A general update – I’ve been taking an extended break from low-fat eating, mostly because my body told me to, through cravings and just feeling less great overall. So the last couple of weeks my diet has been higher in fat and has also included things I normally like but wasn’t eating – different kinds of meat and cheese, chocolate, pizza…as I write this out it looks less like a break and more like a binge. But it’s been spread out over weeks! So not bingey – just breaky.
Anyway, during this last couple of weeks my hot flashes went from mild to wild. Lasting longer, causing sweating instead of just warmth, causing itching all over my skin at the same time. It’s really unpleasant. Particularly bad on hot days, but also bad on cool days so I know it’s not just my perception that has shifted.
I wrote on here in January that after I started watching my histamine and taking a histamine-degrading probiotic my hot flashes disappeared. This was the timeline (relevant items in bold):
12/29/16 – Started a low histamine diet
1/3/17 – Started taking Culturelle (histamine degrading) probiotics
1/5/17 – Mood significantly improved
1/6/17 – Hot flashes gone (after having them almost daily for years)
1/12/17 – Started Verapamil for Hypertension
1/14/17 – Started eating starches
1/28/17 – Started Weight Watchers (low fat diet)
2/6/17 – Hot flashes back again. I wrote at that time:
I don’t really follow a low-histamine diet anymore, and my hot flashes have come back. They’re not as bad – no sweating, pretty short in duration, and less frequent- but back. Right now I’m ok with it. At some point I’ll eliminate whatever is causing them.
My interpretation of the above timeline: I stopped eating foods with a lot of histamine and started taking a probiotic that degrades histamine in the gut, and my hot flashes went away. So maybe hot flashes are caused by histamine in the system (including mast cell activation) which can also release lots of other inflammatory compounds into the blood stream. I started Verapamil, which may have some effect on histamine release (marking this page of pubmed for followup on this), and then when I started eating low-fat I stopped focusing on histamine. I was feeling so much better overall I figured I could deal with a few hot flashes, and that was better than restricting my diet further.
Well, that time has come to revisit this because I’m not ok with the hot flashes anymore. They are absolutely worse when I eat foods that are high in histamines – in fact, I’ll often get one during or right after a meal containing high-histamine foods.
I really love the approach taken by Yasmina Ykelenstam, the Low Histamine Chef. In her book, she talks about how at one point she was down to 5 safe foods, and things weren’t really getting better. This, of course, reminds me of myself and the numerous times I’ve talked on here about having only a few foods I could safely eat. She says that rather than focusing on removing histamine-containing foods (though that may be necessary too in the beginning) she recommends increasing nutrition – specifically increasing foods that are naturally anti-histamine and anti-inflammatory. Her book contains a list of such foods, as well as recipes for using them. I hope to go in this direction more – adding rather than subtracting.
I also found a really nice app called All I Can Eat, which lets you pick your food intolerance from a list of 6, including histamine, gluten, lactose, fructose, sorbitol, and salicylic acid (sort of an odd list, of all the foods to be intolerant to…). Anyway, you can check the boxes of your personal food intolerances and then view the food list, which color codes foods based on your intolerances – green is good, red is bad, with several shades in between. I’m going to start moving towards the green foods and away from the orange and red ones I have been eating.
I predict I’ll be hot-flash free again within 2 weeks.