What is Histamine?

The definition given by Allergy UK is:

“Histamine is a chemical which occurs naturally in certain foods. This is also one of the chemicals that is released in the body as part of an allergic reaction, causing the typical itching, sneezing, wheezing and swelling allergy symptoms. We all have an enzyme (diamine oxidase) which breaks down any histamine that we absorb from a histamine-containing food. When we eat a food which contains histamine it does not affect us. However, some people have a low level of this enzyme. When they eat too many histamine-rich foods they may suffer ‘allergy-like’ symptoms such as headaches, rashes, itching, diarrhoea, and vomiting or abdominal pain and are referred to as being Histamine Intolerant.”

Histamine occurs in the body in two ways – it is either created by the body during allergic reactions, or it enters the body through the food we eat. It is very common in a number of health issues including bloating, food intolerance and IBS, among many other digestive conditions. One of the reasons for this is that the body cannot eliminate histamine fast enough because of a lack of the diamine oxidase enzyme, often made worse with a high histamine diet.

Many foods contain histamine including:


  • Champagne ,wine, beer, cider
  • Coffee, cocoa, chocolate
  • Fermented soya products including miso and tempeh
  • Blue cheese, parmesan cheese, camembert, emmental, old gouda, cheddar and other hard cheeses, fresh and hard sheep and goat cheeses
  • Cured meat especially pork products e.g. sausages and other processed meats (ham, salami, pepperoni, bacon)
  • Fresh or canned tuna, sardines, mackerel, salmon, herring, processed fish products e.g fish pastes, smoked or dried pickled fish
  • Tomatoes, pickled cabbage (sauerkraut), broad beans, aubergine, spinach
  • Peanuts, tree nuts
  • Oranges, tangerines, bananas, pineapple, grapes, strawberries.
Remove the histamine - remove the problem