Kefir is not a good choice if you have histamine intolerance

Let’s just start by saying I knew this might not end well. I saw all the signs and read all the material. But like anyone else being told to not do something that will affect you adversely, I decided to do it anyway.

I’ve been feeling really good lately so I decided to wade into the probiotic universe and make myself feel really bad… Actually, I had been having stomach and bloating issues for quite some time until I identified the culprit. I had been eating a few prunes every day thinking that would help keep everything humming along if you know what I mean but actually after some research I realized the prunes were the things making me sick. They are loaded with sorbitol which my body cannot process effectively, so not only was I putting on weight because they are little sugar bombs, I was bloating up like the Goodyear blimp!

After the prune debacle, I waited a few weeks until I decided to try to kill myself with something new. I was feeling good, my stomach was flatter and I thought maybe this is now the time I can try Kefir. I also thought, “hey you feel good so why mess with it?” But the “let’s try kefir” won out and off I went brewing up batch after batch.

For those who don’t know, kefir is an ancient probiotic that is brewed from kefir grains. There is a milk version and a water version. I used the water kefir grains which grow and ferment in sugar water. Every two days you decant the water and then replenish the sugar water mixture to do it all again. The grains actually grow and multiply. It’s like trying to keep a new weird pet alive on the kitchen counter.

Now if you have histamine intolerance, you know, or I hope you know, that fermented products might be a problem. They are already high in histamine. Probiotics can also be a problem depending on the bacteria in them. Kefir luckily is both fermented and a powerhouse of probiotics that are not good for histamine intolerance!

And just to step back a minute, the reason I really wanted to try using it is because so much of our health is linked to our gut health. Also, DAO is produced in the gut and that’s the enzyme responsible for breaking down histamine in the gut, so if you have inflammation in your body, your gut biome is the first place to look.

Anyway, the first few days I only took a teaspoon of the kefir to ease myself in. I admittedly had gastro issues right away. Let’s just say the bus was way ahead of schedule. I thought, well good, it’s pushing all the bad bacteria out. I kept going and eventually my system settled down. I managed to ignore a nagging itch that seemed to pop up in a usual place and blamed other things for it because denial is a powerful antidote to common sense. I even thought it might be a Herxheimer Reaction which is when your body throws off toxins and you get gastro issues or feel like a cold or flu is coming on. But then the hot flashes started and that is not a Herx reaction. I thought let me push through. Let’s see if my body adjusts. But this morning I woke with a migraine. Even though that could also be a Herx reaction I’ve decided I’ve had enough. I am throwing in the towel on the kefir experiment. I know it’s all been a histamine thing. I will delude myself no longer!

It will take me a couple of days but I’m sure everything will stop once the kefir is out of my system. The good news is my gut will go back to having it’s own colony of bacteria quickly because without re-inoculating myself the kefir’s bacteria won’t take up permanent residence.

So what did I learn? A few things for sure.

  • I am still histamine intolerant. I can manage it to the point of having no symptoms but when I have an ill conceived idea of what my body can tolerate it will tell me so.
  • Hot flashes are a symptom of my intolerance. I’ve written about this often. I don’t need HRT to be hot flash free, but I do have to be low histamine.
  • Using the wrong probiotics can be a very bad thing if you are histamine intolerant. Based on limited research, there are species of bacteria that might be beneficial. The following are thought to downgrade biogenic amines such as histamine. Much more research needs to be done and I recommend using any with caution: Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Bifidobacterium infantis, Bifidobacterium longum, Lactobacillus plantarum, and possibly Lactobacillus reuteri. 
  • I can be really dumb sometimes.

I’m still going to research gut health but without using probiotics. I am reading up on prebiotics now. These are foods that help your gut produce its own healthy gut bacteria by feeding the ones that are already there. Chicory and asparagus are just a couple to name. Chicory is one of those things they make coffee substitutes with that I know I can drink without ill effect.

I’m not sorry I took the chance on trying the kefir. A lot of people write in and tell me they are taking probiotics and this whole thing forced me to take a good look at them and why they are not to be dabbled with lightly if you are histamine intolerant. You could be making your situation worse and not even know it because you think you are doing something healthy for yourself.

In the meantime, if anybody knows someone who would like a cup of water kefir grains let me know. I need to find a good home for them.




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Posted in histamine intolerance, Women's health
9 comments on “Kefir is not a good choice if you have histamine intolerance
  1. Maureen Davis says:

    I gave up probiotics, Keifer, Kombucha, Coffee, Tea, Chocolate, wine, beer, anything pickled or fermented last year and I feel so much better. I periodically try something to see if it will still affect me. Also sometimes I just want a cup of coffee or tea, or a piece of chocolate so I indulge. I’ve found that if I just have a little bit of something I shouldn’t be eating I’ll probably be O.K. The problem is that then I start to rationalize that well if that didn’t bother me then I can eat this or that, and before you know it I’ve eaten too much histamine producing stuff and I am suffering again. I need to stop listening to that greedy little child inside who wants what she wants NOW.

  2. Maggie says:

    I am also histamin intolerant and have been using ProBiota HistaminX by Seeking Health with great success.

  3. lisa024293 says:

    The only real probiotic stuff or fermented items I will eat tend to be sauerkraut (rare) and regular pickles, but I need to watch given the sodium. For probiotics, I can safely eat yogurt or greek yogurt, especially on antibiotics. Otherwise, my body just loathes me.

    • I can do kimchi every once in a while too. It’s pretty much like sauerkraut. Pickles don’t bother me and either does vinegar for the most part. I’ll have yogurt occasionally but I’m vegetarian. The cultured nut milks have a lot of additives in them so I tend not to eat them. And I won’t buy anything with natural flavors and that’s in everything! Nut yogurts too.

      Thanks for sharing!


  4. Linda says:

    I don’t know if I have a histamine problem or not. But I developed a terrible reaction to kefir and had very painful body aches. I don’t know if it’s the sulfur in kefir or yeast? I tolerate probiotics and other dairy and sauerkraut just fine. Have you heard of problems with sulfur or yeast that look like a histamine problem?

    • I really don’t know. But it could be the different bacteria in each product. I can eat kimchi every once in a while without issue. And yogurt. But then again I don’t have it every day like I was the kefir.

      I find it’s the things I start to do every day that build up into a problem now. Not the once in a while things. So maybe also look at that.

      Thanks for writing. I hope you figure it out. But I’m thinking kefir is something you should stay away from for now!


  5. Clare Ballam says:

    I’m so grateful for your post. About 2 hours ago in a ‘what the hell’ moment, I swiftly downed my first glass of kefir and my body has been over heating ever since. Good to know the bacteria has to be fed to live as I have been a little concerned that they would keep multiplying. Got over excited on a ‘GAPS DIET’. I can be so impulsive. Eeeeek xx

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