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Migraine and tiredness? Learn about the DAO enzyme and how to avoid its deficiency

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Restoring the level of the DAO enzyme can be the solution to many symptoms caused by excess histamine. In addition, general inflammation, which favors all kinds of problems, will be reduced.

Many headaches and other physical ailments appear as a result of the body’s difficulties in getting rid of histamine, a substance that is found in some foods and that the body also produces in the context of an allergic reaction.

The most common symptoms of excess histamine in the body are:

  • Migraines
  • Gastrointestinal disorders.
  • Certain arrhythmias.
  • Hypotension
  • Hives
  • Rhinitis.
  • Fatigue.
  • Menstrual disturbances
  • Muscle pains.

A variety of foods with more or less histamine content can trigger discomfort, unlike allergies themselves, which respond to one or a few foods. This variety makes it difficult to establish a tolerable maximum ratio in the consumption of suspect foods. In addition, low activity of the DAO enzyme in the body can cause this reaction.

WHY AN ALLERGY-LIKE REACTION OCCURS

Immune cells called mast cells and basophils, which are very present in the skin and mucosa, store granules that contain histamine and are released in response to various stimuli. One of them is the action of immunoglobulins E (IgE) when they recognize an allergen and trigger the immune response.

  • Histamine is not only manufactured by our body endogenously, but it is also found in many foods. Hence, many people may experience allergic-type reactions, even if they do not have a real allergy, after eating various foods that are high in histamine. This is what is called non-allergic histamine intolerance, since it is an increased sensitivity to this molecule.
  • Histaminosis or intolerance to histamine is caused both by an excess of this substance in the body (due to the intake of foods that contain it) and by the difficulty in degrading it (due to the low activity of the DAO enzyme.
  • Diamine oxidase (DAO), which is found mainly in the intestinal mucosa and which acts during digestion, is the enzyme in charge of degrading histamine. If DAO is normally active, histamine is broken down and eliminated through the urine. But if it is not active enough, it reaches the blood plasma and causes symptoms. The enzyme histamine-N-methyltransferase (HNMT) has the same breakdown function, but not in the liver and other organs and tissues, and its activity may also be insufficient.

WHAT CAUSES LOW DAO ENZYME ACTIVITY

  • The causes of the decrease in DAO production and the inactivity of the HNMT are several. They can be due to genetic or acquired dysfunction, but also due to a deficiency of cofactors such as vitamin C, B6, copper or zinc.
  • People with gastrointestinal disorders such as inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, celiac disease, or bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) are prone to impaired enzyme activity. Drugs and alcohol also have an inhibitory effect.

HOW IS THE PROBLEM DIAGNOSED?

  • Blood test: A blood test for DAO enzyme activity may be done. Normal levels are above 80 HDU / ml (histamine degrading units per milliliter). Between 40 and 80 HDU / ml is considered low and levels below 40 HDU / ml indicate a significant deficit that may be the cause of discomfort.
  • Histamine test: The accumulation of histamine in the blood can also be measured, which begins to show symptoms from 50-75 µg / ml, although there are differences between people.

PROTECT THE LIVER TO AVOID SYMPTOMS

In addition to checking the enzymatic activity of DAO, it is important to help the liver perform its conjugation and elimination functions. DAO breaks down histamine in the intestine into three compounds that, in turn, have to be transformed in the liver to be eliminated, since some of them are even more toxic than histamine itself.

If transformation and elimination do not occur completely, characteristic symptoms may appear. People with histamine intolerance blush easily when playing sports, when they feel ashamed or simply scratching. In these people, mosquito bites often leave large red marks on the skin.

What are the breakdown products of histamine and how can we promote their elimination quickly and efficiently? 

Let’s see what we can do to help the liver get rid of them:

  • Hydrogen peroxide: It is a reactive oxygen species (ROS) that stresses and damages cell membranes. It is very toxic and, once histamine is broken down, this compound must be neutralized and expelled from the body. This is done by the enzyme catalase, a powerful antioxidant that breaks down H2O2 into water and oxygen. It is found in the cells of all tissues, but its activity is highest in the liver and kidneys. Although we manufacture it endogenously, it is advisable to increase the consumption of foods rich in catalase to help the body get rid of these free radicals. It is found abundantly in leeks, radishes, cabbages, carrots, cucumbers, celery, cherries, bananas, and peaches.
  • Ammonia: It is a waste product that comes mainly from the digestion of proteins. The liver converts ammonia into urea, a less toxic substance for cells, which is eliminated through the urine. Fermented foods such as sauerkraut or kefir, as well as those rich in zinc such as pumpkin seeds, dried fruit, or brewer’s yeast, help remove ammonia from the body.
  • Imidazole acetaldehyde: It is metabolized by the liver thanks to cytochrome P450 enzymes, which act in phase I detoxification. This enzymatic group requires cofactors (copper, magnesium, zinc, selenium, molybdenum and vitamins C and B), as well as antioxidants such as glutathione, resveratrol and anthocyanidins to exert its function. Hence, a good multivitamin complex is of great help in people with histamine toxicity problems when liver phase I works slowly.

TAKING CARE OF THE INTESTINAL FLORA REDUCES HISTAMINE

The proliferation of certain fungi, bacteria and parasites can alter the intestinal microbiota and cause immune stimulation with the release of histamine. 

They are microorganisms such as Blastocystis hominisCampylobacter jejuniCryptosporidium parvum , Entamoeba histolyticaGiardia lambliaAscaris lumbricoidesTrichuris trichiuraToxacara canis and Candida albicans.

  • These pathogens consume vitamin B6, produce free radicals, permeabilize the intestinal mucosa, and compete with beneficial bacteria that promote balance in the body.
  • Symptoms such as abdominal bloating, constipation, white tongue, itchy skin, food intolerances, chronic fatigue, headaches, premenstrual syndrome, as well as high eosinophils in blood tests are common signs of parasitosis.
  • A cure can be made with products that eliminate pathogens (oregano, thyme, berberine, Pseudowintara colorata , garlic, cloves, caprylic acid …) for 15 days, rest 5 and repeat 15 days. At the same time you can take probiotics: Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG , L. plantarum and Bifidobacterium infantisL. casei and L. bulgaricus should be avoided, as they stimulate histamine production.

HORMONAL BALANCE AGAINST DAO DEFICIENCY

Estrogens and DAO deficiency are related. Hormones stimulate histamine production and reduce the DAO enzyme. In turn, histamine induces the ovaries to produce more estrogens. Women with hyperestrogenism may have DAO deficiency and suffer from the symptoms of histamine intolerance.

  • Correcting the causes of excessive estrogen production is a priority. It can be a progesterone deficiency, excessive aromatase activity, exposure to pollutants with estrogenic effect, altered intestinal microbiota or liver malfunction.

DIET TO REDUCE HISTAMINE

Many studies propose a low histamine diet for 13 months to improve intolerance and reduce symptoms.

Recommended foods to avoid excess histamine:

  • Green leafy vegetables, cabbages, artichokes, carrots, sweet potato, cucumber, garlic, onions, leeks, zucchini, squash, asparagus and seaweed.
  • Gluten-free cereals such as millet, quinoa, buckwheat, and amaranth.
  • Fruits such as pear, apple, mango, coconut, pomegranate, grape, melon, watermelon, berries, figs, peaches, cherries, and apricots.
  • Flax, sesame and hemp seeds.
  • Legumes, such as peas, lentils, beans, azukis …
  • Rice, millet, quinoa, sesame, coconut or oat milks (certified gluten-free). Fresh goat and sheep cheeses are well tolerated.

Foods to avoid if there is a DAO deficiency. 

The following foods are eliminated for 13 months and reintroduced one by one:

  • Oranges, lemons, tangerines, grapefruits, kiwis, pineapple, papaya, avocado, banana, strawberries and plums.
  • Sugar, additives, chocolate, coffee, tea, alcohol and vinegar.
  • Cow dairy products.
  • Soy and its derivatives
  • Smoked, preserved and fermented.
  • Nuts
  • Meat products, egg white, blue fish and shellfish.
  • Wheat and derivatives.
  • Tomato, pepper, aubergine, potato, spinach and chard.
  • Chickpeas, as they contain a little histamine.

NATURAL REMEDY AGAINST DAO DEFICIENCY

Before taking any type of supplement or remedy, you should consult a specialist:

  • Exogenous DAO enzyme: It is most effective if ingested together with the enzyme catalase. Take 1 tablet (with 0.3-0.5 mg of DAO and 250 mg of catalase). 20 minutes before each meal.
  • Glutamine: Decreases the level of ammonia and strengthens the intestinal mucosa. Dose: 4 g per day.
  • Quercithin: It is found in abundance in onion and helps metabolize ingested histamine. Dosage: 2 g per day.
  • Probiotics: B. infantis, B. longum, and L. rhamnosus regulate immunity and decrease histamine release.
  • Vitamins C and B6, zinc and copper: Increase the activity of DAO. Make sure you get the recommended daily doses.

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