Histamine intolerance (HI) is a broad topic. We plan to cover over the next few months (weekly).
Today's histamine intolerance topic is gluten (intolerance) and its role in this common health issue.
(that's many intolerances)!
It is all relevant, so stay here with us because it will make sense for you over the following few blog articles, and you'll have the bigger picture.
Gluten is a protein found in many grains (the most common one would be wheat).
The problem with gluten is that many people are intolerant, which can create histamine intolerance. (again, that's many intolerances, lol)!
Some folks in the health field consider gluten to be an anti-nutrient. I am not 100% sure why but I feel maybe it could be because:
- Gluten is highly inflammatory for most people (inflammation is at the root of many diseases and health problems - including gluten intolerance and histamine intolerance)
- Gluten is particularly problematic for people with thyroid issues (we will go into depth about this soon, so be sure to stick around)
- Gluten-sensitive individuals who consume gluten might trigger a negative response in histamine (by turning on the histamine receptors)
- Gluten can encourage the release of zonulin, which can lead to leaky gut syndrome*
*Leaky gut syndrome is another cause of histamine intolerance. It will be how leaky gut can cause histamine intolerance. Stay tuned for this blog coming soon.
Not everyone is aware of their gluten intolerance, and testing at the doctor isn't always reliable.
How come it is not always reliable?
Testing (at the doctor) can be unreliable because they often are hyper-focused on ruling out celiac disease rather than seeing if you are gluten intolerant.
These are not the same issue. Celiac is a serious and sometimes life-threatening condition. In contrast, gluten intolerance is often not as severe but can be problematic.
The tests that the doctor might suggest or run might be:
- A transglutaminase IgA test (tTG-IgA)
- IgA endomysial antibody test (EMA)
- Total Serum IgA
- Deamidated gliadin peptide (DGP IgA and IgG)
- Radiology (to see if there's wall thickening, slight bowel dilation, vascular changes). These things may indicate celiac disease)
You can also order test kits online and then you would send them away to their laboratory. Ordering online might be a more affordable way to test!
How to Determine if You are Gluten Intolerant?
The best way to test for gluten intolerance is to do an elimination diet.
An is where you take out all potentially irritating foods (in this instance, it would be all things that contain gluten).
To truly gauge intolerance, you would need to give up all gluten foods and anything containing gluten for some time. 30-60 days straight (zero gluten consumption) is the recommended timeframe.
Eliminating gluten can be challenging for many people who consume many gluten foods. Still, it is worth pushing yourself past your limitations.
What is waiting on the other side could be better health and happiness.
Ok, So I am Ready to Try Eliminating Gluten; Now What?
Go Slow to Go Fast
Suppose you are entirely overwhelmed and stressed at the thought of giving up bread, pasta and other gluten-rich foods. In that case, I say "go slow to go fast", and I mean to wean off gradually.
It is an individual process here as each person may eat various amounts of gluten, so try to cut down your intake initially. If it is generally daily, perhaps try having it every second day.
As you get used to this, try cutting it down to just two days a week and eventually, you will not have any at all as you find alternatives to enjoy.
Stay gluten-free for 30-60 days, as this time is critical to testing. You will also experience some healing during this time (depending).
It depends upon your unique situation and what foods you are still consuming. Stress also needs to be managed as much as possible as this can hinder healing.
Keep a Food & Symptom Diary
Journalling is key to monitoring and measuring your progress and triggers. On the days you don't eat gluten, monitor how you feel and write down key points. Key points are:
- What you ate
- How did you feel when you ate
- How you feel after this food
Another thing you might like to factor into your note-taking is what you were doing while eating. Were you on any device (phone, tablet, computer etc.)
Having this data for yourself can be incredibly useful and help you navigate your food intolerances. You might also eliminate dairy, sugar, alcohol, coffee, carbs, or processed foods.
The best elimination diet I have found (by a country mile) is the carnivore diet. I know this diet is controversial, and I feel it is also highly misunderstood. Still, I have had incredible healing and success with my health on this diet. Learn more about it here.
Timing for Your Elimination Diet
Choosing a time that is doable for you is crucial to your success. Participating in an elimination diet during Christmas could add more stress to your life, and stress hinders healing and impacts health negatively.
Suppose you can be that strong and disciplined to do it during the Christmas holidays; more power to you! You're a god damn warrior woman!
If you can time it through the year when you have less going on with social commitments, this can be better.
Gluten-Containing Foods List
The list of things that contain gluten is too long to name here, but we will discuss the major ones here. The way to make it easy on yourself is to shop local at farmers' markets and avoid the middle aisles at the supermarket.
The more you eat whole foods (unprocessed and natural), the better off you will be in all areas of your wellbeing - gluten-histamine intolerance included!
Main Gluten Foods to Watch Out for:
Most grains: Wheat (regular, spelt, Kamut). Wheat products (couscous, semolina, farro, einkorn, bulgar). Rye and barley
Gluten Foods: Bread, pitta, bread rolls, focaccia, panini, sourdough, croissant, pastries, bakery goods, packaged foods, crackers, biscuits, cakes, confectionery, many breakfast cereals, breadcrumbs, coatings, croutons, plant-based meat substitutes, malt extract/malt syrup/,malt vinegar/malt beverages, brewer's yeast
Foods that Might Contain Gluten: Potato fries, gravies/sauces, bouillon, stock, soy sauce, dressings and vinegar, processed meats, frozen foods, pre-prepared meals (convenience meals), snacks, snack bars, protein bars, potato crisps, tortilla chips, most junk food, canned/packet soup, granola, meat stuffing
Alcohol: Beer, ale, lager, dessert wines, malt beverages, wine coolers
Other Things that May Contain Gluten: medications (pharmaceutical drugs), some vitamin supplements, communion wafers (at church)
Gluten Alternatives (for carbohydrates)
Pseudo-grains: Buckwheat, quinoa, millet
Grains: Rice, sorghum, amaranth
Tubers: Tapioca, cassava, sweet potato, potato, celeriac
Pasta: Corn, rice, buckwheat
Note: Be aware that many plant foods above can contain anti-nutrients and toxins. E.g - quinoa contains saponins that can cause severe digestive upset, and potatoes contain oxalates that can lead to kidney and gallstones over time. Lentils contain high levels of lectins etc.
Sticking to more low-histamine animal proteins and other LH foods can be very helpful here. Stay tuned for our Histamine food blogs coming soon.
I hope you enjoyed today's article. Try an elimination diet if you feel you have a gluten or histamine intolerance (or both)!
For More Information on Histamine Intolerance
Read our other related blogs:
- Histamine Series Part 1. Nutrient Deficiencies and Histamine Intolerance
- Histamine Series part 3. Probiotics Yes or No?
Disclaimer: This article is strictly informational and not intended as health advice. Statements made have not been evaluated by the TGA and are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent. One should always consult with their trusted health professional before adding a new supplement to their diet.