The Role of Bacteria in Histamine Production, Degradation, and its Impact on Human Health
Do you ever experience symptoms like hives, headaches, abdominal pain or diarrhea after eating certain foods? If so, you may have a condition called histamine intolerance. Histamine is a chemical messenger produced naturally in the body that helps regulate immune responses, digestion, sleep cycles and more. But when there is too much accumulation of histamine, it can lead to a variety of unpleasant symptoms.
In this article, we’ll explore the complex relationship between histamine, gut bacteria and enzymes. You’ll learn exactly how bacteria and enzymes influence histamine levels in your body, and how understanding these connections can help treat annoying symptoms of histamine intolerance.
What Are Biogenic Amines and Why Do They Matter?
Biogenic amines like histamine are chemicals produced in foods by bacterial fermentation. They can trigger food intolerances when consumed in excess. Diamine oxidase (DAO) is an intestinal enzyme that helps break down histamine and regulate its levels in your body. When DAO activity is impaired, biogenic amines can accumulate and cause histamine intolerance symptoms.
Getting to Know Histamine
Histamine plays several important roles in the body. It helps regulate the immune system, influences sleep-wake cycles, controls stomach acid production and intestinal movement, and more. Histamine is synthesized from the amino acid histidine by mast cells, basophils, platelets, and certain white blood cells.
Normally, histamine levels are carefully controlled by DAO and other degrading enzymes. But when too much histamine accumulates, it can cause widened blood vessels, increased mucus, muscle contractions and other effects that lead to symptoms. Common symptoms of excess histamine include hives, headaches, hypotension, diarrhea, sneezing, anxiety, abdominal pain and more.
Multiple factors influence histamine levels. Certain foods, especially fermented items like sauerkraut, yogurt and aged cheeses, contain sizable amounts of histamine. Gut bacteria can produce histamine, while intestinal enzymes like DAO help degrade it. Impaired DAO activity is the most common cause of elevated histamine.
Measuring and Managing Histamine
Researchers use sophisticated laboratory techniques like ELISA assays and HPLC analysis to accurately quantify histamine in foods and bodily fluids. Levels above 0.5 mg per 100 g in fish, cheese and meat are considered potentially hazardous.
Factors like temperature, salt content, pH and oxygenation impact how much histamine bacteria produce in foods. Harder, longer-aged cheeses tend to be higher in histamine than soft, fresh varieties. Freezing fish after catching helps curb histamine formation. For sensitive individuals, sticking to low-histamine foods is the safest approach.
Histamine Intolerance 101
Histamine intolerance results when excess histamine builds up faster than the body can break it down. Up to 1% of the population may have impaired DAO activity that reduces their capacity to degrade histamine. Many more people are sensitive to dietary histamine without a true enzyme deficiency.
Symptoms of histamine intolerance usually occur shortly after consuming trigger foods. They include rashes, headaches, diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea, nasal congestion, anxiety, irregular heartbeat and difficulty regulating blood pressure. Symptoms are highly individual – some sufferers react primarily to fermented foods like yogurt, while others are more sensitive to fish, chocolate or egg whites.
Compared to healthy individuals, those with histamine intolerance have lower tolerance for dietary histamine. Strict avoidance of histamine-rich foods provides the only reliable relief for many sufferers. Antihistamines provide temporary symptom relief, while DAO supplements improve the degradation of histamine in the body.
Bacteria’s Role in Histamine Production
Many different species of gut bacteria contribute to histamine production, including certain lactobacilli, enterobacteria and clostridia. Within the complex gut microbiome, some families are more involved in histamine formation than others.
Lactic acid bacteria frequently used in fermented foods have an ambiguous relationship with histamine. Certain strains are high histamine producers, including Lactobacillus casei/paracasei, Lactobacillus reuteri and Lactobacillus buchneri. Others actually degrade histamine, like Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Lactobacillus plantarum and probiotic Bifidobacteria.
Specific strains make a big impact. Lactobacillus parabuchneri FAM21731 is a potent histamine producer, while Lactobacillus casei TISTR1341 shows minimal histamine formation. Developing custom probiotic blends with low histamine potential is an active area of innovation.
Histamine generation is tied to conditions that promote bacterial growth. Imbalances like small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) encourage histamine-producing bacteria. Impaired intestinal barriers also allow more histamine to enter circulation. Diet, stress levels, antibiotic use and food allergies influence these bacterial factors.
DAO Enzymes: The Great Histamine Degraders
DAO enzymes act like pac-men, traveling through blood and bodily fluids chowing down on histamine. DAO is produced by intestinal enterocytes and found in especially high concentrations in the jejunum and ileum regions of the small intestine.
DAO activity opposes histamine generation by breaking it down. Measurements of DAO activity reflect the body’s overall ability to degrade histamine. Those with low DAO are less equipped to handle dietary histamine loads.
DAO belongs to a class of enzymes called amine oxidases that degrade histamine and other biogenic amines. Another enzyme called histamine-N-methyltransferase (HNMT) also helps remove histamine by chemical transformation in intestinal mucosa and kidneys. Working together, DAO and HNMT regulate histamine to prevent excessive buildup.
DAO activity can be impaired by intestinal diseases like Crohn’s and celiac, SIBO, alcoholism, stress and certain medications. Inflammation, high histamine levels, imbalances in gut bacteria and genetics may also suppress DAO. Improving gut health is key for optimal DAO activity.
Dietary Considerations for Histamine Intolerance
Major dietary sources of histamine include fermented foods, aged cheeses, cured meats, fish, spinach, tomatoes, eggplant, processed foods and alcohol. Cooking, pickling and fermenting enhance histamine levels.
Not everyone tolerates foods high in histamine equally. Individualized intolerances depend on DAO activity, gut microbiome composition and integrity of intestinal barriers. Many sufferers must stick to low-histamine diets and avoid triggers to prevent symptoms.
Cheese can be a major source of dietary histamine. Aged, mold-ripened varieties like cheddar, Camembert and Gouda tend to be highest. Fresh mozzarella, cottage cheese and cream cheese are safer options. The length of cheese ripening and hardness are good predictors of histamine content.
Research is ongoing to develop food processing techniques that reduce histamine. Flash freezing fish immediately after catching helps prevent histamine formation by gut bacteria. Using probiotic strains or lactic acid bacteria that degrade histamine in fermented foods is another promising innovation.
Treating Histamine Intolerance
For those with recurrent symptoms, reducing dietary histamine offers the most reliable long-term relief. Antihistamines only provide temporary respite by blocking histamine receptors. Identifying and eliminating trigger foods requires trial and error. Keeping a symptom journal helps pinpoint personal intolerances.
DAO enzyme supplements like SeeBeyond Shop’s DAO-HIST offer a revolutionary new approach by enhancing the body’s natural ability to degrade histamine. Oral DAO supplements taken before meals provide extra enzyme activity exactly where it’s needed most – in the digestive tract.
Several other treatments show promise for improving the underlying issues driving histamine intolerance. Antibiotics or antimicrobials may suppress problematic bacteria. Probiotic strains that degrade histamine could help rebalance the gut microbiome. Histamine oxidase is an enzyme similar to DAO that helps remove excess histamine.
Improving gut integrity and reducing inflammation through diet, stress reduction and lifestyle changes also support healthy histamine regulation.
Hopefully this information provides insight into the complex interplay between gut bacteria, enzymes and histamine. While histamine is an important molecule with many beneficial roles, too much of it causes annoying symptoms in those with impaired DAO activity.
Paying attention to high histamine foods, gut microbiome balance and enzyme function are key to taming histamine intolerance. Exciting new enzyme supplements and probiotics specifically targeting histamine offer real hope to stop symptoms for good.
Take Control of Your Histamine Intolerance
If you struggle with recurrent symptoms like hives, headaches, diarrhea and abdominal pain after eating certain foods, you may benefit from supplemental support to lower your histamine levels.
SeeBeyond Shop offers the enzyme supplement DAO-HIST designed specifically to degrade excess histamine from food sources. DAO-HIST provides the diamine oxidase your body needs to properly break down and clear extra histamine before it can cause symptoms.
DAO-HIST is expertly formulated to:
- Increase critical DAO enzyme activity to better metabolize histamine from food
- Reduce symptoms like rashes, headaches, hypotension and digestive upset tied to histamine intolerance
- Allow you to enjoy more foods by improving tolerance to dietary histamine
- Provide supportive relief alongside a low-histamine diet
If you struggle with histamine intolerance or suspect you may have impaired DAO activity, give DAO-HIST a try today and take control of your symptoms! Learn more about this innovative supplement by booking a consultation with SeeBeyond Shop’s experts today.