Before I go any further and start sharing with you which food list(s) I looked to in the beginning of my histamine friendly journey. I want to stress that we are all different, have different tolerance levels and some (if not most) of us also carry different additional food allergies, food intolerance’s, and/or food sensitivities with us. This basically means that there is NO ONE LOW HISTAMINE FOOD LIST FITS ALL here, and this is very important to understand and remember.
You have to make the list that fits you! Remember this is a fluid thing, as we heal we will be able to reintroduce more and more food items over time. Likewise, set backs and stressful events, can make you more sensitive for a period and it can be necessary to eliminate certain foods for a period. So as you can see your list shouldn’t be a constant set in stone, but rather something fluid that evolves with you and fits the you right now.
The elimination diet phase
Next, it is important to remember that the strict elimination phase, is a PHASE and not meant to be kept up for a long time! But rather help your body calm down and to “empty your histamine bucket”, before starting the next phase of reintroduction and thus expanding your list of safe foods. Eliminating foods for a few weeks might help symptoms, but if kept up for a long time might in the long run cause people to become reactive to an increasing number of foods. Possible reasons why this occurs: increased consumption of other foods that may cause reaction in large amounts (oxalic acid, salicylic acid, fructose as examples), limiting the number of foods eaten often means less rotation so the body may become sensitized to foods consumed regularly. You can look into rotation diets for allergies, if you like – personally i try to eat as varied as possible, and to rotate as much as possible, but I don’t stress about it!! Please note: it is advisable to have a medical professional guiding you through this process.
The various foods lists are valuable as a framework at this stage!
The confusion of the many different lists
What I remember as being the most frustrating when starting out – was ALL the different lists! I mean they all agree on some food items (e.g tomatoes), but they all differ in opinion on a bunch of other foods….. with the result that some foods are listed as high on some lists and low on others. It literally made me wanna rip my hair out! Insert crazy red faced emoji here.
And then to add to the confusion in comes foods that can have opposing properties. For example raspberries are considered high histamine but have quercetin in them which is an antihistamine. This accounts for some of the confusion as a person googling antihistamine foods might come across raspberries because of the quercetin content, while a person googling high histamine foods would also find raspberries on the list. Same story with stinging nettles and onions btw…. and the list is long……
The Retroduction phase
Just because you react to a food today, doesn’t mean you will next week, in half a year or forever. It is important to keep trying to reintroduce (healthy) foods back into the rotation. Note: In cases of moderate to severe reactions it is essential to work with a medical practitioner in doing so.
Things change, the body heals and the inflammation bucket empties. Remember that histamine reactions are dose dependent, so if you’re dealing with pre-existing inflammation caused by prior histamine food ingestion you may have a reaction one day, but not on another when you have not been consuming high histamine foods or dealing with excess inflammation.
And I really hope that once you have read all the way down to here, it has been made clear that you must build and expand on YOUR individual list of safe foods/tolerated foods, with emphasis on adding back nutritious anti-inflammatory foods, so you can eat a wide variety of foods, and help your body do some healing. And NOT just stick to the low histamine free list you found somewhere on the internet way back.
The lists – which one should I Choose?
Dr. Janice Joneja
Dr. Joneja is a registered dietician and holds a Ph.D. in medical microbiology and immunology. She has over thirty years of experience, nearly half as the head of the Allergy Nutrition Program at the Vancouver Hospital and Health Sciences Centre.
Dr Janice Joneja’s list eliminates histamines and tyramines (high levels of tyramine is linked to frequent head aches and migraines, so a good place to start if this is your main sympton).
This list is simple to follow, and gives general groups of foods, which makes logical choices easier. Personally, I found it a good place to start, as it gave me time to get get used to the new situation, but it quickly proved inadequate for me. While I improved a lot, I still noticed that I was reacting to some of the foods listed as “Foods Allowed”, mainly in the category legumes and nuts. So after about 3-4 weeks of Elimination Diet based on this list, I decided to switch lists to the following list from Swiss Interest Group Histamine Intolerance.
Note if you have any of Yasmina Ykelenstam’s (Healing Histamine) books, then note that the foods in her books are based on a combination of Dr. Joneja’s list and the list from Swiss Interest Group Histamine Intolerance.
The Swiss Interest Group Histamine Intolerance (SIGHI)
After 3-4 weeks of elimination diet based on Dr. Joneja’s list, I decided to switch to the list from SIGHI. This decision was based on a weeks worth of thorough research online as well as reading through a couple of books on the topic. And looking through what felt like a ton of different food lists! So why did I choose this one? Well, first of all it was recommend by Yasmina Ykelenstam (Healing Histamine). Secondly, it is regularly updated and well researched. Third, the foods listed are graded from 0-3 (with 0 being low histamine, and three being high histamine), which makes it easier to choose which foods to eliminate and which foods to reintroduce when the time comes. Fourth, it lists legumes and more nuts as high histamine – which was my problem areas not covered by the list from Dr. Janice Joneja. And last but not least, it lists ALL PUMPKINS as low histamine…. and it might be silly, but when I was doing this it was the beginning of pumpkin season and I was missing them sooooo much! So I basically swapped out beans and cashews for pumpkins. And it did the trick! And about 3 weeks later I started the reintroduction phase.
The list itself is very extensive and covers the largest variety of foods I have seen. You can download the SIGHI Food Compatibility List as a pdf file or download their more compact SIGHI-Leaflet. They also have a cookbook “Mast-Cell-Friendly and Low-Histamine Cooking“, which I found very helpful in the beginning.
Note: The recipes on this blog is based on foods from this list, graded as 0-1. With few exceptions.
THE SPANISH DAO SOCIETY HISTAMINE FOODS LIST
Now to an interesting list that is used by the Spanish Diamine Oxidase Society, this list provides the levels of histamine in foods. You can find parts of the list here.
THE ROYAL PRINCE ALFRED HOSPITAL HISTAMINE FOODS LIST
The Royal Prince Alfred Hospital’s list is by far the strictest (if you don’t count the one where you cut everything but chicken and rice away). It’s often referred to as the “failsafe diet” and not only eliminates histamines but also salicylates, amines, glutamates, sulphites, food colourings, and other artificial additives. I don’t necessary believe that the best place to start is the strictest! I believe that eliminating more foods than necessary, will easily make matters worse rather than better. And should only be done, if absolutely necessary and under guidance from a medical professional.
Neither Yasmine from Healing Histamine or Alison Vickery (who also has a great list btw, see more info below) had any positive experience with this approach, and I honestly never attempted to follow this list.
According to Alison Vickery: “Dr Moneret-Vautrin is a French Professor of Medicine specialising in allergies and immunology. She is highly published in the area of histamine intolerance but relatively unknown in english speaking countries.
Dr Moneret-Vautrin’s diet is similar to Dr Joneja’s with one exception. It introduces the idea of foods that result in histamine synthesis in the gut (such as grains and legumes).”
Removing grains and legumes (read lectins people) can dramatically increase the tolerance levels for some people and many (but not all) benefit from this approach. For me personally I’m somewhere in between…. I’m okay with grains, and never needed to eliminate them, I haven’t even needed to go gluten free (Did cut way down though). But I definitely needed to cut out legumes! The only two i kept in was green string beans and green peas (both in moderation).
Note: I haven’t been able to find a working link to the list from Dr Moneret-Vautrin. If you find one please let me know 🙂
If you don’t already know who Alison Vickery is, then please go to her website immediately after reading the rest of this page. Over the years she has published a ton of useful information related to histamine intolerance, and her site is worth a ton of gold. She has also made and published a free Histamine Intolerance Food List. Which you can get your hands on if you sign up for her Newsletter.
I personally like this list, for many of the same reasons I like the SIGHI list. The foods here are also categorized, by using a grading system, making it easy to see where to start and end. But it is somewhat stricter than the SIGHI list.
Anita Tee from Fact vs Fitness
Anita Tee from Fact vs Fitness has a specialization in Digestive Health & Gut Bacteria, and has her research in the area of Histamine Intolerance published by the British Association of Nutritional Therapists. She wrote a Low Histamine cookbook last year, and her website is filled with tons of research and information. I had the pleasure of attending her (free) webinar last year about healing and recovering from histamine intolerance, which was very informative.
Like Alison Vickery, you can download her “Histamine Intolerance Food List“, by signing up for her newsletter.
Food Intolerances App By Baliza
The Food Intolerance app uses published research as the source of its information. The research is even referenced to with a hyper-link. It covers a wide field of different subjects:
- Histamine intolerance and Mastocytosis (considers histamine and tyramine contents of food, histamine liberators and DAO inhibitors)
- Fructose malabsorption
- Sorbitol intolerance
- Lactose intolerance
- Low FODMAP diet (considers content of fructose, sorbitol, lactose and problematic fibers, e.g. fructans and galactans)
- Salicylate or aspirin intolerance
- Gluten intolerance
- Additional filters for Wheat, Soy, Yeast, Sulfites, Milk, Egg, Meat, Beef, Pork and Honey
Even more importantly, the app allows you to alter the individual ranking of foods, and make personal notes, based on your own bio-individuality. What you end up with is a personalized, portable, food list.
I personally have this app on my phone, and while it doesn’t match 100% procent with the list from SIGHI, I still find it extremely handy, especially during grocery shopping, where an app on your phone just beats a list on paper any day 😉
Note: There are more apps on the market, but this is the one I like the most of the once I have downloaded so far.
So Which List Should I Choose?
So which list should you choose? The answer is paradoxically any one of them, as they are all credible sources, and at the same time none of them.
Their value is in using the list as a framework to observe your own body and develop your own bio-individual list. So pick the one that resonates with you and start there. Use it as a guideline during the elimination phase, and afterwards expand on the list as you discover your safe foods.
Printable Histamine Food Chart
If you managed to read all the way to the end of this page, give your self a pad on the shoulder and a well done…. this page certainly ended up being way longer than I had originally intended it to be. As a reward I want to share the compacted version I made for myself (and my husband) to print out and hang on the inside of the kitchen cupboard. Easy access while cooking is alpha omega in the beginning! Please Note: That this is my compacted list of high histamine foods to avoid, mainly based on the SIGHI list mentioned above. You of course need to add any for you additional unsafe foods. This is meant as a general guide and help and not as “the one and only truth”.
Note: The list is sorted in categories. The red once are high histamine foods to avoid (score 2-3 on the SIGHI list) and the green is low histamine foods (score 0-1 on the SIGHI list) which I decided to include during my elimination phase (with a few exceptions, since I’m also sensitive to cows milk and chicken eggs).
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