Discover more from Intolerant-a newsletter about eating superbly with food intolerances
Covid and Histamine Intolerance
First of all, if you googled your way here, please know that I am sorry to hear that. If, however, you’re just a dedicated subscriber/reader well then hello my friend, sorry to have been gone so long. You see my sparkiness has taken a hit, which I blogged about here and you are under no obligation to read it, but if you do, well that might be fun for both of us. I am right now trying to re-spark myself after months of feeling a bit not-quite-right-in-the-brain. Thanks for coming along for the ride!
So what is going on with Covid and histamines? There’s me, and then there’s the rest of the world. For me, as far as I can tell, despite some lagging and pesky issued (see blog, above), Covid did not trigger MCAS (Mast Cell Activation Syndrome), nor has it made my histamine intolerance worse. That could be for a number of reasons, including the fact that my infection was post-vaccine, tremendous luck or really, literally, anything else. Or also it could be that I was already eating enough below the threshold of my own personal histamine intolerance, that an incremental increase in histamine sensitivity was not going to make a difference to me, personally. (for reference: I am about six months’ out from Covid.)
For people for whom Covid has brought an onslaught of hives, rashes, swelling, asthma, inflammation, stomach woes or other, they may or may not be looking at at least histamine intolerance and/or also MCAD/MCAS. I am not here to diagnose you, I am both not a doctor and and not your doctor.
But (and nothing against medicine), the cheapest, easiest way to figure out if histamines are what are bothering you is to eat lower histamine for a couple of weeks and see how you feel. Quick primer, though there is more: skip ferments (soysauce, wine, blue cheese, yogurt), leftovers (especially protein), spinach, avocado, overripe fruit, aged meats, and anything you don’t know what’s in it. You may or may not want to drop gluten for a while. Varying opinions on that. Beans are not great for me, personally, though fava beans, which we get fresh sit just fine. Mysteries of life.
I get a lot of emails from friends of friends who are dealing with that they think is HI, and though I suggest these actions (overhaul, rethink, eat simply) to people routinely, many times they don’t want to change how they eat. I get it. Eating is important. It nourishes us and perhaps more importantly, it makes us feel emotionally connected to people and places and times. But if the food you are eating is making you feel unwell, you are mortgaging minutes or hours or days or weeks to feel connected, only to feel terrible. You cannot feel good and bad at the same time.
So how to start? Try eating foods that are non-reactive to you. Simple foods. Try eating only food you prepare yourself, so you know what’s in it. Ingredients, not prepared food. Follow what I mention above. See how you feel before, during, after eating. If you suddenly feel hot, increased heart rate, exhausted or itchy, these are not usual reactions from eating food that does not disagree with you. Reassess. Think of it as another part-time job you’ve picked up for the holiday season. Or maybe, now that I think of it, wait until the holiday season is over to start. Unless we’re talking anaphylaxis. In which case get thee to a real doctor, ASAP.
Here is a literature review of 57 Long Covid Studies published in the JAMA. You will see that in addition to anxiety (which can come from many sources, including your very own adorable little complex brain, but also as a histamine reaction) they also note that “other frequently reported symptoms included cardiac, dermatologic, digestive, and ear, nose, and throat disorders.” Digestive. You hear me.
It is so worth a try to reconsider what you eat and see if it can improve the way you feel. Add fresh, enjoy the hell out of supermarket pizza (or your processed food of choice), but don’t make it your everyday treat. Read back issues for more ideas.
I am putting together more recipes of foods that have worked for me. Need meal ideas? Check out my instagram. I will usually mention if some of the foods are high histamine but I chose to eat them anyway for various reasons. I’m still considering if it makes the most sense to post recipes here, on instagram, as tiktok (god help me), a cookbook or something else. Will likely write some articles for regular media in the coming year as this all becomes more well-known.
Tell me what you need for the holiday. Is it gluten-free cookie and cake recipes? Is it ideas for how to approach family gatherings with a new food intolerance? It is two tables full of gorgeous produce all of which I will eat in the coming weeks? Well that you might have to figure out for yourself.