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Feeling Fatigued and Achey? You May Have This Deficiency That Frequently Affects Women Over 40

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Feeling fatigued, achy, and exhausted can be an indicator of something going on with your health. When your body has too much histamine, this can cause you to experience those side effects. However, there’s some easy lifestyle tweaks you can make to keep these symptoms at bay.

“I can’t tell you how often I speak to patients and discover that the source of many of their health challenges turns out to be histamine intolerance,” notes Amy Myers, MD, author of The Autoimmune Solution (Buy on Amazon, $12.49). “Histamine is a compound made by the body and found in many foods, and its role is to cause an immediate inflammatory response; it serves as a red flag in your immune system, telling your body about potential attackers. But if you don’t break down histamine properly, it builds up in your bloodstream.” The result: fatigue, body aches, allergy-like symptoms, and more.

Eighty percent of sufferers are females over 40, but most go undiagnosed. “Many never know what the root cause of their symptoms is,” Dr. Myers says. A top cause of overload: a genetic deficiency in DAO, an enzyme that breaks down histamine. Your doctor can run tests to confirm an overload, but if you’re experiencing symptoms, you’ll likely benefit from the steps below:

  • Avoid histamine-rich foods for 30 days: That includes aged cheeses, fermented fare, and vinegar, plus nuts and processed meats. Also smart: Skip alcohol, and black and green tea (they block DAO from breaking down histamine). Symptoms should ease in as little as a week, and after a month, you can slowly reintroduce foods to see which ones trigger symptoms.
  • Replenishing DAO can help: Dr. Myers advises taking a DAO supplement like Histazyme, (Buy on Amazon, $79.97) 15 minutes before meals. Consult your doctor before supplementing. And Jill Carnahan, MD, advises cooking with olive oil and eating wild-caught salmon several times a week (fatty acids in the foods boost DAO levels).

A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, First For Women.

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