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Histamine Intolerance? Why You Need to Heal Your Gut!

The root cause of histamine tolerance can be found right in your gut. Learn more about leaky gut and how this could be contributing to your symptoms.
Jan 15, 2024 | Joy McCarthy

I became interested in understanding histamine intolerance thanks to my struggles with (and healing of!) rosacea. In my previous post, I dove into all things histamine intolerance, including what it is and signs and symptoms to watch for. If you haven’t read it yet, hop on over as it sets the foundation for today’s topic: the connection between leaky gut and histamine intolerance.

While the other post talks about the importance of limiting histamine-producing foods and incorporating foods and supplements that can help naturally lower histamine in the body, often the root cause is found right in your gut. And you know I’m all about finding and fixing the root cause so that you can enjoy joyous health!

This post outlines the basics of leaky gut and how it can contribute to histamine intolerance (amongst many other conditions), plus a few of my favourite gut-healing tips and recipes!

What is Leaky Gut?

When it comes to lasting, joyous health I firmly believe Hippocrates was right: it begins in the gut!

Our digestive tract not only helps break down and absorb the foods we eat, it also functions as an important barrier that keeps pathogens, bacteria, and other toxins from entering our body.

When we eat, there is a chemical and mechanical breakdown of our food into small particles and a healthy gut has selective permeability that allows these particles to pass through into our body along with important nutrients like vitamins, minerals, and water. This integrity is protected by the tight junctions between our intestinal cells and when functioning optimally, the good things pass through and those toxins, undigested bits of food, bacteria, etc. remain in our digestive tract and are eliminated properly.

Unfortunately, it has become all too common for this barrier to be damaged, leading to a condition called leaky gut syndrome in which the tight junctions are not so tight and all those non-food and nutrient items are able to pass from the gut and into the body. Once they pass through the intestinal wall the body recognizes that they shouldn’t be there and will mount an immune response.

Remember–histamine is an important immune chemical so you might start to see where gut health and histamine intolerance are interconnected. Some signs you may have leaky gut include:

  • Digestive issues such as IBS
  • Chronic alternating diarrhea or constipation
  • Headaches
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Itchy skin
  • Histamine intolerance
  • Intolerance or heightened sensitivity to environmental chemicals and scents.

I’ve shared another great post that goes into a lot of detail about leaky gut that you can read if you want more information.

What Are Some Causes of Leaky Gut?

There can be many causes of leaky gut, which I’ll list below. If you have any of these risk factors and the associated symptoms of leaky gut, including histamine intolerance, it’s worth taking steps to support and heal your digestive tract.

  • An imbalanced microbiome , also known as dysbiosis or SIBO
  • Gliadin–a component of gluten that has been shown to trigger zonulin, a protein that can increase the space between tight junctions.
  • Birth control pills
  • Alcohol
  • Smoking
  • Chronic stress
  • Food allergies or intolerances
  • Diets high in sugar, especially fructose
  • Overuse of antibiotics
  • Long term use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS)
  • Chronic inflammation–a bit of a chicken and an egg, but increased inflammation can impair gut health and gut health can impact inflammation !

How Do Leaky Gut & Histamine Intolerance Come Together?

As previously mentioned above, when the intestinal barrier is compromised and pathogens and other non-nutrient particles are able to cross into the body, it can trigger an immune response. This immune response can tell the body’s mast cells to release histamine, which, if it is happening regularly, means that your body’s capacity to breakdown and eliminate histamine can become impaired. This is even worse if you are someone who is already deficient in DAO, an enzyme required to properly break down histamine.

Another aspect of gut health that is connected to histamine intolerance is the health of the mucosal barrier that lines your digestive system.

This barrier is designed to provide a buffer that protects your intestinal cells from irritants.

It’s also filled with mast cells, our main producer of histamine! If your mucosal lining is compromised, these irritants can come into contact with the intestinal wall triggering another immune response and causing those mast cells to release more histamine.

So you can see why it’s so important to not only have a healthy intestinal barrier, but also a strong mucosal lining to prevent your body from overproducing histamine every time you eat.

Tips to Heal Leaky Gut

Luckily, our bodies are incredibly resilient and smart! In fact, the cells of your gut are replaced roughly every three days. That means there is a lot you can do to heal your gut and see results pretty quickly. This post outlines the 5 Rs of gut healing, which you can read for more information, but I’ve got some of my favourite quick tips below!

1. Remove gut irritants

The first step to healing your gut is to remove the items that are causing irritation and inflammation. The list will likely look different for everyone, but can include foods high in sugar, anything you might be allergic to, alcohol, excessive caffeine, and medications if you can safely come off them. If you’re reacting to a lot of foods, it’s worth working with a natural healthcare provider to undertake an elimination and reintroduction protocol to see what your specific triggers are.

2. Sip some bone broth!

This is one of my favourite tips since it’s so easy and delicious. I like to make a big batch of this recipe and sip on it during the winter months. The collagen and other nutrients are soothing and healing for the gut.

Chicken bone broth

3. Try digestive enzymes

Not everyone will need to incorporate digestive enzymes into their healing protocol, but if you find you struggle with a lot of reflux, burping, or intestinal gas they can be helpful during the healing phase. These enzymes will help to fully break down your food for improved digestion and assimilation.

4. Support your microbiome

Since dysbiosis and other microbiome imbalances can contribute to leaky gut, I always recommend supporting your microbiome. Not only does this mean incorporating probiotic foods, like this Homemade Coconut Milk Yogurt or supplements, but also enjoying a wide variety of plants and prebiotic foods. Research has shown that enjoying 30+ different types of plants every week supports a robust microbiome.

gut microbiome illustration

5. Enjoy gut-loving foods and drinks

When it comes to healing your gut and lowering histamine it’s not all about what you eliminate, but also what you add in! Enjoying foods that are rich in antioxidants, vitamin C, and other nutrients can help support gut healing and lower inflammation (turmeric is your bestie!). This Skin Brightening and Gut Healing Golden Elixir is packed with vitamin C, live enzymes, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant-rich plant compounds to help you glow and heal from the inside out.

6. Find your balance

Since chronic stress can be such a trigger for leaky gut, finding ways to help balance your stress levels and get adequate rest is crucial for any healing plan. Walker and I swear by this simple relaxing breathing exercise to help us stay calm. I’ve also written extensively about how to improve your sleep quality in the posts found here.


As always, I hope what I’ve shared today inspires you to take a closer look at your health and to find the places where you can give yourself a little extra love. Your gut (and skin!) will thank you!

Xo Joy

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