The Low Histamine Diet

Well, the day finally arrived. Yesterday morning my refrigerator had no ferments at all. For the past few weeks, I have been finishing up all my sauerkraut and kimchi in preparation for my latest dietary test. For the next 30 to 60 days, I will go on a highly restrictive low histamine diet. I’m trying to determine if histamines play a role in my late-night headaches.

There are two groups I will need to restrict. Group one are foods with high levels of histamines, which are primarily fermented foods. Group two are foods that stimulate the body to release higher levels of histamines. The full list is quite extensive. I’m going to tackle the foods that have high levels and that I consume the most. I’ll probably screw this test up a few times, but if I can achieve a 95% or greater reduction, I think I’ll have solid data.

Foods HIGH in Histamines to AVOID

  • Fermented vegetables (kimchi, sauerkraut, etc).
  • Fermented dairy (cheese, yogurt, kefir)
  • Fermented meats (sausage, salami, etc)
  • Fermented alcohol (beer, wine, cider)
  • Fermented soy (natto, miso)
  • Vinegar, Ketchup, Mustard
  • Yeast Food (Marmite, Vegemite)


My kimchi will be missed.

Foods to AVOID that Stimulate the Release of Histamine

  • Bananas
  • Strawberries
  • Tomatoes
  • Pineapple
  • Kiwi
  • Spinach
  • Eggplant
  • Chocolate

The Questionable List

I believe the heavy histamine problems are on the two lists above. These are ones where the consensus was less certain. As the test proceeds, I can keep an eye on these as well.

  • Avocados
  • Shellfish
  • Egg Whites
  • Peanuts
  • Nuts (other than almonds)
  • Canned Fish – This appears to get high histamines from storage, but if consumed upon opening is OK.
  • Spices: cinnamon, chili powder, cloves, anise, nutmeg, curry powder, and paprika
  • Black tea
  • Sunflower seeds

This will be the toughest test ever for me, as I consider kimchi and sauerkraut to be essential foods. It doesn’t help that The Art of Fermentation just arrived in my mail.


Add yours

  1. Ever visit the Primal Parent website? Maybe you should just eat raw meat? 🙂
    I’ve done it before….but I prefer slightly cooked.

  2. @Gman – I ate some raw sheep liver a few days ago. As far as histamines go, the only connection I saw to meat was fermented or if the meat was improperly stored.

  3. Judging from this list, almost everything my body seems to do well on is a high-histamine food.
    And all it seems to hate is FODMAP crap. Which I’ve never really liked anyway.
    I guess you could call me lucky.

  4. Well at least coffee isn’t on any of those lists 🙂

  5. Good luck, although I don’t know which outcome would be better. I know how you love your ferments, but it’s also good to find an answer.

    Most of the lists I’ve read put aged and smoked fish and meats in the avoid column, and that definitely matches my experience. Perhaps my worse flareup ever was from canned sardines that I ate immediately after opening. Sausage also tends to be bad, although it can vary a lot from batch to batch.

    I get feedback within 10-20 minutes of eating high histamine/tyramine food (post nasal drip, flushing and heart palpitations), so this has actually been a lot easier to figure out that my other health issues. I doubt your results will be so obvious, though.

  6. @Richard – I think I will move canned fish to the avoid list. Without mayo (vinegar) or kimchi, eating canned fish would be a tasteless action.

  7. Glenn Whitney

    May 20, 2012 — 2:30 am

    Yikes! That’s quite a list!

    As I write, I’m cooking up a big batch of veal bones and root vegetables to make broth and also a gelatanous “terrine”.

    That’s probably as nutritious and non inflammatory as it gets, but I don’t know if I could eat it more than once every other day…

    As noted above, ground grass-fed beef, lightly sauteed – I could probably eat that once a day, every day…

    Forza MAS!


  8. I could eat some form of egg or fish salad everyday and not get tired of it…then again
    as far as I know….I really don’t have any allergic reactions to anything…

  9. @All – I consider the low histamine test to be WIN-WIN. Either it cures my headaches or I am able to give fermented foods a full pardon. I do know people with food sensitivities that are able to get by with no symptoms when they limit exposure to once a week. But I’ll cross that bridge if I ever get to it.

  10. I mentioned magnesium on another post, there is a book called Magnesium Miracle, and worth a read. I have had loads of problems with reactions to food via skin (hives/urticaria) and eczema, and histamine problems. So interesting to see your research. Mine has all virtually cleaned up with more protein and fats in my diet. I used to not be able to eat cheese without breaking out in hives. I drink whole fat milk in my coffee. Too much chocolate and I do get bumps and rashes but it depends on the chocolate, some I am fine with. I look forward to your research on histamines. I am sensitive to tobacco, aubergine, tomatoes (ok if cooked) but not raw. I used to not be able to tolerate wines but that has improved but not beer. Vinegars too are not good but fermented sauerkraut is ok. Very quick reaction to wheat in my diet and easy to cut that out. Thyroid can be implicated and worth looking into. Low thyroid means everything works less efficiently and this can be part of over sensitivity to food to. We are made up of so many interconnected complex systems but so interesting to do research as there is so much to still discover.

  11. I have to say good bye to kimchi
    there are too many foods to avoid but Im more than willing to try

    Histamine is soooo bad on my body


  12. Hi, I am very histamine intolerant, yet I feel the pathway to fixing this is in restoring my gut flora – fermented foods are an excellent source of gut flora. However, whilst I have read much about avoiding them, I have found snippets here and there about how the histamine content of ferments changes throughout the process, and is also affected by the salt concentration. Apparently a 10-12 week fermentation for cabbage will result in a brew low in histamines. Also doing it in a low oxygen anaerobic environment is important at keeping the histamines down. I have just bought a Pickl-it jar to experiment with after I did a long ferment with my cabbage. I felt fantastic after having a pile of it – really clear in the head. Then after stirring it up whilst eating it, and topping it up with more brine (I did not accurately determine the concentration) the ferment changed smell and I had some and I felt horrible. I think the low oxygen is important. If anyone else knows about this – let me know please.

    I am very sick of feeling so tired and dizzy and my sensitivity has recently gone through the roof after an infection, and I feel like there is so little I can eat. I am very keen to fix my gut. 🙂

  13. @Sarah – Do you have a source that says histamine levels fall with a 10-12 week ferment?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.