I’m a health journalist with with over 10 years research and international news production experience for 60 Minutes, CNN and the BBC, so believe me when I say, I know how important the facts are. Not only do I back up each claim on my site with numerous studies, I also make sure to get out there and put my journalism background to good use, by interviewing the histamine/mast cell/mastocytosis/inflammatory field’s leading medical experts, best selling authors and healers.
How did I get here? In 2008, after 20 years of being misdiagnosed with everything under the sun, I became so ill that I was forced to quit the career of a lifetime. I’d seen 68 doctors by this point and had been misdiagnosed with (some on the basis of tests and others on symptoms): recurrent sinusitis that required surgery (excess histamine), multiple sclerosis (I refused the MRI to confirm, turned out to be histamine causing symptoms), lupus, hepatitis (liver enzyme fluctuations are found in those with mast cell activation), lyme disease, kidney failure, liver failure, leukemia, ovarian cancer, breast cancer, uterine fibroids (these I had but they went away with a change in diet), endometriosis (might have had but refused surgery, no symptoms in the last five years), chronic urinary tract infections (negative cultures but still prescribed daily antibiotics for years turned out to be oxalic acid sensitivity), bladder cancer (when they couldn’t explain what was wrong), diabetes 1 & 2 (so many yearly tests for this, turned out to be oxalic acid sensitivity), STIs (oxalic acid), pelvic inflammatory disease (oxalic acid), brain tumor (suggested to me because of chronic migraine not responsive to any meds), bipolar disorder (prescribed multiple meds for this), generalized anxiety disorder (multiple meds), unipolar depression and borderline personality disorder (multiple meds). All psych symptoms resolved through dietary changes. I had two operations (breast and cervix – one of which proved completely unnecessary) and was told I needed another six, which I refused.
It’s only fair to mention most of the doctors I saw were in under developed countries in the Middle East and North Africa or in the south of Spain where I grew up. I have great respect for doctors who are compassionate and competent but sadly they were few and far between for the first 38 years of my life.
Finally diagnosed with histamine intolerance (HIT) in London in 2010, I wholeheartedly embraced the traditional hardcore elimination approach, low histamine diet and even more elimination of all foods that bothered me (fructose, salicylates, histamines oh my!). I was soon struggling to feed myself on just five foods, a spindly, skeletal figure of 52kg/114lbs on a 1.78m/5’10 frame, devoid of all joy in life, quietly nursing a hatred towards my body and all foods I was no longer able to eat.
The biggest slap in the face was that I was STILL experiencing a ton of intense symptoms in addition to following a dietary protocol that made life a misery.
Realising something was horribly amiss, I set out to cram in as much histamine, mast cell, inflammation, nutrition and biology information as I possibly could into the precious few hours not spent working my day job, blogging and cooking. And it paid off. Because I finally realised that what I had been doing to my body in these last few years was pretty much setting me up for a lifetime of misery. I had a hunch that whatever happened to break down my body years ago was now in the past, but that I was still somehow in a horrible cycle of inflammation, lack of nutrition, and stress, and it was all slowly killing me.
Well, maybe not so slowly…I still felt that my anaphylactic episodes warranted further investigation, and in March 2013 my condition was clarified as as Mast Cell Activation Syndrome by Dr Matito (under Dr Luis Escribano) in Toledo, Spain.
Immediately prescribed mast cell stabilising meds and antihistamines, I decided not to go down that route again. I had after all only recently managed to kick all meds to the curb: antihistamines, anti-inflammatories, benzodiazepines, antidepressants, sleeping pills, mood stabilisers, diuretics, pain killers, antibiotics, antibacterials, and quite a few more. So I put my newly hard won nutritional/histamine/mast cell research to work, embracing the fridge and fields as my medicine cabinet instead (along with a heaping dose of positivity, meditation and yoga).
Just over a year on a high nutrient, histamine balanced diet rich in antihistamine and anti-inflammatory foods has given me my life back. I am now the healthiest and happiest I’ve ever been (and I have the blood test results to prove it.). I believe that elimination has its place, for a very limited time, but the goal should always be to re-introduce high nutrient foods as soon as possible (or not eliminate them in the first place). I found that the more I robbed my body of vital nutrients, the less able it was to function normally, the worse my histamine/mast cell induced inflammation became, and the more fearful my body and brain became of all foods, not just inflammation causing ones.
I do not believe that a standard low histamine diet, will, under any circumstances, heal what ails us. To focus on histamine or salicylates or fructose, is, to quote the Brits, not to see the wood for the tress. Ultimately we’re dealing with inflammation. A low histamine diet consisting of freshly deep fried sweet potato fries with hamburgers with yeast and ketchup free buns, 3000 calorie carob bars with white sugar, root vegetable “potato” chips, gluten free cup cakes, tomato free wheat pasta, etc, while snubbing bananas, avocado, grapefruit and other higher histamine, far higher nutrient foods, just ‘aint gonna do it sadly. This lifestyle is about cleaning your body from the inside out. Going low histamine but eating the same old crappy stuff is barely going to help control symptoms, let alone heal. (Book a consultation if you’d like a little help).
Eating pretty much whatever I want now and feeling incredible!
Me at my sickest, reporting from Baghdad…
“Leaky gut” stomach before and after…
No one sums this up better than the incredible Dr Oz Show favourite, Oprah appearing, New York Times bestselling author (a few times over), Dr Fuhrman, in a quote he was kind enough to share with me for this blog:
“You can’t put this problem in a vacuum. Such as avoiding histamine containing foods, on a standard deficient and toxic diet. The body works in conjunction with thousands of complicated chemical reactions, and only with superior nutrition can the histamine sensitivity be better controlled. So exposure to thousands of phytochemicals and even to a low dose of histamine in their diet is good, not bad and can offer hope of getting better over the years to come.”
Couldn’t have said it better myself!
Please note: many of the studies referenced on this blog refer to in vitro, meaning conducted in a test tube. There is no guarantee that in vitro results can be replicated in humans. Much of the research is conducted using extracts at far greater dosage than we could possibly get from a human diet, unless we walk around with a feeding trough around our necks. Nonetheless, I have found the results of these studies to be a good general guideline when deciding on which antihistamine and anti-inflammatory foods to add to my diet, but your own results will vary. Please remember, even antihistamine and anti-inflammatory foods can hurt us, please always exercise caution and consult a medical practitioner before adding new foods.
It’s finally here! Man Food – a high nutrient antihistamine and anti-inflammatory ingredient filled book geared towards guys, women who love to work out, yoga like they mean it, or just load up on healing nutrients. Features my personal shopping list of antihistamine and anti-inflammatory foods.
Don’t know where to start? Book an online consultation with me. I can help you figure out a plan of attack, help you create your own food plan, discuss the role of meditation and yoga in healing, and how to get started with it all.
The Anti-cookbook and all liquid Anti-Detox Book, don’t treat any conditions, but feature a plethora of the high nutrient antihistamine and anti-inflammatory ingredients that have been instrumental in helping me feed myself on a limited diet. The Anti-cookbook features a six page list of antihistamine and anti-inflammatory foods and comes in regular and Paleo.
The Low Oxalate Cookbook features antihistamine and anti-inflammatory rich recipes.
Don’t miss the Low Histamine Beauty Survival Guide for non-toxic beauty tips, the skinny on histamine releasing (mast cell degranulating) beauty ingredients, antihistamine and anti-inflammatory beauty alternatives and the top brands natural brands I’ve found.
Take a peek at my other low histamine and antihistamine cookbooks for more high nutrient recipes
Don’t forget to sign up to my mailing list for the latest histamine research and news and recipes.
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