Histamine Intolerance: Symptoms and Food Alternatives (List)

Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Pixabay / derneuemann

Histamine intolerance can cause various symptoms. We’ll tell you which foods those affected can eat and which are better to avoid.

Histamine – what is it?

Histamine is a natural messenger substance that plays an important role in various body functions. Histamine is particularly important in allergic reactions and for the immune system. In inflammatory reactions, histamine ensures that tissue swells, which can slow down the inflammation.

As a breakdown product of the protein-containing amino acids histamine is produced both by the body and in the form of food. Foods containing histamine are safe for healthy people, according to the German Allergy and Asthma Association (DAAB). The body’s own enzyme diamine oxidase (DAO) breaks down the histamine that is supplied and usually immediately compensates for any excess. In the case of histamine intolerance, however, this process is disturbed.

Histamine intolerance: causes

Alcohol can also cause histamine intolerance.
Alcohol can also cause histamine intolerance.
(Photo: CC0 / Pixabay / Free-Photos)

With a histamine intolerance, loud leads netdoktor.de either a Enzyme deficiency or limited availability of DAO enzymes to an excess of histamine in the body. The intolerance is therefore always a symptom of enzyme deficiency.

As the Medical journal reported, histamine intolerance can have various causes:

  • Certain Digestive tract disorders can trigger histamine intolerance. In addition, some can Drugs, other biogenic amines, and alcohol inhibit the activity of the DAO enzymes and thus trigger an excess of histamine. In these cases, histamine intolerance often goes away again if you avoid the drugs or other substances in question.
  • Doctors also discuss possible ones genetic causes for a DAO deficiency.

According to the Ärzteblatt about one percent of Germans a histamine intolerance, 80 percent of whom are middle-aged women. However, Netdoktor.de also adds that it is a controversial clinical picture: The symptoms vary greatly from patient to patient and can also be signs of other diseases of the digestive tract. In addition, histamine intolerance can only be proven with certainty with difficulty.

Histamine Intolerance – Symptoms

The symptoms of histamine intolerance are diverse and vary from person to person. Therefore there are unfortunately no generally valid signs. If you experience any of the symptoms below and suspect intolerance, see a doctor. He can clarify whether it is really a histamine intolerance or another disease.

Possible symptoms of histamine intolerance are according to netdoktor.de:

  • sudden reddening of the skin on the face, neck and décolleté
  • Wheals, pustules, and swelling
  • itching
  • ongoing or stuffy nose, similar to an allergy
  • Nausea, diarrhea and other gastrointestinal complaints
  • Dizziness and a headache
  • Circulatory problems and palpitations

Histamine intolerance – these foods should be avoided

Red wine and old cheese are particularly high in histamine.
Red wine and old cheese are particularly high in histamine.
(Photo: “CC0 Public Domain / Pixabay / Oldiefan”)

If you have histamine intolerance with the above symptoms, you should try at least for a while, especially foods containing histamine avoid to bring your body back into balance. In general, the older and longer the shelf life of a food, the higher its histamine content. Old cheese, cured meat, smoked fish, fermented foods and drinks or red wine should disappear from your diet if possible.

Note: With histamine intolerance, you not only have to avoid foods containing histamine, but also foods that inhibit the activity of the DAO enzymes. There are also foods that promote the release of histamine in the body.

You should avoid these foods if you are histamine intolerant:

  • Cheese: Longer matured varieties such as Camembert, Gouda, Parmesan, Emmentaler or Cheddar
  • Smoked and pickled fish
  • Meat: sausage, dried salami, smoked and cured ham
  • Alcohol: red and white wine, beer, champagne
  • Vinegar, excluding apple cider vinegar
  • Yeast products and soy products
  • Chocolate and other foods containing cocoa
  • black tea
  • legumes
  • Strawberries, Raspberries, oranges and other citrus fruits, bananas, pineapples, kiwi, pears
  • nuts, especially walnuts
  • Wheat germ

Some vegetables can also contain high amounts of histamine or promote the release of histamine in the body. This includes sauerkraut, Eggplant, spinach, avocado and tomato. The histamine content of foods can fluctuate very widely.

Note: The tolerance of various histamine-containing foods can vary from person to person. The best way to find out with the help of nutritional advice is which foods you tolerate well and which symptoms occur. A food diary is a good help here.

Food alternatives for histamine intolerance

Blueberries can be consumed without hesitation if you are histamine intolerant.
Blueberries can be consumed without hesitation if you are histamine intolerant.
(Photo: “CC0 Public Domain / Pixabay / congerdesign”)

In general, make sure to eat fresh and unprocessed foods as much as possible. Fermentation and fermentation processes make foods contain more histamine than when they are fresh.

These foods are usually low in histamine:

  • Cheese: Shortly matured types such as cream cheese, butter cheese, cottage cheese, mozzarella, ricotta or curd cheese
  • Meat: boiled ham, meat sausage
  • Fish: freshly caught white fish or high-quality frozen goods
  • Grains: rice, corn, Quinoa, Spelled, oats, Amaranth, Millet
  • Pasta: spelled, corn and rice noodles, yeast-free bread, crispbread, rice waffles
  • Sweet chestnut
  • Snacks: fruit gums, candies, pretzel sticks, potato chips
  • Herbal tea and fruit juices from the varieties listed below
  • vegetable milk products such as rice, almond, oat or Coconut milk
  • Milk, yogurt, cream, sour cream
  • honey and agave syrup
  • Apple Cider Vinegar
  • vegetable oils

In addition, if you have histamine intolerance, you can safely use the following types of fruit and vegetables:


  • Berries: blueberries, blueberries, currants, lingonberries and cranberries
  • Pome fruit: apples
  • Stone fruit: cherry, mango, apricot
  • melon


  • salad
  • potato
  • all types of cabbage
  • Beetroot
  • pumpkin
  • onion
  • radish
  • paprika
  • carrot
  • broccoli
  • cucumber
  • leek
  • zucchini
  • Corn
  • asparagus
  • garlic
  • radish

Since histamine intolerance varies from person to person, it is up to you to find out which of the alternatives is good for you. Give it a try and vary the foods.

With a conscious diet, you can usually get the symptoms of histamine intolerance under control very well. If the enzyme deficiency symptoms are triggered by medication, it is best to talk to your doctor about the extent to which it is possible to switch to a new preparation.

Read more on Utopia:

  • Healthy Eating: 10 Nutritional Myths
  • Food intolerance: the 7 most important allergenic foods
  • Rice milk: how healthy is the gluten-free, lactose-free milk substitute?


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