Managing your diet

The dynamism of the world of food means that there are constantly ongoing research projects which affect the way foods are perceived, received and accepted. We at HIT Awareness campaign plan to keep you updated with such modifications as they relate to food intolerances – in particular HIT.

By way of a reminder, the food list – or even any other food lists you will come across via different resources such as the internet – are ONLY to be viewed as a form of guidance, and not as authorities in themselves. This is because many HIT sufferers have to cope with multiple intolerances, such that commencing an elimination diet without a diagnosis by a doctor and consultation with a dietician is not advisable.

If you abide by this guidance, you should be able to notice a positive change after about 4 weeks of the elimination diet.

HIT sufferers have different thresholds, i.e. tolerance levels, so the next step after completing a successful elimination diet is to establish your threshold level, with the aim of gradually improving it over a period of time.

If you have ticked all the boxes up to this point, then we suppose it is safe to wish you the best towards a better quality of life.

It is important to eat foods that are low in histamine levels in accordance to your threshold. Please always remember that there is no such thing as an “histamine-free diet”!

Here are some general pointers:

  • Avoid or reduce eating canned foods and ready meals
  • Avoid or reduce eating ripened and fermented foods (older cheeses, alcoholic drinks, products containing yeast, stale fish)
  • Histamine levels in foods vary, depending on how ripe, matured or hygienic the foods are
  • As much as it is possible, only buy and eat fresh products
  • Don’t allow foods to linger outside the refrigerator – especially meat products
  • Ensure that your food preparation area (kitchen) is always kept clean – but don’t be manic!
  • Everyone has their own threshold; you will need to find yours
  • Consult a certified dietician about working out a balanced diet
  • Learn to cook! It can be loads of fun once you get into it

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)
  • 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 pasteurised 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:

  • Alcohol
  • Pickled or canned foods – sauerkrauts
  • Matured cheeses
  • Smoked meat products – salami, ham, sausages….
  • Shellfish
  • Beans and pulses – chickpeas, soy beans, peanuts
  • Nuts – walnuts, cashew nuts
  • Chocolates and other cocoa based products
  • Most citric fruits
  • Wheat based products
  • Vinegar
  • Ready meals
  • Salty snacks, sweets with preservatives and artificial colourings

Histamine liberators:

  • Most citric fruits – kiwi, lemon, lime, pineapple, plums…
  • Cocoa and chocolate
  • Nuts
  • Papaya
  • Beans and pulses
  • Tomatoes
  • Wheat germ
  • Additives – benzoate, sulphites, nitrites, glutamate, food dyes

Diamine Oxidase (DAO) blockers:

  • Alcohol
  • Black tea
  • Energy drinks
  • Green tea
  • Mate tea

Debatable:

  • Yoghurt – depends on the bacteria culture used
  • Egg white – it is a histamine liberator only when in its raw state

Other

  • Yeast – even though it does not contain histamine as such, yeast serves as a catalyst for histamine generation during manufacture. There is no yeast in the end product.

Sources include:

NMI Portal für Nahrungsmittel Intoleranz, Histaminunverträglichkeit – Richtige Ernährung
Maintz L, Novak N: Histamine and histamine intolerance, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2007
Jarisch, R. “Histaminunverträglichkeit”, Thieme Verlag, 2nd Edition