Low Histamine Diet Plan for Mast Cell Activation Syndrome
I wish I’d known about the low histamine diet plan earlier in my life. I’ve had both Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and Histamine Intolerance since early childhood.
I didn’t know I was suffering from these conditions, though.
I have so many memories of summers spent snapping green beans. Then, my mom would cook them for dinner.
I ate a lot of processed meats like hot dogs and Spam growing up, too.
I didn’t really like it, so I’d cover the Spam in canned pineapple to be able to choke it down.
But I’d end up itching and sneezing all night. And I’d have trouble breathing, poor sleep, acid reflux, and stomach aches.
I was an early adopter of making bone broths, spinach smoothies, and my own ferments.
I had kombucha, kefir, kimchi, sourdough, and raw sauerkraut happily fermenting in my kitchen year round.
I thought I was doing the healthiest things for my body. But I still didn’t know about Histamine Intolerance. So, I didn’t know that all these healthy foods were contributing to my health issues.
I was consuming too much histamine! Eating foods with high histamine levels was making symptoms like itching, acid reflux, migraines, IBS, and insomnia much worse!
These symptoms are common with both Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (MCAS) and Histamine Intolerance. I know that now!
Now that I know about Histamine Intolerance and MCAS, I know how a low histamine diet can help alleviate some of the most miserable symptoms.
That’s why one of the first steps of the MC360™ method involves stabilizing with a low histamine diet plan.
Changing my diet made a big difference. And it’s helped so many Mast Cell 360 clients, too.
Low Histamine Diet Plan List
This blog post will give you my Mast Cell 360 Low Histamine Foods List.
If you have or suspect you have MCAS or Histamine Intolerance, you may want to give a low histamine diet a try.
I’ve carefully developed this Mast Cell 360 starter low histamine diet plan list to help those with Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and Histamine Intolerance.
Even though you’ll likely have to make some changes to your diet, I don’t want you to see this as an elimination diet.
It’s always better to focus on what you can have. You can use this list to find tasty, low histamine foods to eat in place of high histamine foods.
With my Low Histamine Foods List, you’ll find options to replace:
- High histamine foods
- Histamine liberating foods (cause histamine release in your body)
- Foods that block Diamine Oxidase (histamine-degrading enzyme)
This list also emphasizes foods that are highly nutritious and help lower histamine levels.
For example, cauliflower, onions, and blueberries are high nutrient foods that have antihistamine properties.
This list is different than some you’ll find online.
Keep reading to learn why.
Why You Shouldn’t Use Most of the Online Low Histamine Diet Plans If You Have Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance
If you’ve been researching the low histamine diet, you know there are a lot out there. Unfortunately, 95% of the histamine foods lists I’ve seen online have a lot of errors. Many are just copying from others and making the same mistakes.
Many lists only include high histamine foods. But a low histamine diet plan is more complicated than that.
These other lists don’t include foods that are histamine liberators or foods that block Diamine Oxidase (DAO) – one of the major histamine degrading enzymes. This is why most low histamine diet lists online don’t work for most people with Histamine Intolerance.
I’ve seen low histamine foods lists that allowed walnuts, a well-known histamine liberator. I’ve seen others that didn’t allow blueberries. But blueberries are known to be histamine lowering, and are low histamine.
It’s also confusing because some foods may be slightly higher histamine. But they contain a lot of quercetin that lowers histamine. So, it balances out.
Related Post: The Best Quercetin Supplements for MCAS
A good example of that is raspberries. I’ve found most people with Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance can tolerate a few raspberries – around ¼ cup.
Another problem is that much of the histamine food research is flawed.
Some histamine foods lists were created by listing every food someone in a study reacted to. But those reactions may not have been due to histamines alone. They could have been allergic reactions.
They could also have been related to other food sensitivities like oxalate, etc. And many of those studies didn’t even control for reactions to things like salicylates, oxalates, and other food sensitivities. So, the lists became far too limited.
Some histamine foods lists include a lot of high sugar or packaged foods in the “safe” column. But processed foods (even gluten-free!) can make MCAS and Histamine Intolerance worse over time!
I wanted this low histamine diet plan to be the best possible for you if you have Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and Histamine Intolerance.
So, I used the most reliable research available. I also included my own clinical experience from talking with thousands of people with Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and Histamine Intolerance over the years.
Now, as you work on your low histamine diet plan, it’s important to know that everyone has a different level of tolerance or intolerance.
More on that next.
The Sink Metaphor
Why is it that some people with Histamine Intolerance can eat a few strawberries and be fine, but another person end up with massive reactions?
That’s because each person’s level of tolerance or intolerance is different.
Here’s an analogy I think will help.
Is your sink overflowing?
Think about histamine levels working like a sink.
The water flowing is histamine. The drain is your body’s way of getting rid of histamine.
You might be able to eat lots of high histamine foods if your body can process histamine effectively.
In other words, you can have water running in your sink at full blast, but if your drain is working, you don’t have any problems.
But what if you have a clogged drain? What if your body doesn’t produce enough histamine degrading enzymes to keep up with your histamine levels? Your sink overflows. And that’s a problem because now you’ve got water seeping over onto your floors and causing all kinds of issues.
Same with histamine. You’ve got too much and now your body may be reacting to this overabundance of histamine in your system.
So, if you eat one strawberry and your sink is already full of water, that one strawberry might be just enough to cause the sink to overflow.
But if you have your histamine levels under control (your sink is empty), you might be able to eat one strawberry without any problems.
Your histamine load isn’t just due to foods you eat, though.
Your histamine levels can also be higher due to:
- Exposure to seasonal allergens
- Mold exposure
- Fluctuating hormones
- Mast Cell Activation
- And more
That means that if you have any of the above issues, those are filling up your sink, too.
But making good food choices can help keep your sink from overflowing if you are dealing with any of those issues, too.
Don’t Limit Your Diet Forever
You don’t want to limit your diet indefinitely.
Variety in your diet helps to prevent nutrient deficiencies. So, it’s a good idea to work with someone who can help be sure you aren’t too restricted with your foods.
I was once down to a very small number of foods I could tolerate. I wasn’t able to eat even some low histamine foods. And I couldn’t eat in restaurants at all.
It has taken a lot of work to get a variety of foods back in my diet.
I’ve almost completely healed the underlying root triggers that were causing my histamine sink to overflow.
I can now eat everything on the low histamine foods list! I can also eat small amounts of higher histamine foods like firm avocado, a couple squares of dark chocolate, and even a small handful of walnuts.
My biggest win is I can eat 1 half pound of strawberries at a time now. Strawberries are my favorite! I’m also eating mushrooms, sausage, and bacon.
I can even eat out (mindfully) without major reactions.
I do still stay mindful of my histamine levels. I don’t load up on too many high histamine foods at once.
It’s wonderful to be able to eat a variety of foods, now. I want this for you, too!
So, what’s your next step?
Keep reading to learn what steps private clients of Mast Cell 360 take next.
Low Histamine Diet for Stabilization
Your long term goal is to support your histamine pathways to work correctly. And you want to reduce mast cell over-reactivity.
Doing so will allow you to include more foods in your diet over time.
Many high histamine foods have great nutrients. So, you want to bring those back on board when your Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance is calmed down – when it is safe for you.
With the MC360™ method that all Mast Cell 360 clients use, the first step is stabilization.
Part of this stabilization is working to lower your stress and work on soothing the nervous system.
You can read about a simple stress-lowering technique here: Resonant Breathing
The other important part of stabilization is working through this low histamine diet plan.
I divide the low histamine diet plan into 3 phases. The length of each phase depends on your symptoms. Let’s start with Phase 1.
Low Histamine Diet Plan: Phase 1
Phase 1 is usually recommended for at least 6 months.
Think of this phase as going back to basics.
You’ll take out all high histamine foods, histamine liberating foods. You’ll also take out any foods that block Diamine Oxidase (DAO enzyme) production.
Use the Mast Cell 360 Low Histamine Foods List to find out which high histamine foods you’ll want to replace with low histamine foods. You can print that post as a handy reference guide.
For phase 1 of the low histamine diet plan, I recommend you avoid all:
- Dairy products like shred cheese (except ghee)
- Fish (except frozen Wild Alaskan Salmon)
- Packaged and processed foods
- All high histamine foods
Phase 1 Low Histamine Diet Plan Tips
Here are the best food handling practices you need to be aware of during phase 1.
Limit Eating Out
But if you must, bring your own properly prepared meat to restaurants to add to your plate during this phase.
Freeze All Leftovers
Be sure to freeze all leftovers after cooking.
I like to use these souper cubes for easy, plastic-free storage.
Use Immediately Frozen Meats
Be sure to follow the low histamine meat handling tips here.
You don’t want to consume fresh meat! What?!
“Fresh” meat may not be as fresh as you think. By the time it hits your grocery store, it’s already had a chance for histamine levels to rise.
Your best choices are going to be meats that have been frozen almost immediately after slaughter or catch. This helps keep histamine levels to a minimum.
Emphasize Nutrient Dense Foods
Because the Mast Cell 360 Low Histamine Foods list focuses are whole, nutritious foods, you’ll find lots of food choices that will support good nutrition.
Did you know that herbs are among the most nutrient dense foods you can choose? Add them to your meals whenever you can.
Fresh, low histamine vegetables are also good choices. They are often nutrient dense and some even have properties that are histamine lowering.
Limit all refined sugar to very special occasions. This includes:
- Coconut sugar
- Maple syrup
- Rice syrup
- Agave, etc.
Honey is high histamine so you’ll want to continue to avoid that.
If you eat fruit, limit to 1-2 servings a day.
You don’t want to spike your blood sugar. That can cause histamine release.
Staying hydrated is important for everyone. But it’s especially important if you have MCAS or Histamine Intolerance.
Fluids help flush out toxins from your body.
Make sure you are drinking clean water, though. There can be toxins hiding in your drinking water that can trigger your mast cells!
I also recommend drinking herbal teas. Not only can this provide you with a boost of flavor and enjoyment, but fresh herbs have lots of health benefits, too.
Many freshly picked herbal teas have histamine lower properties
The lowest histamine brand I’ve found is Kauai Farmacy. Learn about low histamine tea here.
Keep a Food Diary
Keep a food diary of foods and symptoms so you can track if you may have other food allergies, sensitivities, or intolerances beyond histamine.
This is common to have. Keeping these records will make them easier to spot.
You’ll want to talk to your healthcare specialist about these:
I never want you to limit foods if it’s not necessary so please work closely with your doctor.
Use My Low Histamine Recipes
Not sure where to get started with cooking low histamine?
Check out all my low histamine recipes here.
I am a total foodie and have many archives from over the years.
You’ll find everything from snacks, to desserts, to tasty beverages, and main courses.
Try this tasty snack! Low Lectin Popping Sorghum
Final Reminder for Phase 1
Follow this phase for 6 months or until your symptoms have improved so you can experiment with bringing foods back in.
If your symptoms haven’t improved after 6 months, don’t move on to Phase 2. You may need to discern what your root causes are.
Sign up here to find out the root causes of MCAS. I’ll send it right to your inbox.
Low Histamine Diet Plan: Phase 2
After about 6 months of the elimination diet phase, your symptoms will hopefully be much improved.
You’ve had a chance to lower your histamine levels and get your “histamine sink” working again.
If you have improved, you can start to experiment with foods you can tolerate.
Think about Phase 2 of the low histamine diet plan as the re-introduction phase. This will usually last 6-24 months.
If you are still having symptoms, though, don’t continue to this phase yet.
If you are still having symptoms, you may be dealing with more than Histamine Intolerance. You’ll need to find out what your underlying Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance Root Causes are and address those first.
Phase 2 Low Histamine Diet Plan Tips
Here are some tips for phrase 2 of the low histamine diet plan.
The first is to start small.
Make Small Changes
Only make 1 change every 3-4 days.
Keep a food diary. Symptoms can take up to 2-3 days to develop. So, don’t introduce anything else new at this time.
If you tolerate a small quantity of the high nutrient, higher histamine food, you can try a moderate quantity. For example, 6-8 walnuts or 4 ounces of freshly cooked Wild Alaskan Salmon that was frozen after catch.
Give it another 3-4 days. If you don’t notice an increase in symptoms, add this food to your personal low histamine foods list with the quantity you tolerated.
Or try a couple ounces of freshly cooked Wild Alaskan Salmon that was frozen after catch. Don’t do a full serving yet.
Emphasize Nutrient Density
This phase is about adding in HIGH NUTRIENT, higher histamine foods like veggies and nuts.
But start with small quantities. For example, you can try adding 3-4 walnuts.
Avoid Processed Foods
Don’t add in packaged or processed foods, yet.
Limit Eating Out
Be careful when ordering meat at a restaurant.
I recommend still taking your own meat to restaurants to avoid confusion in this phase.
Continue freezing your leftovers.
This is to keep the histamine content in your food low.
Keep in mind that stress, PMS and menstruation, seasonal allergies, mold exposure, certain medications, and some supplements can raise histamine levels.
You’ll want to consider these things in your testing. In other words, the day before your period starts isn’t the best time to introduce a new food.
It may take many months to fully reintroduce all the foods you’d like to eat again.
I see many people get impatient and try to go too fast. This will likely backfire.
If you take your time, you’ll actually get more foods back faster in the long run.
Rotate and Diversify Your Foods
Make sure you are rotating foods and not eating too many high histamine foods on the same day.
Remember, histamine levels work like a sink. This means 3 walnuts might not affect you. But 3 walnuts + ¼ avocado + 2 ounces of mushroom very well may get you. I suggest only eating 1 higher histamine food a day, in small quantities, at this phase.
Start with a small amount so you don’t consume too much histamine. Then, if it goes ok, a little more the next time.
Here are examples of foods you can experiment with in moderation:
- 2-3 walnuts
- ¼ avocado, firmer (not mushy)
- 2-4 fresh button or shiitake mushrooms
- 1 fresh pasture raised egg, whites thoroughly cooked
- ¼ cup eggplant
- ¼ cup fresh tomatoes
- ¼ banana
- 1-2 whole dates
- 3-4 cubes fresh pineapple
- 2 ounces wild Alaskan salmon, frozen after slaughter (or other lower histamine fish
- ½ ounce top shelf plain vodka, gin, white rum, silver tequila (no more and only on rare occasions)
- 1-2 Tablespoons butter or cream (not high histamine, but may people have trouble with casein)
- 1 sprinkle of cayenne
- 1-2 small squares dark chocolate
- 1-2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 2-2½ ounces of low histamine white wine like Dry Farm Wines
Related Article: Lower Histamine Wines
Foods to Still Avoid During Phase 2
I recommend you do NOT include these very high histamine foods in this phase:
- Aged beef
- Ground meat (unless you grind it yourself at home)
- Fermented foods:
- Soy sauce
- Kombucha, etc.
- Processed/Packaged foods
- Vinegar – all types
- All other fish/shellfish
- Leftovers not frozen
- Meat at restaurants
- Cured meats
- Tea – black, green, white, or rooibos tea
- Alcohol – wine, beer, other alcohol not listed above
NOTE: Rooibos tea is fermented and high histamine. White, green, and black tea doesn’t technically have a high amount of histamine – instead these deplete DAO.
After 6-24 months or more, you may be ready for Phase 3.
Low Histamine Diet Plan: Phase 3
This phase is about seeing what your body can handle now that you have gone through some serious healing.
Ideally, you will have addressed your underlying Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance Root Causes before this phase.
You want to test your limits slowly and gently, though. DO NOT undertake this phase until your body is in a very good place health-wise. Otherwise, you may backslide.
Let’s look at my best tips for this phase.
Phase 3 Low Histamine Diet Plan Tips
Here’s how you can start on phase 3 of the low histamine diet plan.
Keep Making Small Changes
Still only make 1 change every 3-4 days. Keep a histamine food diary. Symptoms can take up to 2-3 days to develop.
Although as your health improves, you may find you can introduce foods more quickly at this point.
Continue to Emphasize Nutrient Density
Make sure you are still eating plenty of HIGH NUTRIENT, histamine lowering foods.
Limit High Histamine Foods Per Day
Continue to not eat too many high histamine foods on the same day.
Continue to avoid junk foods, processed foods, and food with additives like xanthan gum and carrageenan.
Continue to remember that stress, PMS and menstruation, seasonal allergies, mold exposure, and certain medications and supplements can raise histamine levels.
You’ll want to control for these things in your testing. So, the day before your period starts isn’t the best time to introduce a new food.
What to Try in Phase 3
Here are examples of things you can experiment with in Phase 3 in moderation. I suggest trying only 1 of these 1x or 2x/week:
- 6-8 ounces halibut or scallops Vital Choice
- 3-4 ounces shellfish like shrimp from Vital Choice
- 3-4 ounces chicken, lamb, turkey, or pork at a restaurant
- 3-4 ounces aged beef
- 2-3 ounces ground meat
- ½ cup high nutrient packaged foods without toxic additives, like Laiki Rice Crackers
- Leftovers refrigerated for 24 hours
- 3-4 jarred olives
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon, cloves, or nutmeg
- 1-2 slices pasture raised bacon
- 2-3 ounces of pasture raised yogurt (if no casein sensitivity)
- 1-2 ounces raw, fermented foods like sauerkraut
- 2-3 ounces kombucha
- 1 low histamine cocktail
- 1 teaspoon miso
- 1 teaspoon tamari
- 1 teaspoon white or balsamic vinegar
What to Avoid
I recommend you not return to these highest histamine foods:
- Fast food
- Packaged foods with additives like MSG or carrageenan
- Flavored alcohols (like coconut rum), packaged mixers (like margarita mix), and significantly aged alcohols (like 10 year aged bourbon)
- Preservatives like sodium benzoate or potassium sorbate
- Peanuts and cashews – very inflammatory
- More than 2-3 leaves of spinach
Related Article: Low Histamine Meal Planning
If you find your symptoms are returning at this phase, you’ll need to back up to Phase 2.
Also, continue to work on completely addressing your underlying Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance Root Causes.
You may start to feel better even though you still have work to do.
Don’t give up before you reach the finish line!
What If You Don’t See Improvement with the Low Histamine Diet Plan?
If you don’t notice a change with reducing Histamine foods, it may be because one or more of these reasons below.
- You may not have given it enough time. You may need at least 3-6 more months to be diligent about eliminating low histamine foods.
- You may not be eating low histamine enough. Check and make sure you aren’t sneaking in high histamine foods or eating a lot of processed foods. Think about eating in restaurants too – meat in restaurants is often very high histamine.
- You may have other food intolerances or sensitivities that haven’t been addressed yet. These can include oxalates, lectins, and glutamates. These can also include food sensitivities. We’ll talk about this more in the next section.
- Eating low histamine may not be enough. You may also have issues with the Histamine Degrading Enzymes like Diamine Oxidase (DAO).
- You may not notice a major change until you also add in mast cell stabilizing supplements and address the other specific root factors for you. Think of it like this. If you have 12 nails in different parts of your body, you may not notice a big difference if we only take out 1 nail. So, eating low histamine may be helping, but it may not be enough for you to feel significantly better yet.
- You may not have Histamine Intolerance. Not everyone with Mast Cell Activation Syndrome has Histamine Intolerance.
If you are still having issues, there are some major root causes you may not be addressing. Work with a qualified practitioner to support you in discovering what you may be dealing with.
What About Other Food Triggers in Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance?
There are other types of foods that people with MCAS or Histamine Intolerance may react to. Even if they aren’t immediately allergic reactions, there can be slower immune system responses like intolerances or sensitivities.
These include lectins, oxalates, salicylates, glutamates, and FODMAPs.
So, try new foods slowly and cautiously until you know how your body will respond. This list is meant to be a starting place for you to make your own personal list.
But before you eliminate more foods from your diet, work with a practitioner. In some cases, your reactions may not be from these additional food categories. You may have an underlying root cause like Mold Toxicity which is causing your health issues.
You don’t want to eliminate foods if you don’t have to. But if you and your practitioner determine your reactions may be related to foods, here are the top categories you can explore.
If you know you have an oxalate issue, PLEASE work with a qualified professional on lowering oxalates slowly. DO NOT go low oxalate cold turkey. People have made themselves extremely sick doing this.
Related Article: What Is Oxalate Dumping?
If you notice reactions to foods like legumes and squash, you may have lectin intolerance. Lectins are a mast cell trigger.
Related Article: Lectins and MCAS
If you’ve eliminated oxalates and lectins, and it hasn’t resolved all your symptoms, you want to talk to your practitioner about FODMAPs and Salicylates.
One of the most common symptoms of FODMAP intolerance is bloating. It is usually caused by a Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO).
Related Article: FODMAP Intolerance
One of the tell-tale signs of Salicylate Intolerance is ear ringing. You may also react to a lot of herbs and tea. I often see Salicylate Intolerance linked to mold exposure.
Related Article: Salicylates and MCAS
Do you prefer to learn by watching or listening? Check out this presentation on how to successfully reintroducing foods
Going Beyond the Low Histamine Diet Plan
When I started following a low histamine diet plan, I noticed big improvements in my health.
It takes discipline to stick to the 3 phases. But it can make a big difference.
And remember, for me, it was only 1 piece of the puzzle.
That may be the case for you, too.
I had to get my nervous system calmed down. I had to address Mold Toxicity. I had SIBO and Histamine Intolerance. I had other food intolerances, too. For a long time, I was the worst case I’d ever seen!
But it was the low histamine diet plan that first gave me some real change. And real hope.
Hundreds of Mast Cell 360 clients have noticed improvements with a changed diet, too.
But what if that isn’t enough for you, like it wasn’t enough for me?
First, I would say, don’t give up on the low histamine diet plan just yet!
Like I said, the low histamine diet plan was 1 piece of the bigger puzzle.
Instead, stick with it a little longer. But also see what other root causes you may need to address.
I want you to know that there is hope that you can reclaim your health. And I hope that the low histamine diet plan will help you do just that!
Do you need help with your Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance? Apply to the Mast Cell 360 Clinic here.
More Low Histamine Diet Plan Resources
- Low Histamine Vitamin C – one of the most common high histamine supplements
- Are you Raising your Histamine Levels with these Meat Handling Mistakes?
- Low Histamine Meal Planning Tips
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