If you struggle with allergies, there's a high likelihood you've heard the word "histamines" before. In fact, you probably reach for antihistamines when your sinus issues flare up, right? But have you ever wondered, "What is the function of histamine?" What's so special about this compound, and why is it important to understand it when we experience an overstimulated immune response and sinus issues? Let's find out!
First, it's crucial to be aware that grabbing the antihistamines will not get to the root cause of your allergy problem but may provide symptomatic relief, and you could experience side effects. However, learning what histamines are and where you may encounter them in daily life can help you discover what may be increasing your allergic response.
Understanding how histamine functions can guide you into taking proactive steps to help reduce them, relieving you of your sinus symptoms and your need for using over-the-counter antihistamine medications.
Histamines are a natural defense mechanism against foreign invaders. They help your body to expel and eliminate potentially harmful substances.
Contrary to popular belief, histamine isn't bad. It's actually there to help! However, when histamine levels get out of control, that's when issues can occur, and you may start experiencing symptoms.
If you have allergies, what happens behind the scenes is your immune system overreacts and produces too much histamine. In this case, your body senses allergens, including pollen, pet dander, and dust mites, as foreign invaders, which trigger your histamine response.
When a potential threat triggers the immune system, histamine is released and travels through the bloodstream. This causes blood vessels to dilate and allows your white blood cells to get to the area where the foreign invader is. Oftentimes this is your nasal passages and sinus where you breathe in these allergens.
The flood of immune cells to the foreign invader causes an inflammatory response. This trigger (dust, pollen, etc.) and the resulting histamine response can cause nasal tissue to inflame, creating pressure, itching, congestion, swelling and breathing difficulties.
Why do some people's bodies respond to allergens like this? Here are some of the latest discoveries we are seeing in the health field. The following factors greatly influence the risk of allergies and the severity of your body's response:
Poor diet and high stress leads to bodily imbalances and dysfunction
Mast cell activation syndrome, in which mast cells release an inappropriate number of histamines into your body
These can all impact your immune cells, which control your allergic and inflammatory responses.
You can take control of your allergies and help reduce the number of histamines in your body by avoiding exposure to them and supporting the production of excess histamine. These steps can significantly relieve your sinus symptoms.
Avoiding these histamine-rich sources can help relieve your symptoms.
Alcohol, especially beer, cider and wine
Fermented foods (pickles, smoked meats, sauerkraut, etc.)
Dairy of any sort (milk, yogurt, cheese, etc.)
Processed or smoked meats (sausage, lunch meats, hot dogs, etc.)
Yeast and all yeast products
Spinach, tomatoes, eggplant, mushrooms, avocado
Vinegar, soy sauce, artificial preservatives and dyes
These foods are low in histamine, but unfortunately, they help release histamine from other foods.
Chocolate and coca
Fish and shellfish
Certain fruits like papayas, pineapple, strawberries and bananas
Tomatoes, bananas, most citrus fruits
Your body uses the diamine oxidase (DAO) enzyme to break down histamines. However, certain things (alcohol, black, green and mate tea, all carbonated drinks and medications) can block the function of this enzyme, therefore exacerbating your allergic reactions.
Focus on increasing your DAO enzyme naturally by consuming healthy fats like coconut oil, olive oil, wild-caught salmon and walnuts, and gluten-free grains like rice and quinoa. These can support DAO levels, which help to break down histamine.
Vitamin C helps lower the number of histamines in your body by inhibiting mast cell production and the subsequent chain reaction of the immune system.
Now that you know the function of histamine, you can implement the action steps outlined here into your daily life and may experience some relief from your sinus symptoms.
If you're looking to go one step further and optimize your health on a deeper cellular level, working with a certified health coach to identify your underlying health imbalances can provide the best support for long-term relief.