Histamine and Hormones - How to Find Balance with Nutrition
Guest post by Eleanor Gordon
Springtime is well and truly here - thank goodness we are now embracing warmer months! However, sadly this gorgeous time of year is often accompanied with the rise of Hay Fever. Many women know about springtime allergies, but not many are aware of the connection it has on placing an added burden on their hormonal symptoms.
This could look like:
- A young woman experiencing worsening PMS symptoms such as mood swings, fluid retention and painful menstrual cramps.
- A mother suddenly developing aggravating allergies soon after giving birth.
- A perimenopausal woman starting to experience Hay fever symptoms she’s never had before..
What do all these three women have in common?
Histamine and Oestrogen
It may be surprising to know, that there is a curious connection between women’s hormones and their allergy symptoms. Oestrogen (our ‘Queen of Sass’ hormone as I like to call her) promotes the release of an inflammatory mediator – histamine. Histamine is a vital chemical your immune system releases from your Mast cells in response to an allergen like pollen. The body requires certain levels of histamine to function. For example, histamine supports stomach acid production and helps increase your libido (normally no bad thing)!
However, too much histamine – which is more likely in springtime - can overload your immune system, leading to an overactive, inflammatory response resulting in ‘histamine intolerance’. For instance, histamine can function as a neurotransmitter, and can overstimulate the brain – aggravating brain fog, insomnia, and mood swings. Do these symptoms sound familiar? If so, that’s because these are the some of the symptoms of Premenstrual Disorder (PMS) and Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD).
It makes sense that you might experience ‘histamine intolerance’ symptoms just before your period, as this is the point in your cycle, alongside ovulation, when your Oestrogen is at its highest. If you are someone who also experiences a lot of ovulation pain, fatigue, and mood symptoms midcycle – there is a high chance that histamine intolerance may be an issue for you.
Oestrogen vs Progesterone
The problem occurs when there is too much Oestrogen in relation to Progesterone (your calming, balancing hormone). Unopposed oestrogen exacerbates histamine issues. This is because Oestrogen increases histamine, whilst at the same time - too much histamine stimulates your ovaries to make even more Oestrogen! Unless histamine intolerance and hormonal imbalance are addressed, this can result in a vicious cycle. I often find with clients who have conditions associated with Oestrogen excess, such as Endometriosis, PMS/PMDD, difficult Perimenopause symptoms – that working on reducing their ‘Histamine Intolerance’ can make a huge difference in reducing their symptoms.
So how can you work on addressing Histamine Intolerance during seasonal allergy season?
- Trial reducing histamine stimulating foods. Here are a few common ones: dairy, bananas and alcohol (especially when oestrogen is at its highest)
- Trial reducing histamine containing foods. Here are a few common ones: bone broth, fermented and aged foods (especially when oestrogen is at its highest)
- Look at supporting your Gut as this is where your DAO enzyme is made (enzyme needed to clear histamine) and where over 70% of your immune system resides
- Help balance Oestrogen by including foods that promote oestrogen detoxification such as cruciferous vegetables – Kale, Broccoli, Bok Choi, Watercress, Rocket
- Support healthy Progesterone production with key nutrients such as B6, Magnesium and Vitamin C
Another great way to support your overall immune resilience so that you can enjoy this time of year and not be burdened by annoying hormonal symptoms - is to make sure you consume foods that are naturally rich in antihistamine properties.
I try to encourage my clients to try and include an abundance of antioxidant, antihistamine rich foods in their diet over the springtime, and one of my absolute favourites are berries – Lingonberries in particular. These little berries are rich in the flavonoid quercetin. Quercetin acts as a powerful antioxidant - stimulating the immune system and restricting the release of histamine in the body; relieving allergy symptoms in conditions like hay fever.
Arctic Berries Lingonberry powder is such a fantastic, tasty and easy way to include this superfood in your diet. I love to put it into my smoothies, porridge, or simply swirl a teaspoon in some water when in the need of a quick antioxidant boost!