You know, with anything that has to do with the body going haywire, it’s never just one thing. Having histamine intolerance is a good example of that. Why do you, all of a sudden, have it? Is it because of your fluctuating hormones? Could adrenal fatigue be a part of it? What about depleted vitamins and minerals? And what about an acid body?
What is an acid body you ask and what does it have to do with anything? Let’s first start by explaining what pH is and what it means to the body and this discussion.
The following is an entry from a site called Altered States. It’s a weird site and I wouldn’t normally quote anything from such a strange place, but the explanation of pH is succinct and accurate based on all the other research I’ve done.
pH is the abbreviation for potential hydrogen. The pH of any solution is the measure of its hydrogen-ion concentration. The higher the pH reading, the more alkaline and oxygen rich the fluid is. The lower the pH reading, the more acidic and oxygen deprived the fluid is. The pH range is from 0 to 14, with 7.0 being neutral. Anything above 7.0 is alkaline, anything below 7.0 is considered acidic.
Human blood stays in a very narrow pH range right around ( 7.35 – 7.45 ). Below or above this range means symptoms and disease. If blood pH moves to much below 6.8 or above 7.8, cells stop functioning and the patient dies. The ideal pH for blood is 7.4
A healthy blood pH without cancer has acid + alkaline balance almost equal. Actually a healthy body is slightly alkaline measuring approximately 7.4. This ideal blood 7.4 pH measurement means it is just slightly more alkaline than acid.
Ok, so our bodies need to maintain a specific blood pH to maintain a healthy environment. It does an excellent job of it. But when you start eating a lot of acid-forming foods, you can knock that pH balance off and skew your body’s pH. If you go too heavy on the alkaline-forming foods you theoretically can also do harm to your system. Overall, the body does a good job maintaining the pH. It takes a lot to make your system more acid. But it is possible. Especially with the typical American diet of processed foods, coffee, and high amounts of cheese and meat.
Just as a note, if you do your own research on the acid/alkaline body, many articles talk about affecting the pH of blood rather than the pH of your body’s systems. This article tries to dispel the myth of an acid body, but has an interesting take on the whole thing. He talks about how you can’t really change your blood’s pH with foods and argues that the acid/alkaline connection is untrue, but I tend to disagree. I’ve read enough to believe you can alter your body’s pH. (I suggest a book to read lower down) I’m not entirely sure if I think you akalize your blood as much as you are eating to have an alkaline-forming effect on your system.
I’ve started to research using terms like pH balance and mast cells and have found many medical abstracts that back up the idea that alkalizing your system can help prevent histamine release. The only reason I am linking to that particular article is to show some people don’t agree with the whole idea. (Sort of like they don’t believe in adrenal fatigue or even histamine intolerance) And it is always good to read a dissenting opinion anyway. There’s just so much out there that backs the idea. This site, for example, explains the entire idea and physiology behind the acid/alkaline theory.
Ok, so that’s a little background on the physiology of the body’s pH, but what does it have to do with histamine intolerance and hot flashes?
My histamine intolerance is pretty much under control, but my hot flashes have increased. I’ve gone for months without any, and all of a sudden they’ve come on with a vengeance. I’ve averaged four a night in the last two weeks with the restlessness and insomnia that can go along with it. You might remember from my previous post I attributed it to using iodine, but now I don’t think that’s the main issue.
I began to hit the Internet once again plugging in search terms and moving from one concept to another looking for an answer. I would say after quite a bit of reading that doctors do not necessarily know why women have hot flashes. There are many theories, but nothing definitive. To me, a hot flash is a natural occurrence indicating something is out of balance. That doesn’t mean take hormones to fill in what is leaving, but bring into balance what has gone askew.
My theories usually start with what am I putting in or on my body, so I started researching foods that help minimize or eliminate hot flashes. Within minutes I read a sentence about how having an acid or alkaline body can affect hot flashes. This really pricked my ears because a few years ago I read a book about bone health and it was all about maintaining an alkaline body. Building Bone Vitality by Amy Joy Lanou introduced me to the idea of the acid/ alkaline body.
Her idea, and what she discusses at length in the book, is about promoting bone health by maintaining an alkaline body. In a nutshell, when the body becomes more acid, calcium (and magnesium) are leached from your bones and eventually excreted. Milk for example, so touted as helping with calcium deficiency actually contributes to bone loss because dairy is an acid-forming food.
This is not the information dairy farmers want you to know. And it is controversial on some level because it flies in the face of what we’ve grown up with. But the book makes real sense and it seems to be backed up with real science. I highly recommend it, especially because those drugs used for osteoporosis have been linked with…wait for it…broken hips in women. Do the research, I’m not making that up!
So then what’s the connection between the acid body and histamine and hot flashes?
This is the passage that triggered my delving deeper into the connection between the acid body and hot flashes:
“In Prevention Magazine’s “New Choices in Natural Healing,” Eve Campanelli, a holistic family practitioner in Beverly Hills, Calif., says, “Hot flashes often flare up when women drink wine or coffee, which acidifies the blood and strains the liver.”
Keep in mind from my previous paragraph, the statement that it acidifies the blood is probably not as accurate as it has an acid-forming effect on your body. But besides that, it really sent me off in search of correlating information. (The article also talks about using soy to control hot flashes, but I personally do not endorse that. I have a lot of problems with the use of soy but I’m not going to get into that here.)
I knew about the loss of calcium in an acid body but I didn’t know you also lose magnesium. Those happen to be two minerals that are suggested as supplements to help control hot flashes. Magnesium comes up over and over again when you research what might be missing out of our diets and what makes peri-menopausal symptoms worse. And “stresses the liver” is also key to a healthy body system, since the liver is responsible for cleansing toxins.
The really interesting thing to me is how many acid-forming foods are on the same list as high histamine and how many low histamine foods are alkaline-forming. (Spinach is different; high histamine but high alkaline) This is what makes the issue a little muddy. Remember I always say it’s never one thing.
When I had no hot flashes was it the low histamine foods or the high alkaline-forming foods? Or both?
Wednesday I made sure that I restricted my diet to vegan, not necessarily low histamine or acid free. You do need a balance between acid/alkaline foods so I didn’t worry too much about eating super alkaline. And my intolerance is under control so I didn’t need to worry too much about being completely restrictive with low histamine foods. But I did add lemon into the meal and ate a bunch of raisins, which are great alkaline-forming foods. You need balance anyway, so you would never eat just alkaline-forming foods anyway.
The difference in what I had been indulging in over the past couple of weeks was pretty big. Aged cheese is awful for my histamine intolerance and it is high on the list of acid-forming foods, and I had eaten blue cheese dressing a few nights in a row, had a pasta dish(also acid forming) with smoked Gouda one night, a burrito with sour cream another night, and gosh knows what else! I had also fallen off the healthy foods wagon with a tiny Nestle’s crunch bar, more than once, and some milk chocolate. When I go, I go big! And I wonder why I was having five hot flashes a night?
So was it the acid-forming diet I was riding high on or was my histamine bucket filling? That list of horror makes both lists, interestingly enough. And now let me tell you…Wednesday night, yes even after just one day of correcting all the bad, I slept deeper than I had in weeks and did not have a hot flash. And Thursday and Friday, having been equally as careful with my foods and making sure to drink lemon in water, as lemon is one of the most alkalizing things you can eat, (but can also be a no-no because of histamine for some people) I slept again without a single hot flash.
The only other fly in the ointment of figuring out what really works is that I have a slight cold and mixed up a batch of my olive oil, lemon, honey cough syrup. The last time I used a lot of that was when I had my last cold in March. That’s also the exact time I noticed a big jump in my getting my histamine intolerance under control. That’s also when I started to do all my research on olive oil.
Olive oil is slightly acid-forming, honey lands somewhere in the middle and lemon juice is highly alkaline-forming. So it seems it’s a very balanced thing to take. But is that the thing that is really impacting the disappearance of the hot flashes? That one little thing? I don’t really think so. But I think it’s part of the big picture.
So ultimately what have I learned? Well for one thing, I can be quite a fool with food! But besides that, that what we eat is of paramount importance to our entire ecosystem. I mean yes, we probably know this, but when we forget our bodies will remind us.
Also, and this is the crux of the post: we can heal ourselves with food. And I don’t mean using just an elimination diet. That only works for a while because you know you’re going to need to go back and add foods in for nutritional purposes as well as boredom. I mean that we can bring balance back into our system with an array of healthy foods if we educate ourselves about our bodies and our bodies’ needs.
I go back to the idea that the medical community keeps throwing hormones at women to stop hot flashes. What about putting them on a low acid forming diet? And I’m not talking about the ones who are histamine intolerant. I’m talking about the women who don’t get hives or itch but have a myriad of menopausal symptoms that can be controlled or eliminated through diet.
Why do I have to spend hours digging through medical abstracts and websites looking for the links to food and menopause?
We need to take back control of our bodies ladies! Your doctor is not going to tell you to eat raisins and figs to bring your body into balance. He’s going to give you Premarin, the drug made of the urine of a mare, to stop your hot flashes.
Let me just interrupt myself here and say that I realize I sound like some hormonal activist, or let me correct that, an activist for hormonal control, the longer I work on this blog. But it makes me crazy that the medical community and big pharma tries to convince women there is something wrong with their bodies when they are transitioning through this part of their life.
But back to the issue at hand. We’ll see how it goes, but I’m pretty confident that if you analyze the lists of foods, both for histamine intolerance and for acid/alkaline-forming, you might really see a correlation between your diet and your menopausal symptoms. I know this because when I was being absolutely vigilant with my diet for the worst months of my intolerance, and the maintenance thereafter, I was hot flash free. When I got cocky about what I could eat, my hot flashes came back with a vengeance. It does not take a rocket scientist, or a doctor, to see the relationship.
I do plan on getting some pH test strips to test my body’s pH levels and see if I can actually prove a correlation, so stay tuned for that.
But in the meantime ladies, put down the cheese and step away from the chocolate…or if you won’t do that at least have a handful of raisins and a big glass of lemon water…but get that body in balance!
These are a couple of sites I’ve found with really good information on pH and the acid and alkaline foods:
This site has great instructions on how and when to test your pH and what the numbers mean. It’s made a big difference in my understanding of when to test and what is going on in my body.
This site has a good explanation and some other good information of pH balance and a good chart of foods.
This is also a very good site. It has a link at the top of its page that leads to another good site too.
This site backs up the idea of drinking lemon water to reduce hot flashes by alkalizing your system.
Please let me know what you think. Leave comment or drop me a line. I’d love to hear opinions!
And as always…have a healthful day.
Edit: Sunday, November 24, 2013: So after that big long pH diatribe, one thing struck me. What if my first symptom of histamine intolerance is hot flashes, and because I ate so badly I started to fill my histamine bucket and just managed to stop before it overflowed into itching…I don’t know. Like I said, I don’t think it’s ever just one thing. But I always figured the hot flashes were higher up on the histamine scale. Just now I thought what if they’re really low and easy to trigger?