Updated: Dec 16, 2022
Histamines are chemicals in our body that help our immune systems fight off foreign invaders. As a first line defense for our immune system, histamines are important for keeping us healthy.
However, for some people, histamines can build up in the body causing an intolerance. When histamine levels stay elevated, undesirable symptoms may arise such as seasonal allergies, gut problems and bladder irritation.
Scientists are uncovering the many ways that elevated histamines can affect people suffering from Interstitial Cystitis. Interesting new research points to histamines as the culprit to oversensitive nerves in the bladder and enhanced activation of the urge to urinate.
If you find that your bladder symptoms are worse during the allergy season or after you consume high-histamine foods like pickles, cured meats or wine, you may have a histamine intolerance.
Taking an over the counter antihistamine pill, like Claritin or Zyrtec, can help some alleviate symptoms. But did you know that there are many natural alternatives?
Aside from avoiding high histamine foods, you can also fill your plate and cup with healthy natural foods and teas that reduce or block histamines.
Yes, you can eat many foods that are high in vitamin C on the IC diet (check out this blog post to learn about vitamin C and IC). Fill your plate with delicious and nutritious vitamin C-rich fruits and veggies such as blueberries, pears, gala apples, broccoli, cauliflower, bell peppers and potatoes.
Desert Harvest offers a low-acid Vitamin C supplement that can increase your antihistamine-blocking power (use code CKNUTR22 for 10% off). When taking Vitamin C, look for calcium ascorbate as the source. Ascorbic acid is often too acidic for IC patients.
Quercetin is an antioxidant found in fruits, vegetables, herbs and nuts. Research has proven this plant compound to be a powerful antihistamine. Lucky for us, we can add foods like blueberries, apples and kale into smoothies or salads and reap the benefits. You can also supplement Quercetin.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Bring on the fresh fish! Omega 3’s are the powerhouse of inflammation fighters. With histamine intolerance, fresh or frozen is best. Fish like salmon and tuna are delicious when baked with fresh herbs and garlic. Serve them as a main dish or over a bed of fresh lettuce with a drizzle of olive oil.
When choosing a fish oil supplement, avoid lemon flavoring and gummies. The liquid variety is best but softgels are preferred for taste. Flax Seed Oil can also be a great alternative for non-fish eaters or vegetarians.
Magnesium is often referred to as the missing electrolyte. A case report by the Journal of the American College of Nutrition confirms that human magnesium deficiency is an accepted medical fact in our country. Over 50% of Americans do not get enough magnesium in their diet.
As an important mineral for many body functions, magnesium supplementation is highly recommended. It is difficult to get enough magnesium through diet alone, especially in an IC diet with low histamines. Along with a supplement, you can boost your magnesium levels by eating oatmeal, leafy greens and fresh salmon. If you’re concerned about a histamine issue, consider avoiding nuts and beans, because although they are high in magnesium, they are also high in histamines.
Yes, there are IC-friendly teas that are tasty and provide antihistamine relief. Our favorite brands are Traditional Medicinals, Buddha Teas, and Yogi Organic. Try peppermint, stinging nettle leaf, tulsi, licorice and rosemary. One to three cups of tea per day is recommended.
Not sure how to incorporate all these suggestions into your diet? Try this easy smoothie drink.
It packs an antihistamine punch with chia seeds for magnesium and omega 3’s, apples for quercetin, and mint tea, a natural antihistamine.
1 cup peppermint tea, chilled
1 cup coconut milk
1 Gala apple, cut into chunks
2 Tbsp Chia Seeds
Combine in the blender and pulse until smooth. The chia seeds will give this a thick, rich texture. Makes one large 16 oz serving.
Need help determining what the best type of diet is for you on your IC journey?
Learn more about the Road To Remission program and how it can help you.
Author: Beverly Leveque, RD
Editor: Callie Krajcir, RD