The Mast Cell 360 Starter Low Histamine Diet Foods List & Why you Shouldn’t use Most of the Online Histamine Foods Lists if you have Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance
I’ve had both Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and Histamine Intolerance since early childhood. I grew up in the country. I was always sneezing and rubbing my eyes. I remember summers spent snapping green beans. I’d have a massive pile of green beans in front of me. By the the time I got through my pile of beans, I was miserable and covered in itchy hives.
I remember never liking certain foods like hot dogs and Spam growing up. I’d cover the Spam in pineapple to be able to choke it down. And then end up itching and sneezing all night! I’d also have trouble breathing, poor sleep, acid reflux, and stomach aches after. The thought of Spam still makes queasy. Now I know that these are all high histamine foods.
In my 20s, I became really interested in eating healthy. I was an early adopter of making bone broths, eating spinach, and making my own ferments. I had kombucha, kefir, sourdough, and raw sauerkraut happily fermenting in my kitchen year round. I thought I was doing the absolute healthiest things for my body. But the itching, acid reflux, and insomnia kept getting worse! I didn’t know how high the histamine levels were in those foods too!
These symptoms were all clues that I had both Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and Histamine Intolerance. But no one really knew what either of those things were back then. So, even though my doctors were well-intentioned, they just didn’t know how to help me. Unfortunately, 99% of doctors still aren’t trained in this area. So, it can be really hard for people with Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance to find help.
The good news is, you are in the right place if you have either Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance. Maybe you are like me and have both. If you want to read more about the differences between Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and Histamine Intolerance, check out this post:
I start all my Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and Histamine Intolerance clients with a trial Low Histamine Diet. This is because I want to see if symptoms clear up with reducing Histamine consumption before adding a ton of supplements. Changing my diet to low histamine made a world of difference in my symptoms.
However, eating Low Histamine didn’t fix everything. But it was a huge piece of the puzzle for me as well as many of my clients.
This blog post will give you my Mast Cell 360 Starter Low Histamine Foods List. I recommend you give it a try. Track your symptoms before you start and as you are changing your diet. This way you’ll get a clear picture of what clears up.
Why you Shouldn’t use Most of the Online Histamine Foods Lists if you have Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance
If you’ve already been researching Low Histamine Foods List, you know there are a lot of them out there. The problem is 95% of the Histamine Foods Lists I’ve seen online are unfortunately rubbish. Many are just copying from others and making the same mistakes.
Many lists only include high histamine foods. But a Low Histamine Diet is more complicated than that. These lists don’t include foods that are histamine liberators or foods that block Diamine Oxidase (DAO) – one of the major histamine degrading enzymes. So, most Low Histamine Diet Lists online essentially don’t work for most people.
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.
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. Like raspberries for instance.I’ve found most people with Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance can tolerate a few raspberries – like around ¼ cup.
Another problem is, 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. And many of those studies didn’t even control for reactions to things like; salicylates, oxalates, and just plain food sensitivities. So, the lists became far too limited.
Then some Histamine Food lists include a lot of processed, packaged foods in the “Safe column. But processed foods can make MCAS and Histamine Intolerance worse over time!!
So, what do you do?
I’ve worked really hard on developing my Mast Cell 360 Starter Low Histamine Diet Foods list for you.
This Starter Histamine Foods list has you eliminate:
- High Histamine foods
- Histamine liberating foods
- Foods that block Diamine Oxidase
This list also emphasizes foods that are highly nutritious and help lower histamine levels.
So, let’s get to the tips…
Tips on The Mast Cell 360 Starter Low Histamine Foods List for Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and Histamine Intolerance
I wanted this Low Histamine Foods list 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. I recommend emphasizing a lot of high nutrient foods like cauliflower, onions, and blueberries that all have antihistamine properties. You can read more about those antihistamine foods here:
You’ll also want to remember that histamine levels work like a bucket. You might be ok with 1 strawberry or 1 bite of pineapple. But if you combine a few bites here and there of high histamine foods, your bucket might overflow. Your histamine bucket can also be fuller due to exposure to seasonal allergens, mold, fluctuating hormones, dehydration, stress, etc. So, keep this bucket in mind when making food choices.
Finally, you don’t want to limit your diet for too long. I get a number of clients who are down to 10 safe foods or less. I find that being too restricted on foods can snowball into more and more restrictions due to the nutrient deficiencies. Be sure to reach out for help before you get to this point!
I was once down to a very small number of safe foods, I wasn’t able to eat in restaurants at all. It has taken a lot of work to get a variety of foods back in my diet. I can now eat everything on the low histamine list below. I can also now eat small amounts of firm avocado, a couple squares of dark chocolate, and even a small handful of walnuts. I can even eat out (mindfully) without paying for it later.
I’ve almost completely healed the underlying root triggers that caused my Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and Histamine Intolerance. I do still stay mindful of my histamine bucket. So 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!
The long term goal in Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and Histamine Intolerance is to support histamine pathways to work correctly and reduce mast cell over-reactivity so that we can include more foods over time. Many higher histamine foods have great nutrients. So, we want to try to bring those back on board at some point when your Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance is calmed down – when it is safe for you.
The Mast Cell 360 3 Phase Low Histamine Diet for Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and Histamine Intolerance
Phase 1 of the Mast Cell 360 Low Histamine Food Elimination
Important Notes for Mast Cell 360 Low Histamine Phase I: Food Elimination (usually 6 months)
Think of this phase as going back to basics. You’ll take out all High Histamine foods, Histamine Liberating foods, and Diamine Oxidase (DAO) blocking foods.
- Use the Mast Cell 360 Low Histamine Starter Foods List: PHASE I to eliminate high histamine foods. I recommend at this phase you avoid all dairy (except ghee), eggs, fish (even frozen Wild Alaskan salmon) and all high histamine foods.
- Avoid packaged and processed foods.
- Freeze all leftovers after cooking. Bring your own properly prepared meat to restaurants to add to your plate during this phase.
- Be sure to follow the Meat Handling tips here.
- Emphasize nutrient dense herbs and vegetables that are histamine lowering.
- Follow this phase for 6 months
- Keep a food diary of foods and symptoms so you can track if you may have other food sensitivities or intolerances beyond Histamine. This is common to have.
Phase 2 of the Mast Cell 360 Low Histamine Food Elimination
Important Notes for Mast Cell 360 Low Histamine Food Phase II:
Re-introduction Phase – Build Your Own Foods List: Usually 6-18 months
After 6 months of the Elimination phase, your symptoms will hopefully be much improved. If so, you can start to experiment with foods you can tolerate.
If you are still having symptoms, though, don’t continue with this step yet. You will need to find out what your underlying Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance Root Causes are and address those first.
- 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.
- This phase is about adding in a HIGH NUTRIENT higher histamine foods in small quantities. For example, you can add 3-4 walnuts. Or try a couple ounces of freshly cooked Wild Alaskan Salmon that was frozen after catch. Don’t do a full serving yet.
- Don’t add in packaged or processed foods. Be sure to freeze leftovers and be careful ordering meat at a restaurant. I recommend still taking your own meat to restaurants to avoid confusion in this phase.
- 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.
- 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 no increase in symptoms, add this food to your personal Low Histamine Foods List with the quantity you tolerated.
- Be patient. It will take many months for you to reintroduce 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 bucket. This means 3 walnuts might not affect you. But 3 walnuts + ¼ avocado + 2 ounces of salmon very well may get you. I suggest only eating 1 higher histamine food a day, in small quantities, at this phase.
Here are examples of foods you can experiment with rotating in at this point in moderation. Start with a small amount. Then, if it goes ok, a little more the next time.
- 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 (like Vital Choice Fish King Salmon)
- ½ ounce top shelf plain vodka, gin, white rum, silver tequila (no more and on rare occasion)
- 1-2 T Butter or Cream (not high histamine, but may people have trouble with casein)
- Sprinkle of cayenne
- 1-2 Ounces Dark Chocolate
- 1-2 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar
I recommend you do NOT include these very high histamine foods in this phase:
- Ground meat (unless you grind it yourself at home)
- Fermented Foods: Kefir, Yogurt, Sauerkraut, Miso, Soy Sauce, Kombucha, etc.
- Processed/Packaged foods
- Vinegar – all types
- All other Fish/Shellfish
- Leftovers not frozen
- Meat at restaurants
- Cured Meats
- Peanuts or Cashews
- Black, Green, White or Rooibos tea
- Wine, Beer, Other Alcohol not listed above
Phase 3 of the Mast Cell 360 Low Histamine Food Elimination
Important Notes for Mast Cell 360 Low Histamine Food Phase III:
Testing Your Limits: AFTER 12-24 months of Phase I and II
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.
DO NOT undertake this phase until your body is in a very good place health-wise. Otherwise, you may backslide.
- Still only make 1 change every 3-4 days. Keep a Histamine Food Diary. Symptoms can take up to 2-3 days to develop. So don’t introduce anything else new at this time.
- Make sure you are still eating plenty of HIGH NUTRIENT Histamine Lowering foods.
- 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.
- Go slowly. If you develop symptoms, note it and let things calm down before you try something else.
- 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.
Here are examples of things you can experiment with in Phase III in moderation and only 1 of these 1x or 2x/week:
- 6-8 ounces Wild Alaskan Salmon, frozen after slaughter (like Vital Choice Fish King Salmon)
- 3-4 ounces freshly caught seafood
- 3-4 ounces chicken, lamb, turkey, or pork at a restaurant
- 3-4 ounces of beef prepared at home
- 2-3 ounces ground meat
- ½ cup high nutrient packaged foods, like Laiki Rice Crackers
- Leftovers refrigerated for 24 hours
- ¼ tsp cinnamon, cloves, or nutmeg
- ¼ cup of canned beans or lentils
- 1-2 slices pasture-raised bacon
- 2-3 ounces of pasture-raised yogurt (if no casein sensitivity)
- 1-2 ounces raw, fermented sauerkraut
- 2-3 ounces kombucha
- 1 tsp miso
- 1 tsp tamari
- 1 tsp white or balsamic vinegar
- Small glass of low histamine white wine like Dry Farm Wines
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
Also, make sure you have completely addressed your underlying Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance Root Causes.
What if You Don’t See Improvement with the Low Histamine Diet and you have Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance
If you don’t notice a change with reducing Histamine foods, it may be because one or more of these reasons:
- You may not have given it enough time. You need to be diligent about eliminating low histamine foods for at least 6 months.
- 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 chapters.
- Eating low histamine may not be enough. You may also have issues with the Histamine Degrading Enzymes. I can help you with this.
- 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. You may not know until further down the road, though. I encourage you to stay on the Low Histamine Diet until you are symptom free. Then you can experiment with adding in higher histamine foods one at a time to see if your symptoms return. This is the best way to rule out Histamine Intolerance.
- Your meat and leftovers may be getting you. Leftovers need to be frozen after cooking. Meat has to be handled in a specific way. Make sure you’ve followed the tips in these posts:
If you are still having issues, there are some major root causes missing. Work with a qualified practitioner to support you.
Still not sure? Testing for Histamine Intolerance in Mast Cell Activation Syndrome
Histamine Intolerance can be evaluated through a few criteria:
- Ruling out other conditions that could cause continual release of histamine
- Symptoms of Histamine Intolerance without true allergy issues
- Negative skin and blood tests for the allergen antibodies
- Symptom relief with reduction of histamine foods
If the above criteria are true for you, then you can take more steps to narrow down the issues in Histamine Intolerance. Serum Diamine Oxidase testing is available through Dunwoody Labs’ Advanced Intestinal Barrier Assessment. Methylation status related to Histamine Intolerance can be tested in a Doctor’s Data or Genova Blood Methylation Panel. The genes coding for the Histamine Degrading Enzymes can be tested through genetic testing. I use Your Genomic Resource in my practice for genetic testing. This is because it gives the best genetic information for Histamine Intolerance and Mast Cell Activation Syndrome.
Testing isn’t always enough, though. If you have a problem with DAO, you want to look at your gut health. This is because most DAO is made in the brush border cells of the gut. If you have any gut infections, gut inflammation, or are eating inflammatory foods, your DAO product will be affected.
What about Oxalates and Lectins in Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance? What about other food triggers?
There are other types of foods that people with MCAS or Histamine Intolerance may react to. 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.
If you seem to be reacting to a lot of foods that are low histamine, you may have additional food sensitivities. If this is the case, you can reach out to me for help. I can help you customize your own foods list.
I recommend to my clients they start with the Mast Cell 360 Low Histamine Diet Phase I: Elimination List. Then if there are symptoms left, work with a Mast Cell and Histamine specialist before delving into oxalates or lectins too far. This is because you don’t want to limit foods too much. I’ve seen people get worse and worse when they get down to 20 or less safe foods. This is because they are rapidly losing nutrients needed to stabilize mast cells and build the histamine degrading enzymes.
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.
Do you need help with your Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance?
Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and Histamine Intolerance are both very complex conditions. This is what I’ve spent the past several years studying and dedicating my life to helping others with. It is almost impossible to figure out alone if you don’t have a significant amount of health education and clinical training. I even have a number of high level health care practitioners who consult with me for help with their own Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance. Because it’s that complicated.
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