It’s not enough to simply state that all health begins in the gut. It’s not enough to simply refer to that semi-permeable, enzyme secreting, microbiome dwelling tubal barrier that extends from mouth to anus as the foundation of optimal health. Simply stating it and following that up with a strategy to address and enhance all aspects of the gastrointestinal system to an individual plagued with a series of seemingly unrelated, non GI issues does not cut it.
To say all health begins in the gut sounds nice; reasonable enough we suppose. But what does that really mean? And how is it beneficial to the anxiety riddled, allergy and asthma laden, or patient suffering with increasingly disruptive premenstrual symptoms sitting across the table? There is a reason this concept (all heath beginning in the gut) has withstood the test of time and was conveyed by Hippocrates centuries ago.
Last week we discussed one clear mechanism (link to discussion below this paragraph) by which compromised integrity of the intestinal wall (aka leaky gut), can lead to increased brain inflammation and alter levels of neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin, and GABA; leading to things like depression, anxiety, brain fog, and ADD/ADHD.
This week we will continue illuminating just how indeed all health begins and is contingent upon the gut; explaining how damage to a component of the intestinal wall called microvilli can downgrade an enzyme called diamine oxidase (DO). DO is responsible for breaking down histamine. So if we have less DO due to gut wall damage, we will have higher histamine levels and all of the annoying issues that come with it which include, but its not exclusive to:
ALLERGIES (runny nose; red, itchy eyes, congested); especially if increasing in frequency, intensity, number of triggers, etc.
SKIN ISSUES (rash, itching, hives, etc.)
ANTIHISTAMINES PROVIDE RELIEF (or some degree of it)
CARDIAC: TACHYCARDIA (increased heart rate) or ARRHYTHMIA
JOINT PAIN, INFLAMMATION, SWELLING
FOOD SENSITIVITIES; again, especially if increasing in frequency, intensity, or number of aggravating foods.
LOW HISTAMINE LEVEL FOODS:
• Fresh meat (cooled, frozen or fresh)
• Freshly caught fish
• Chicken (skinned and fresh)
• Egg yolk
• Fresh fruits – with the exception of strawberries, most fresh fruits are considered to have a low histamine level (also see histamine liberators below)
• ***GNERALLY, THE MORE RIPENED THE FRUIT THE MORE HISTAMINE***
• Fresh vegetables – with the exception of tomatoes
• Grains – rice noodles, yeast free rye bread, rice crisp bread, oats, puffed rice crackers, millet flour, pasta (spelt and corn based)
• Fresh pasturized milk and milk products
• Milk substitutes – coconut milk, rice milk
• Cream cheese, butter (without the histamine generating rancidity)
• Most cooking oils – check suitability before use
• Most leafy herbs – check suitability before use
• Most non-citric fruit juices
• Herbal teas – with the exception of those listed below
HIGH HISTAMINE LEVEL FOODS:
• Pickled or canned foods – sauerkrauts
• Matured cheeses
• Smoked meat products – salami, ham, sausages….
• Beans and pulses – chickpeas, soy beans, peanuts
• Nuts – walnuts, cashew nuts
• Chocolates and other cocoa based products
• Ready meals
• Salty snacks, sweets with preservatives and artificial colorings
HISTAMINE LIBERATORS (increases histamine levels):
• Most citric fruits – kiwi, lemon, lime, pineapple, plums…
• Cocoa and chocolate
• Beans and pulses
• Wheat germ
• Additives – benzoate, sulphites, nitrites, glutamate, food dyes
DIAMINE OXIDASE (DO) BLOCKERS (and thus indirect histamine elevators):
• Black tea
• Energy drinks
• Green tea
• Mate tea
SAME FOOD, DIFFERENT REACTION
Another fascinating, but highly diagnostic occurrence is when you eat a fruit on a Monday when it is not yet fully ripened, and have no noticeable reaction. However, when consuming that same fruit, from the same bundle later on in the week, a histamine reaction occurs. This is because as certain foods ripen, the level of histamine and/or histaminergic properties increases.
DO naturally and normally drops in the body about a week prior the period. If DO is already low and histamine high due to damage to intestinal wall, histamine levels can elevate even higher during this time and cause or perpetuate increased severity of premenstrual symptoms like migraine, discomfort, joint pain, swelling, cold like symptoms, fatigue; even increased sensitivity to certain foods like wine, cheese or chocolate.
It should be noted that DO is not the only mechanism that plays a role in metabolizing, and thus keeping our histamine levels optimal. The process of methylation also plays a role here and could also be leading to potentially symptom generating histamine levels in the body, along with a long list of other issues. Another topic, for another post, but it should be noted if you tested positive for having certain variants of the MTHFR, MTRR, or COMT SNP (pronounced “snip” aka Single Nucleotide Polymorphism) or are deficient in B vitamins (B9 & B12 in particular), you may have an issue methylating, and thus breaking down histamine.
As stated in the video above, not only do we frequently test for intestinal permeability, but we quite frequently run an intestinal permeability screen that includes measurements of DO and histamine. This panel, which also includes LPS and Zonulin, (two additional markers indicative of a “leaky gut”) provides tangible proof of a root cause issue to be corrected.
An understanding of what these markers mean and just how they can be a driving force behind an individual’s seemingly disconnected, non-traditional GI issues can be the match that ignites the fire for healing change. It is something we go into in great detail with all who are ready for change. The education and understanding is an intricate part of the process, and leaves the patient empowered to live a quality of life with less necessary, reactive interventions. That is true, healthcare; liberation from sick-care and what we believe is necessary to optimize all aspects of that one body, and drastically enhance quantity and quality of life.
Take control of your life.