A look at histamines from our diet and wine.
If you've been following Ullo for some time, you'll know that histamines aren't always our friend. There are certainly times when they are needed, but there are other times where we wish we could explain to them that they are overreacting. Since we can't control this dynamic through our own will, our favorite way to mitigate histamine inconveniences is to learn more about them. Specifically, we think it's important to know how we get them from our diet so we can modify that … especially on days when we want to enjoy some red wine!
First, it is essential to note that not all people will suffer from histamines equally. Some people lack or are deficient in enzymes that regulate the histamine levels in your blood. Another way of saying that is some people can't metabolize or break down histamine when the excess amount is no longer needed. For people who lack these enzymes don't produce enough, histamines will likely always present a problem. Nonetheless, there are some ways to work around this.
When looking at histamines from a lack or deficiency of enzymes perspective, the best way to limit their effects is to prevent excess ingestion of them. Unfortunately, like many nefarious chemicals and compounds that are harmful to our body, histamines are more prevalent in certain foods than others and especially in foods that have been processed. This, unfortunately, makes it difficult to honestly know what is causing your body to have higher than normal histamine levels. Still, even so, there are certain foods that we know have higher levels of histamines.
For the wine lovers among us, we need to recognize that wine checks two boxes for histamines; wine is both fermented and contains alcohol.
Fermented foods – Fermented foods have been acted upon by microorganisms such as fungi or bacteria. Fermentation is essentially the breakdown of one substance into another – the one we all know and love is wine, where yeast converts one molecule of grape sugar (glucose) into alcohol and carbon dioxide. However, this is an oversimplification because the yeast will metabolize a number of different compounds and release much more than just alcohol and carbon dioxide to survive and ferment all the grape juice. It is during this process that microorganisms fermenting foods can create histamines. Some other high histamine foods caused by microorganisms include fermented dairy products, cured meats, fermented soy products, including miso and soy sauce, kimchi, and kombucha.
While there are many benefits to fermented foods, it may be best to avoid them when looking to lower your exposure to histamines.
High alcohol wines - Not surprisingly, this is why we can have high levels of histamines. Still, it should also be noted that alcohol can inhibit enzymatic activity in our bodies… and if the goal is to avoid excess histamines, it will be best to select wines with lower alcohol by volume if possible.
Unfortunately, since wine is fermented, has alcohol present, and is mainly consumed at the end of the day when your body has had 12-16 hours to be exposed to other histamine causing foods, it isn't surprising to see so many people have issues with small amounts of wine causing histamine side effects.
Now that you are armed with this knowledge, you may think twice about going with a prosciutto and wine pairing and instead opt for something that keeps histamines in your body at a level you can handle.