
- You may not have a problem with all the lectins on the list.
I’m a big fan of keeping as much variety in the diet as possible. This is because variety in diet is linked to much better health and longevity. Also, limiting your diet too much can lead to another of the common Root Causes in Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and Histamine Intolerance – nutrient imbalances.
So, before you rush out to start eating Low Lectin, you might want to sit down with an expert like me to see if it makes sense for you. And also, to find out how you can determine which lectins you have trouble with.
Fortunately, there is now a Lectin Zoomer test available through Vibrant that can help determine if you are reacting to Lectins and even which ones. This test needs to be interpreted in reference to your total IgG and IgA levels, so be sure you work with a practitioner who knows how to interpret this test for you.
Figuring out Your Individual Food Sensitivities when you have Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance
With Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance, you may have to work on more than just reducing high histamine foods. You may have to explore oxalates and lectins too. I recommend everyone who has Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance get help finding out if they have issues with oxalates or lectins.
I learned I personally feel best eating lower histamine, lower lectin, and lower oxalate foods. But I clearly have oxalate and lectin issues in addition to histamine intolerance. Not everyone has to be low oxalate or low lectin. Identifying your personal food triggers can go a long way toward helping you feel better.
One of the hardest things I have found in figuring out your food sensitivities on your own is that so many food lists online are contradictory. At worse, they aren’t based on research at all. Many of these lists seem to copy and paste from a bunch of other unreliable lists online.
It is really a Wild West out there of foods lists. I had to do a TON of research to put together my Histamine, Oxalate, and Lectin foods lists.
Fortunately, there is good testing available now to see if you are sensitive to lectins or may have an oxalate issue. Genetic, lab, and symptom interpretation can help determine if you may have problems with oxalates and lectins.
You may have other food triggers beyond these as well. You may need help looking at glutamates and salicylates. Or you may need Food Antigen testing to look for food sensitivities.
As a quick aside – I don’t recommend the food sensitivity testing you can buy for yourself online. These tests aren’t very reliable, and your money is better spent on the higher quality Food Antigen testing labs available through your Functional Practitioner that don’t cost much more.
It is important to work with an experienced Functional Practitioner on your food triggers, so you don’t eliminate foods unnecessarily. When people eliminate too many foods, they can become nutrient deficient and end up making Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and Histamine Intolerance much worse in the long run.
So, make sure you are working with a Functional Practitioner who is very familiar with how to assess if you need to eliminate groups of foods.
Variety in your diet is very important for optimal health. You don’t want to eliminate more foods than necessary. Once you have identified your Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance food triggers, you’ll need to ask your practitioner for a cross referenced list.
If your Functional Practitioner doesn’t specialize in this area, you can schedule a consult with me for personalized 1:1 help identifying your own individual food triggers and building your safe foods list.
Healing foods are the foundation of recovering from Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance. I always start with a conversation about foods with my clients who have Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance. This post gives you the steps to start to make good food choices for yourself.
If you have Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance, though, food changes are rarely enough on their own. There are many more root causes for Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and Histamine Intolerance beyond food. If you’re worried or overwhelmed about Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance, you may feel afraid that you’re never going to feel well again.
Don’t worry, though. Figuring out the root causes underlying your Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance will give you a road map to healing.
You can learn more about those root causes here:
Root Causes in Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and Histamine Intolerance
References about role of Oxalates and Lectins in Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and Histamine Intolerance
Barbosa-Lorenzi, V., Buranello, P., Roque-Barreira, M., Jamur, M., Oliver, C., & Pereira-da-Silva, G. (2011). The lectin ArtinM binds to mast cells inducing cell activation and mediator release. Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications, 318-324.
Lopes, F., Cavada, B., Pinto, V., Sampaio, A., & Gomes, J. (2005). Differential effect of plant lectins on mast cells of different origins. Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research, 935-941.
Owens, S. (n.d.). Conditions & Research. Retrieved July 14, 2019, from Low Oxalate Diet: http://lowoxalate.info/research.html
Pramod, S. N., Venkatesh, Y. P., & Mahesh, P. A. (2007). Potato lectin activates basophils and mast cells of atopic subjects by its interaction with core chitobiose of cell-bound non-specific immunoglobulin E. Clinical and Experimental Immunology, 391–401.