How to do a Low Histamine Diet for Histamine Intolerance and Mast Cell Activation Syndrome Part 2: What to Eat
Many of my clients with Histamine Intolerance or Mast Cell Activation Syndrome see the high histamine food lists online and feel like there is nothing left to eat. This simply isn’t true, though.
There are so many nutritious and flavorful foods you can eat. It is easy to feel deprived if you just focus on the foods you can’t have. This is a sure road to feeling angry, resentful, and depressed. They key is to think about how much eating fresh, nutritious foods will improve your health.
Remember, you don’t just want to eliminate foods. This is a recipe for disaster in the long term. Whittling your food list down to just a handful of foods can make both Histamine Intolerance and Mast Cell Activation Syndrome worse. This is because you lose needed nutrients to keep histamine levels low and stabilize mast cells.
Whenever you take a food out, be sure to add a food in. For example, if you take out spinach, add in arugula. If you stop eating avocados, consider adding in Extra Virgin Avocado Oil like Olivado Organic Avocado Oil.
WHAT to eat on a Low Histamine diet for Histamine Intolerance and Mast Cell Activation Syndrome
If you missed it, be sure to read Part 1 online here on Identifying High Histamine Foods:
For Low Histamine eating, focus on choosing the foods that are healing and that you enjoy. Sometimes, it is good to splurge on yourself. I don’t mean buying a chocolate cake. I mean by spending a little extra time in the kitchen making something healthy and delicious for yourself.
Be sure you are eating fresh, whole, nutrient dense foods. As produce ages, it loses nutrition and increases in histamine levels. The fresher your foods are, the more vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants they have. When you have Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance, you need as many nutrients from healthy foods as you can get.
These nutrients support a healthy immune system. They are also necessary to make histamine degrading enzymes, like DAO and HNMT. So, they also have the added bonus of helping to lower histamine. Be sure to buy your produce as fresh as possible. If you can, get produce at the farmer’s market or even grow your own for the most nutrient dense options. The book Eating on the Wild Side by Jo Robinson is a great resource on the highest nutrient varieties of fruits and vegetables.
Let’s take a look at WHAT to eat on a Low Histamine diet for Histamine Intolerance and Mast Cell Activation Syndrome
Emphasize vegetables on a Low Histamine diet for Histamine Intolerance and Mast Cell Activation Syndrome
Cover most of your plate with vegetables. Yes, this means lots of vegetables. Vegetables have nutrients and antioxidants you need to heal. These are histamine lowering, low oxalate, low lectin vegetables you can emphasize.
- Bok choy
- Brussels sprouts
- Cabbage, Green and Red
- Kale (flat dinosaur or lacinato kind – curly is high oxalate)
- Napa cabbage / Chinese cabbage
You can also try:
- Onions – any kind
- Scallions (green onions – especially use green parts)
- Daikon radishes
- Romaine, red and green leaf lettuce
- Dandelion greens
- Butter lettuce
- Mustard greens
- Perilla (Shiso).
If you don’t have trouble with oxalates, you can also add in:
- Sweet Potatoes
Protein on a Low Histamine diet for Histamine Intolerance and Mast Cell Activation Syndrome
You want to eat moderate amounts of clean protein. If you eat meat, protein should come from pastured-meats like chicken, pork, lamb, and turkey. Be careful with beef, which is aged.
Make sure meat is very fresh. You can call the butcher and ask what day the meat is delivered. Check the sell by dates and make sure you get the freshest packages. Other good options for pasture-raised meats are farmers markets, US Wellness Meats, and Vital Choice.
Vital Choice is a great fish source because they guarantee their fish is low in mercury, pollutants, and radiation contamination. They also ensure the fish is gutted and frozen immediately after catch.
If you try their fish, be sure to try just a small amount first to make sure you don’t react. People with both Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and Histamine Intolerance may still have a hard time with fish and may need to take a DAO Enzyme.
Cook or freeze meat and fish right away to prevent histamine levels from rising. I cook meat while it is still a little frosty to keep histamine levels low. Avoid slow cooking, which allows histamine levels to go up.
Pasture-raised chicken, duck, or quail eggs are also a good protein source. Some people react to eggs. So, test them for yourself. Be sure to cook egg whites thoroughly. Legumes can cause histamine release and are also high oxalate and high lectin. So, you may need to be careful with these.
Read all about Meat Handling Tips to keep your meat Low Histamine here:
Are you Raising your Histamine Levels with these Meat Handling Mistakes?
Fats on a Low Histamine diet for Histamine Intolerance and Mast Cell Activation Syndrome
Healthy fats are needed for overall health too. Be sure you are getting enough good fats. Fats are necessary for healthy brain cells and to make your hormones. Also, some vitamins are fat soluble. This means they are best absorbed when eaten with fats. So, add healthy fats to your vegetables to absorb the most nutrition.
Healthy fat sources include: grass fed butter, very fresh extra-virgin olive oil, virgin coconut oil, grass fed ghee, cold-pressed flax oil, cold pressed avocado oil, and unrefined palm oil. Avoid canola oil, corn oil, safflower oil, and peanut oil. These are inflammatory.
Fresh nuts can be a good source of protein and fat. Walnuts, peanuts, and cashews are likely off the list for you because of their high histamine levels. There are still plenty of other nuts you can enjoy though. Low histamine, low oxalate, and low lectin choices are: flax seeds, macadamias, pistachios, coconut, and pecans in moderation.
If you don’t have oxalate issues, you can also enjoy almonds (blanched to remove lectins in the skin), hazelnuts, pine nuts, sesame seeds, Brazil nuts (only 3-4/day), hemp seeds, and hemp protein powder.
Buy nuts as fresh as possible. To make them more digestible, soak them overnight in salt water. Then dry in a food dehydrator or oven at 250 degrees. You can also make your own fresh nut butters using a VitaMix or Blendtec blender.
Herbs on a Low Histamine diet for Histamine Intolerance and Mast Cell Activation Syndrome
Season with a lot of fresh herbs. Fresh herbs are some of the highest nutrient and antioxidant foods. Cultures that use a lot of fresh herbs live longer than those that don’t use herbs. Plus, adding herbs to your meals will give them more flavor. If you enjoy your foods, you’ll be more likely to stick to making healthy choices. These are great Histamine Lowering herbs:
- Basil – any type
- Garlic chives
- Pink peppercorns
- Thyme (thyme does affect people with benzoate sensitivity, though)
Avoid or restrict anise, cinnamon, cloves, curry powder, paprika, and nutmeg. These can liberate histamine and cause mast cell reactions.
Fruits on a Low Histamine diet for Histamine Intolerance and Mast Cell Activation Syndrome
Fruits should be eaten as a dessert. This is due to the higher sugar content. Spikes in blood sugar affect the mast cells. Prioritize lower sugar berries like blueberries. Tart cherries and green apples are also good choices. Lemons and limes are ok, if you tolerate them. As your Histamine bucket empties out, you can enjoy raspberries too.
If you don’t have trouble with oxalates, blackberries are lower in sugar.
Other lower histamine, low oxalate fruits are:
- all types of apples
- fresh apricots
- fresh cranberries
- fresh currant
- fresh figs
- grapes (especially black)
Grains on a Low Histamine diet for Histamine Intolerance and Mast Cell Activation Syndrome
Some people with Histamine Intolerance and Mast Cell Activation Syndrome do better with carbs and some do worse. You have to experiment to find what works best for you. I find grains increase my inflammation. I do better with lower levels of carbs. I think this is because many grains are high lectin and high oxalate. But going too low carb keeps me from sleeping. Finding your own optimal carb intake takes a little trial and error.
If you feel worse reducing carbs, then you need to work with a Functional Practitioner to find out why. You could have something called Heme Dysregulation. So don’t push through until you know what is happening! I’ll write about this more sometime in the future.
If you aren’t allergic to latex, then you might be able to use the flour of the cassava root as a carb. I use this to make tortillas and pizza crusts. You can get my recipe here:
If you get cassava, be sure to buy Otto’s brand Cassava Flour. It is the only one that isn’t fermented. I’ve reacted to all the other brands. Also, some brands of cassava flour are higher oxalate. Otto’s seems to be medium oxalate. But it hasn’t been tested yet. So go a little slowly if you have oxalate issues.
You can try these sources of low lectin, low oxalate carbs too:
- Tigernut flour (Gemini Organics is a good brand)
- Organic Flax meal
- Hi-maize resistant starch
- Coconut and coconut flour
- Miracle Shirataki noodles
- Sorghum grain (limit to 1/2 cup cooked, if you have oxalate issues)
- Authentic Foods Sorghum flour (limit to 1/2 cup cooked, if you have oxalate issues)
If oxalates aren’t a problem, then these are some more low lectin and histamine-lowering, great carb choices:
- Sweet Potatoes
- Celery Root
Note: If you get gas, bloating, or other GI symptoms with grains, fruits, and vegetables, you may very well have SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth), candida, or mold gut infections. In this case, you’ll want to avoid these foods for the short term and get evaluated by a Functional Practitioner. If you need help, you can set something up with me here.
Sweeteners on a Low Histamine diet for Histamine Intolerance and Mast Cell Activation Syndrome
Sweeteners should be kept to a minimum if you have Histamine Intolerance or Mast Cell Activation Syndrome. This is because increases in blood sugar can cause inflammation. And inflammation increases mast cell reactions and increases in histamine levels.
Here are some good sweetener options that don’t affect blood sugar, though. These are:
- Stevia – Better Stevia is a good brand
- Monk fruit – watch for additives like erythritol. I like Smart Monk Organic or Nu Naturals
Stevia and Monk Fruit come from plants. Our bodies don’t metabolize them like sugar. Be sure you get stevia and monk fruit without other additives. Often, they have sugar alcohols added, which isn’t good for Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance. So, you have to check the ingredients.
You can also use coconut sugar in moderation for a treat. Coconut sugar affects blood sugar more slowly than regular sugar. Honey, molasses, and maple syrup do have some good nutrients. They also have a big impact on blood sugar, so use sparingly. I only have coconut sugar, honey, molasses or maple syrup on very special occasions like my birthday.
You want to be sure to avoid sugar, artificial sweeteners, and corn syrup. These are very inflammatory.
Handling Leftovers on a Low Histamine diet for Histamine Intolerance and Mast Cell Activation Syndrome
Leftovers build in histamine quickly. You’ll want to freeze your leftovers if they are going to be kept more than a 4-6 hours in the fridge. I always make a double batch of whatever I’m cooking. Then I freeze the leftovers in single serving containers. This makes it easy to pull out to take for lunch or have for dinner after a busy day.
For lunches, I put the frozen meal in my lunchbox. By lunch time, it is usually mostly thawed. You can also thaw foods by running hot water over the container. Then reheat in a pan or toaster oven. Sometimes, in a pinch you might have to use a microwave. I just trust that my nutrient dense foods outweigh any negatives of occasional microwave use. You want to leave the room when the microwave is running to avoid the EMFs.
Also, store leftovers in glass not plastic. This avoids chemicals from plastics leaching into food.
More Ideas for What to Eat on a Low Histamine diet for Histamine Intolerance and Mast Cell Activation Syndrome
Sample Meal Ideas:
You can also find all the Low Histamine, Low Oxalate, Low Lectin recipes on my website here:
What to do next if you have Histamine Intolerance and Mast Cell Activation Syndrome
Keep in mind that foods are only one of the 7 Most Common Root Triggers in Histamine Intolerance and Mast Cell Activation Syndrome. Working on your foods is a critical step. And you will need to identify and address all your underlying Root Triggers in order to heal.
You can get the free report on the 7 Most Common Root Triggers in Mast Cell Activation Syndrome below – they are the same Root Triggers for Histamine Intolerance.
Histamine Intolerance and Mast Cell Activation Syndrome can be really complex. I had to deal with both of these myself, and it took me years to figure out what I needed to do. This is because I didn’t have a practitioner who fully knew how to help me.
I had to become a Mast Cell and Histamine expert to be able to recover my health. I’ve learned a ton in dealing with this. And I’ve mapped out how to help you get well, too. If you need help, I’m only a click away.