Long time no see and here’s why …

I’m so sorry that the English page kind of went into hybernation. I started working again last year and right now I’m double-occupied, because my first book on histamine intolerance and mast cell activation diseases is in progress. Too bad it will only be published in German for now. Currently I am crowdfunding for the book on Startnext.de.
Projekt unterstützen

Until the beginning of next year I hope to have finished a first version of the book, so that publishing can start mid-2017. After that, I hope to have more breath and love for the English histamine blog again. So, I’ll be back 😉

Don’t throw it away, wash it…

Tips

what about products for feminine hygiene?

 

The topic sustainability is very important for me. Each one of us has some idea what sustainability means to him or her. What can you do to grant our children and children’s children a future on this planet? One might reduce his or her meat consumption or maybe stop eating meat altogether. This is one way of conscious dealing with resources and it saves animal lives. Another one might stop using plastics wherever it is possible. The reduction of garbage in general is a way towards sustainability. Yet, some things we are so used to it is hard to imagine living without those disposable articles and sometimes this use-and-throw things are also meaningful – e.g. a surgeon should not use the same gloves twice – but sometimes one finds him- or herself asking, how did our ancestors do it and are there no other options out there?

I just turned a teenager when I asked myself for instance how women did cope in the medieval times with their monthly period. Today one can buy disposable sanitary pads and tampons at any chemist’s or supermarket. All shapes and variations are available for slight or heavy flow, with or without wings, short, long, thick, thin, with or without scent etc.

From young age on we get used to those disposable products. Just as of late I realised there are other options.

IMG_7817

Maybe you remember your parents telling you about washable diapers or if you are a parent yourself you remember using those. Just as with washable diapers for babies there are washable pads for women.

They are eco friendlier and cheaper in the long run, but most important they are “healthier” for you.

Conventional feminine hygiene products often contain chemicals and pesticides critical to your health. Dangerous contents in tampons, panty liners and pads according to the latest WVE report can be those among others:
• chemicals like dioxin and furan residues as side products of the bleaching process with chlorine, those can cause cancer
• pesticide residues if the cotton used is not pure organic
• unidentified chemicals for scent that can cause allergic skin irritations or disrupt the hormonal balance
• glue chemicals like methyldibromoglutaronitrile which is a preservative that Greenpeace warned about already in 2008. It can cause inflammation and allergies

Those substances are dangerous mostly because the skin in the genital area is especially susceptible for substances which are put on or into the body for several hours. Through the blood vessels and lymph vessels the toxins circulate throughout the body and cause damage.

If you decide to use washable pads be sure to use a mild washing agent.

Washable pads are easy to make youself. Sewing designs can be found throughout the internet, e.g. here. This option is not only cheap, but also very creative and individual.

Apart from doing it yourself you can also buy washable pads. There are several producers for washable pads, e.g. Lunapads, GladRags, Sckoon oder New Moon Pads.

Lunapads for instance is not only a eco friendly brand, it also initiated an aid project for Africa. A share of every sold product goes to the project Pads4Girls which produces washable pads for women in Africa. Girls and women are supplied with these pads and therefore they can go to school or work even when having their period.

As a last point I would like to leave you with two videos that might also help with your period:

Yoga for menstruation (part 1) and (part 2) by EkhartYoga.

Do you already use washable feminine hygiene products? How do you cope with it?

What are your thoughts on washable feminine hygiene products in general?

 

Have a stress-free period!

(c) The Histamine Pirate

Mind, body & soul…

Tips

What about yoga?

 

Why yoga and

what is that actually?

Yoga, but also other therapeutic concepts of motion, breathing and meditating are known to benefit the overall well-being. That is only one reason as to why yoga became such a popular trend lately. Even in the west you’ll be able to find several yoga studios in every city. They will offer anything from children’s yoga to yoga for seniors, bikram, anusara, ashtanga yoga and many more.

But what exactly is yoga and why can it be helpful with histamine intolerance?

The concept “yoga” involves thousands of years of tradition that is rooted in India. Today’s several yoga styles have roots in several original yoga styles. Yet, mainly hatha yoga influenced modern yoga today, especially in Europa and America. But the transition from East to West did not happen without changes and some losses. Hatha yoga originally used to prepare the body for other yoga forms, e.g. for longer meditation, nowadays evolved to be the yoga in general. In the West hatha yoga is famous for being physical very demanding. Nowadays the focus often lies more on body work(out) than on spiritual development and meditation.

Traditional hatha yoga went beyond just physical work and poses (asanas). Especially breathing techniques (pranayama) and specific hand movements (mudras) were part of it. Today’s hatha yoga tends to be very quick and flowy, changing from one pose to the other. Nowadays, postures held longer for intense stretching or meditation practice are usually characteristics for other yoga styles. Traditionally these qualities were part of hatha yoga, too. The strong connection between martial arts and yoga is worth mentioning at this point as well. Yoga is one way to enhance one’ physical power and to gain enlightenment. But whoever feels like yoga might be too “calm” for them and who is looking for some more “action” can also try out traditional martial arts like chi kung or tai chi chuan. You will notice similarities to yoga in practice and movements quite quickly. And vice versa, you will find elements of traditional martial arts in yoga, too.

Although yoga rose to be a trend in the West and despite many people already practicing it, the benefits of yoga practice just recently became a matter of scientific research. One explanation for that certainly can be the language and translation problem, but it might also be due to cultural differences. Yoga and martial arts are closely tied to Asian philosophy, but also traditional Chinese medicine. Concepts and world views of Asian philosophy and traditional Chinese medicine stand in tremendous contrast to those common in Western philosophy and modern Western medicine. Terms like “the 5 elements” or “yin and yang” are not to be understood in the literally.

I will try to shine a light on the benefits of yoga from a Western point of view.

Specific breathing techniques will enhance the oxygen supply of organs. Correct breathing will also help to detox your body. Environmental toxins that we breathe in with air and that leave debris in the lungs will be expelled.

Yogic poses will stimulate and enhance circulation without putting too much stress on the heart. Muscles will be strengthened. Malalignments, both ones you’ve been born with and ones you might have acquired due to false position, can be corrected. Specific postures provide benefits for specific body areas. Postures can work like a massage of the organs. Therefore their activity will be stimulated.

Meditation cleanses the mind and will relax you. It stimulates creativity and the mind in general.

How is yoga beneficial when suffering from histamine intolerance?

Going beyond general benefits I would like to talk about specific benefits of yoga when suffering from histamine intolerance.

First of all, yoga will have positive effects no matter what form of histamine intolerance individually troubles you.

The combination of stress reducing and relaxing effects together with the stimulation of circulation will especially benefit those of you who suffer the most from problems connected to the central nervous system.

With some people the problems tend to show more in symptoms connected to the bronchi. The breathing techniques and the cleansing of the lungs that comes with it will benefit you.

Who finds oneself suffering from symptoms connected to the stomach will enjoy the “massage of the organs”. Especially twisted postures will exert mild pressure on the inner organs which helps with digestion among other things.

Improved circulation will also help to get rid of excess histamine and toxins. Itchy or flushy skin will calm down. Yet, if you suffer from severe swelling and/or migraines yoga can sometimes increase these symptoms. Please note that inverted poses (where you are upside down) where there is pressure applied on the head (e.g. headstands) might cause problems to people suffering from migraines. On the other hand, inverted poses in general might help you, e.g. handstand. Avoid inverted postures and forward folds if you are suffering from high blood pressure.

Which yoga style is suitable? 

By now there are several yoga styles you can choose from. Some of them meet individual needs and are suitable even if you suffer from certain illnesses (besides histamine intolerance). Bikram yoga which is performed in a hot room though might not be the best choice because the sweating will lead to you not only getting rid of toxins, but also liquids – and you need water. Bikram yoga is also the one yoga style that might put some strain on the heart. An overview of some different yoga styles can be found here: http://www.ekhartyoga.com/everything-yoga/yoga-styles.

Whatever yoga style you might go for, you will already notice mild positive effects after just 1 week if you practice 10 minutes per day. I personally go for a mixture of styles, preferably ashtanga and yin yoga.

Don’t worry if your postures do not look like cover pictures of a yoga magazine or like the ones experienced yogis perform with ease, especially in the beginning. The looks are not what we aim for. The important thing is to keep practicing regularly.

Practice according to your needs and abilities.

Just some postures or flows can already help with your breathing, digestion and with your general well-being.

I personally like guided practices at home. There many yoga videos and tutorials on the internet and in books.

I came to like videos by a Dutch yoga teacher (in English language).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=me0VAhJ3HJA
Yoga for digestion

Especially the last pose shown here, even if it seems to be fairly easy, helps me a lot with digestive problems.

More videos by Esther Ekhart can be found here:

http://www.youtube.com/user/yogatic?feature=watch (for free)
http://www.ekhartyoga.com/ (some for free, some for people with subscription)

Guided training with a teacher in a local yoga studio will propel your practice as the teacher can adjust to your abilities and needs and he or she can also correct your postures or support you in certain postures. At home you are on your own 😉

A little insider tip is the game console. For the Wii there is a game called Wii Fit Plus that also includes some yoga practice. This is more fun than real traditional yoga though 😉

If you have questions or feedback for me why not leave a comment below? Or email me at histaminarm(at)vollbio.de.


Enjoy and “namaste”!

 

(c) The Histamine Pirate

Vegetarian – that’s what matters to me

Tips

What about eating vegetarian and having histamine intolerance?


The food at choice

 

A vegetarian or vegan that got hit with HIT is confronted with the same question in the beginning: What kind of food can I still eat?

And as if it was not difficult enough to live vegetarian or even vegan… Some foods are already being dropped in the course of this conscious decision – no more meat or animal related foods. The problem with the food industry is familiar to vegetarians and vegans alike, just because something looks plant-based does not mean it has to be plant-based, e.g. gummy bears and many bread spreads (watch out for gelatin). Now the shopping list appears to be even shorter.

But there is one plus to it. As a vegetarian or vegan you are already used to turn around food and read the mouseprint of ingredients.

In the following I will introduce some foods that are vegetarian and suitable for a histamine intolerance diet. To avoid defiencies and malnutrition please talk to your doctor or nutritionist! They can help you balance your diet. If you need supplements to your diet they will tell you and prescribe a dose.

 

Some vegetarian special cases

 

Soy…
is commonly used to substitute meat. Yet, for a low histamine diet soy is not a good choice. Please try to avoid soy products. Soy products are tofu, soy milk, soy spreads, soy yoghurts and puddings, many kinds of margarine. Here you can find a margarine recipe that is low in histamine and easy to do.

Tofu as meat substitute is hard to replace by anything else. Yet, you can try out my veggie burger recipe for starters here.

Soy milk can be substituted by rice milk or oat milk for example.

Soy bread spreads can be substituted by cream cheese or butter if you did not drop dairy altogether. You can also use pesto instead. The best way to enjoy pesto is if you prepare it yourself. Pesto you can purchase often contains pine nuts and parmesan cheese. Here is a recipe for homemade pesto. Avoid pesto rosso (red pesto) for it is made from tomatoes (trigger).

Soy pudding and yoghurts should be avoided, too. Use plain yoghurt instead or prepare pudding yourself, e.g. with oatmeal milk or rice milk. Here you can find a recipe for coconut pudding.

Margarine contains many vegetable fats. Many people prefer margarine because they believe it is the “lighter” and healthier choice in comparison to butter. For the most margarine brands you can buy that proves to be a myth. In addition to that many of them contain soy. So choose a margarine that is free from soy or go for butter. Butter is usually used as bread spread. It is not a main dish. So how fat will you get from butter really?

Vegetables and fruits…
make up the lion’s share of a vegetarian diet. Some vegetables and fruits might lead to reactions though. Try small amounts and get inspired by my list here.


A
nd things you maybe did not think of…
are other typical vegetarian foods like couscous which is made from wheat. Choose rice or millet instead.
Hummus often contains vinegar. Another problem could be the chickpeas usually used for hummus.

A general food list with categories like “vegetables”, “drinks”, “fruits”, etc. can be found here. You will find advice what to avoid and what to use as an alternative.


I will try to add more vegetarian recipes. You will find them in the category “vegetarian“. I hope I could help you for now in this section of tips.

Was this tip helpful for you or did you miss anything? Leave a comment or send me an email (histaminarm[at]vollbio.de).

Enjoy!

 

(c) The Histamine Pirate

Chillin’ on hot days…

Tips

What about ice cream?

Summer is coming up and it will be hot again. Ice cream is perfect for chillin’ on these days, isn’t it? But can you all types of ice cream and all flavours unhesitatingly?

 

Types

In general both dairy ice cream and water ice can be enjoyed. Yet, the thickener in dairy ice cream, which often is made from soy, can lead to reactions. So again, read the ingredients listed.

If you can make ice cream yourself (e.g. with an ice cream maker) then please do so. This way you will have full control over the ingredients put in and you might waive thickeners you cannot tolerate. Moreover, you can put fruit juices (low in histamine) with a spoon in the freezer. Also your favourite yoghurt can become a self-made ice lolly the same way.

Your ice cream parlour of trust can also provide you with ice cream. I would like to stress the of trust part here, because sometimes the ice cream spends way too much time in the display and that will raise the histamine concentration. Hands off old ice cream. The staff of your ice cream parlour of trust will provide you with information about the ingredients and thickeners used.

Sometimes people not only suffer from histamine intolerance, but also lactose intolerance or other intolerances. In case of a lactose intolerance please do not eat dairy ice cream. Vegetarian ice cream might be an alternative for you (without soy milk!).

Water ice sometimes is better tolerated than dairy ice cream. You can easily make it yourself, either from fresh fruits you juice yourself or from produced juices. Possible problems with water ice, if you buy it, can be additives and aroma.

 

Flavour

 

When choosing your flavour please avoid flavours where you know they are made from stuff that will act as a trigger or block DAO or HNMT function. Also flavours generally high in histamine are to be avoided. The following shows you some flavours that might cause you problems:

  • nougat, nuts, cocoa, dark chocolate (block the breaking down of histamine)
  • tiramisu (contains alcohol and cocoa)
  • avoid flavours not made from natural food (aroma!!)
  • mango, strawberry, lemon
  • Coca Cola or other lemonades

Maybe my food list can help you choose a flavour. You can find it here.

Now some flavours that are usually tolerated:

  • vanilla
  • stracciatella (sometimes can still cause problems due to the cocoa in it)
  • blueberry, melon, apple
  • milk chocolate (blocks DAO but not as bad as dark chocolate, cocoa or nougat)
  • white chocolate

Have fun chillin’ in the sun!

If you have any questions or feedback please leave a comment or email me at histaminarm[at]vollbio.de.

 

(c) The Histamine Pirate

What to put into your muesli bowl…

Tips

What about muesli, cornflakes and cereals…?

Muesli

 

Most mueslis you can buy contain ingredients that might be problematic with histamine intolerance, e.g. raisins or other dried fruits, nuts and aroma. Sometimes people also react to flax seeds although it is actually rather low in histamine. Please watch out for those ingredients when purchasing your muesli.

It is quite simple to just mix your own muesli. Single ingredients like oatmeal/oat flakes, spelt or millet flakes are sold in health food shops. One can then add fresh fruits that one tolerates, e.g. blueberries or apple. You can add sugar if you like. A small amount of chocolate chips might be OK for you.

If you prefer your muesli with yoghurt instead of milk maple syrup or honey can be added instead of sugar.

Cornflakes & more

Cornflakes and other cereals often contain malt extract which is high in histamine. Even if they are called CORNflakes they often also contain wheat which is often not tolerated. Cereals are often artificially enriched with vitamins. Artificially added folacin, vitamin b2 (riboflavin, E 101) and maybe also vitamin b3 (niacin) are often not tolerated well. Watch out for additional aroma. Please check the list of ingredients carefully before purchasing muesli. Some health food shops might offer cereals without the (artificial) ingredients listed above.

I hope I could be of some assistance for your choice of muesli respectively cereals.

If you have any questions or input for me please don’t hesitate to contact me via histaminarm[at]vollbio.de. Below there is space for your comments, too.

 

(c) The Histamine Pirate

What about chocolate…?

Tips

What about chocolate…?

 

About chocolate

Especially people suffering from migraines often cannot tolerate chocolate. Although chocolate actually is quite low in histamine it contains two other biogenic amines, namely tyramine and phenylethylamine, both present in cocoa. Biogenic amines are histamine triggers. In high dozes biogenic amines are toxic to all humans.

In general, chocolate with high cocoa content will lead to reactions more likely. Avoid therefore dark and bitter chocolate. Milk chocolate is often better tolerated.

Moreover, white chocolate usually is better tolerated. To produce white chocolate the cocoa mass is deprived its cocoa powder. Only the cocoa butter is being used. Milk constituents and sugar is usually added then. White chocolate contains less biogenic amines, as only the cocoa butter is used.

Apart from biogenic amines often the thickeners cause problems. Usually soy lecithin is being used as thickener in (white, dark and milk) chcolate. Soy usually is not tolerated well with histamine intolerance. Some specialised food stores may offer chocolate that is not based on soy thickener.

Chocolate that is not tolerated due to additional ingredients

Filled chocolates often contain alcohol and therefore may cause problems.

Also avoid chocolate containing nuts.

Many sweets contain chocolate or cocoa, but also other ingredients that may cause you problems. For instance tiramisu contains alcohol, nougat contains nuts and marzipan is made from almonds that not everybody can tolerate. So watch out for these additional ingredients.

I hope I could help those of you who sometimes have a chocolate craving still. Maybe you can find a way not to omit chocolate from your diet altogether.

Below there is room for your comments. For feedback please feel free to e-mail me at histaminarm[at]vollbio.de.

 

(c) The Histamine Pirate