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Adrenal Function in Allergies Adrenal function plays an important role in allergic reactions. Most allergies involve the release of histamine and other pro-inflammatory substances (substances that produce inflammation). Cortisol, one of the primary hormones produced by the adrenal glands, is a strong anti-inflammatory (a substance that reduces inflammation). In fact, the amount of cortisol circulating in the blood is a key factor in controlling the level of inflammatory reactions in the body. For this reason, healthy adrenal function plays an important role in mediating the histamine release and inflammatory reactions that produce the symptoms experienced with allergies.* When the adrenals are fatigued, it is more difficult to produce the additional amounts of cortisol necessary to adequately counteract the inflammatory allergic reactions.* People going through times of adrenal fatigue may notice that they seem to have more allergies or their allergies seem to get worse.* Conversely, the more histamine released, the harder the adrenals have to work to produce enough cortisol the more fatigued they may become. It is therefore not surprising that people with food and environmental allergies commonly tend to experience adrenal fatigue as well.* This can set up a vicious cycle of reduced cortisol allowing histamine to inflame the tissues more, leading to deepening adrenal fatigue as well as to bigger allergic reactions.* Actively supporting your adrenal glands and eliminating or reducing your exposure to foods and other substances that cause allergic or sensitivity reactions can help break this cycle as well as strengthen adrenal function.* Food allergens can interfere with daily functioning and become a profound stress on your adrenals, so it is important to track down and eliminate these food sensitivities and allergies in order to both decrease your allergy load and promote adrenal health.* For more information about allergies and adrenal function and how to determine if you are experiencing allergies, read Chapter 14 in Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome. If you think you may be reacting to certain foods, you may find it helpful to look at a list of the most common food allergens and access lists of foods that contain them.
Everything You Need To Know About Histamine Intolerance
Do you experience unexplained headaches or anxiety? What about irregular menstrual cycles? Does your face flush when you drink red wine? Do you get an itchy tongue or runny nose when you eat bananas, avocados, or eggplants? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you could have a histamine intolerance. What is histamine? Histamine is a chemical involved in your immune system, proper digestion, and your central nervous system. As aneurotransmitter, it communicates important messages from your body to your brain. It is also a component of stomach acid, which is what helps you break down food in your stomach. You might be most familiar with histamine as it relates to the immune system. If you’ve suffered from seasonal allergies or food allergies, you may have noticed that antihistamine medications like Zytrec, Allegra or Benedryl provide quick relief of your symptoms. This is because histamine’s role in the body is to cause an immediate inflammatory response. It serves as a red flag in your immune system, notifying your body of any potential attackers. Histamine causes your blood vessels to swell, or dilate, so that your white blood cells can quickly find and attack the infection or problem. The histamine buildup is what gives you a headache and leaves you feeling flushed, itchy and miserable. This is part of the body’s natural immune response, but if you don’t break down histamine properly, you could develop what we call histamine intolerance. Because it travels throughout your bloodstream, histamine can affect your gut, lungs, skin, brain, and entire cardiovascular system, contributing to a wide range of problems often making it difficult to pinpoint and diagnose. Common symptoms of histamine intolerance include:
In addition to the histamine produced inside your body, there are also a variety of foods that naturally contain histamine, cause the release of histamine, or block the enzyme that breaks down histamine, diamine oxidase. Histamine-Rich Foods:
Fermented alcoholic beverages, especially wine, champagne and beer
Vegetables: avocados, eggplant, spinach, and tomatoes
Smoked fish and certain species of fish: mackerel, mahi-mahi, tuna, anchovies, sardines
Many artificial preservatives and dyes
Whew! That was a long list. You might be wondering now what on earth you CAN eat, so I've made a list of low histamine foods as well. Remember that freshness is key when you have histamine intolerance! Here's a list of low-histamine foods:
How do I break down histamine? Once formed, histamine is either stored or broken down by an enzyme. Histamine in the central nervous system is broken down primarily by histamine N-methyltransferase (HMT), while histamine in the digestive tract is broken down primarily by diamine oxidase (DAO). Though both enzymes play an important role in histamine break down, the American Society for Clinical Nutrition found that DAO is the main enzyme responsible for breaking down ingested histamine. So if you’re deficient in DAO, you likely have symptoms of histamine intolerance. Causes of Low DAO
Although histamine blockers, a class of acid-reducing drugs, seem like they would help prevent histamine intolerance, these medications can actually deplete DAO levels in your body. Testing for Histamine Intolerance Elimination/Reintroduction Remove the above high histamine foods for 30 days and reintroduce them one at a time by following the guidelines in myeBook. Blood Testing I use a test through Dunwoody labs to test for histamine levels and DAO levels. A high ratio of histamine/DAO signifies that you are ingesting too much histamine and that you don’t have enough DAO to break it down. Trial of DAO If testing is unavailable to you, you could simply try a diet low in histamine and add DAO supplementation at each meal. If your symptoms resolve, you could have low DAO. How to Treat Histamine Intolerance? Remove the high histamine foods for 1-3 months. Add in a supplement of DAO by taking two pills at each meal. Most importantly, find the root cause for the histamine intolerance. If you're on a medication that is causing the intolerance, working with your physician to wean off of these medications is essential. The main causes I see in my clinic are SIBO and gluten intolerance, which cause a leaky gut. In this case, I suggest reading my post on healing the gut and over time you should be able to stop the DAO and go back to eating histamine-containing foods. If you're currently suffering from histamine intolerance, you may not have to avoid these foods forever. It can be a short-term solution until your histamine or DAO levels return to their optimal ranges. Depending on your unique situation, you may find that you tolerate some foods better than others, so I encourage you to stay optimistic as you learn important information about your body!
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