Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Diet, Histamines and Health

I have been walking regularly this NewYear.  This past week I've included lots of hills, as I am off to our eldest daughter's for a long weekend, and we are planning visiting Lincoln and there is a big hill between the train station and the Cathedral!

Anyway, this was yesterday's shorter walk - just up the hill behind the house to take a photo of the snow on Black Mountain.  I bet it's chilly up there!

As you can see, it was still pretty chilly along our lane.  This was 2.30 p.m. ish.  The frost was lingering and hadn't left the hedgerow . . .

. . . nor from the North-facing fields and hillsides.  Our house is out of sight on the left.  The ivied tree on the left is on the edge of Castle Field (where there used to be an Iron age enclose - now quarried by Next Door, who has a real sense of history - NOT.)  You can just make out a couple of the cairns along the top of the ridge (right hand side).

Frost lingered along every hedgerow and the long line of high ground between the Towy Valley turning at Llandeilo (where it heads for Llandovery) and Bryammon, the far side of the ridge.  There is a walk along the ridge, taking in the 4 cairns which are up there, which I intend to do with a walking friend when I get back from Sheffield.

I even climbed half way up (without stopping) the next bit of steep hill (2 arrows on the map) to take this photo of Dryslwyn castle, which is in line with the gorse blossom. The frost highlights the layout of the Medieval village which once topped it alongside the Castle.

Anyway, with a month to go to my next appointment with the Respiratory Nurse, I have re-visited the notion that my peak flow readings can be choreographed (!) with fluctuations in histamine levels due to food intake.  Unfortunately, it would seem to be the case.  Some foods are naturally high in histamines, others are histamine liberators.  Sadly, chocolate comes under the latter category, and I have had regular bars of chocolate ever since Christmas.  I had persuaded myself that the lingering effects of a recent cold had made my lungs a bit congested, but I think it is linked to poor eating choices.  So I have cut out the choccy bars and guess what, an instant rise in peak flow from 390 to 420, no probs!

I have cut out bacon and sausages and cured meats, I have cut out bread (I'm ok with the wheat part but probably not with the yeast), all nuts, no leftovers, of course NO dairy, because of being dairy-intolerant. I had made my own crumpets this week, but have frozen them for when I have the girls back home, as they have yeast in, so . . .  Which now leads to the question, how do I eat the lactose-free cheese  I have in the fridge, now there's no bread to toast it on?!  I will have to do some cheesy pasta I think, probably for tea tonight, or some Cauliflower cheese.  Everything has to be as fresh as possible, and I try to buy organic fruit and veg where possible.  The high histamine list is limiting though - I know I can't have beer or cider without Consequences - think gut here, as much as lungs - but I am OK with red wine these days.  I have tried to be sulphite-free for years, but it's in SO many things, dried fruits, even crisps, fruit squash, anything that may need preserving.  Don't think that sticky bun is OK because it's NOT from a sulphite point of view and probably has 40 ingredients and so I feel guilty even when I eat one as a rare treat.  When I bake a similar bun at home it might half 4 or 5 ingredients.  What a difference . . .  I always read ingredients on tins and wrappers, but most of the time try and make it all home-made and in the summer months, home grown too.  All my soft fruit is home-grown, all the cooking apples stored and only bought when those run out.

I had several of my home made Cornish Fairings earlier on (ginger biscuits).  Then I read that I should avoid cinnamon, cloves, and various other spices, and then there is curry powder. . .  I LOVE curry.  Well, I can't be good ALL the time can I?

Anyone else out there suffering from histamine problems?  I can recommend The Low Histamine Chef, though I don't think I can toe the line as she does.


  1. Oh dear you have cut out all my favorite foods, I would starve, I am so glad I don't have problems with food, well only one cheese I am cheese free I have a bad reaction to it, its something to do with the rennet so having not eaten since I was wee child I don't miss it,
    Have a lovely trip and I look forward to your report back and photos :-)

  2. When my son was first diagnosed with Renal Failure he went on a low salt. low Potassium diet. this was to keep him alive so had to be followed totally, we all followed it for many reasons, the main one being that I would have nothing in the house that he could not eat or drink It may not be easy but soon turns into routine and like you we did not eat out and I made everything from scratch. It is no longer necessary, and I do have salt and potassium rich foods in my diet now, but make many things from scratch and read all food labels.

  3. Dawn - It won't be easy but if I just try and hit a better balance, then that will help. The no leftovers is the hardest part as I always cook big panfuls of main meals, and freeze portions. I am NOT going to go without curry, but will blend my spices rather than buying a ready-mixed curry powder and leave out the cinnamon/cloves element that appears in some blends.

    Pam - I'm the other way, my asthma medication depletes Potassium from my diet, so I have to try and top it up. I am glad that incorporating changes does become automatic with time - I am still trying to make it automatic cutting out th dairy (milk products appear in SO many things!) I'm glad your son seems to be better now.

  4. Interesting post BB. Firstly, super photos of the landscape around you. I'm refining my diet again and think by a process of trial and error I am getting there. I have reduced or cut out many of the foods you mention so I sympathise, but it is also true that things become normal once you've been doing them a while and if you start to feel better it's well worth it.

  5. How very interesting. My brother has asthma, but it's the excema which is the biggest problem. I shall recommend that book.

  6. Kath - it's the root of all asthma and excema type illness as far as I can see. I want to be scepticle but the proof is in the pudding, so to speak, and when you think of it, logical. The gut is responsible for so much of our health, which is why all this crap junk food is taking such a toll.

    CT - it's a barger having to keep cutting things out (and always the things we like most), but I guess worth it in the long run.

  7. It is so hard to cut certain foods out of our diet.
    I have been cutting out food and then possibly letting some back in for about 40 years now.
    Sadly I never see the fast results as you.
    I use to write every thing down so I could track. Not fun.

    cheers, parsnip

  8. M&S have started doing sourdough crumpets. May be worth trying.

    When my asthma is at its worst, I cut out milk (in fact, I still stick to skimmed milk when I can even when well), soft cheese, nuts, coconut, chocolate and spicy food. However, chocolate seems to be the thing that keeps my epilepsy away, so I will have a very small amount of the darkest choc possible whatever.

    I personally think that the Chorleywood process and all the chemicals that sail in it is the real culprit in many wheat / gluten / yeast issues. A proper artisan bakers opened in Enfield just over two years ago, and since we've been eating their loaves I've really noticed the difference.