In a recent blog, we talked about the importance of including Vitamin C foods in your every day. It really is one of the unsung heroes of helping set up safety in your body by stabilizing your mast cells!
But there is another vitamin we wish to draw your attention to...
May we introduce you to Quercetin.
Quercetin is a compound found in foods, classified as a flavonoid. Flavonoids are best known for their anti-oxidant properties. You’ll find it in the pigments of plants, in fruit and vegetables, and in tea. Thankfully, it is the most abundant dietary flavonoid out there in the world. (1)
Our favourite thing it does – it helps stabilize your mast cells. (2, 3) This means quercetin helps inhibit histamine release, and when you do this work, now you start to reduce your body’s reactivity.
When your mast cells are stabilized, they feel safer. When they feel safer, they reduce how much histamine they are releasing! Do this on a continued basis, and now your body starts to feel safer, and you are now reducing what is triggering your symptoms.
Antioxidants to help quell inflammation
In addition to helping stabilize mast cells, quercetin is well known for working at reducing inflammation. Inflammation is one of the contributors to your body not feeling safe!
Quercetin? Think of it as the guy who helps put out the fires of inflammation. When these fires go out, now you reduce some of what is triggering your body to release histamine, and now you’re reducing what’s driving your symptoms.
To Supplement, or Not to Supplement
As mentioned on a recent blog, this is always something that comes up in conversation. Can you supplement this one or not?
Our usual answer: start with low histamine quercetin rich foods first. Your body was designed to extract nutrients from your diet, and to get the nutrients you need through the foods you eat.
In certain cases, adding in a quercetin supplement will be of benefit. The trouble here is that quercetin inhibits the COMT pathway (Catechol-O-Methyltransferase). (6)
Why this is important: the COMT enzyme is involved in breaking down catecholamines, including neurotransmitters like dopamine, epinephrine and histamine. If this enzyme is already low, quercetin has potential to reduce it further, making it harder to clear histamine.
You need quite a few nutrients for this pathway to operate properly. If you’re lacking in some of those key nutrients -- magnesium, for one – this may have a negative impact on how well this pathway works in your body. That’s the first thing to know.
In addition, and without getting too technical, if you are one of the people who have a genetic variation associated with low COMT activity (it happens!), then adding in a quercetin supplement might make you feel worse. Most people wouldn’t know they have a genetic variation unless genomic testing is done. We talk about this genetic variation in a bit more detail on pages 12-13 of our book.
Some supplements also add other ingredients to the mix, which can potentially trigger histamine release in your body. Each body is unique, and supplementation requires a customized approach.
Your tolerance to anything new needs to be tested. This is all part of your self-discovery on this histamine journey! We recommend you take your time and introduce a supplement slowly if this is a route you wish to take. If you are in Canada, check out our online supplement store here to see which brands we recommend.
Things to know
Quercetin is one of those food compounds that is found in abundance in a variety of foods, from fruits and vegetables to nuts, seeds and other foods. Read on!
Good thing to note: this nutrient is typically found in higher amounts in the peel of your fruit or vegetable. So, wherever you can, eat the peel! Interestingly enough, studies show that in some instances, organically grown fruit or veg have a significantly higher amount of quercetin in their fruit or veggies. Reach for organic if you can!
One study has shown that to better absorb the quercetin from the foods you’re eating, make sure to have a good fat in the same meal. The inclusion of fat helps you get more of the quercetin into your system! (7) So drizzle that salad with olive oil, or add a pat of ghee to your steamed veggies tonight for more mast cell stabilization.
Quercetin degrades fairly quickly in the body once you’ve ingested it. Therefore, it is important to include quercetin rich foods as often as you can, in as many meals a day as you can! Lucky for you, this nutrient is found in abundance in lots of low histamine foods.
Best low histamine quercetin rich fruits to feature:
Herbs and teas:
Nuts and seeds:
How to think about this:
have an apple for a snack, or a bowl of blueberries, blackberries or cherries
if well tolerated, add bee pollen to desserts
sauté some shredded Brussels sprouts in ghee or coconut oil to go with dinner tonight
make the roasted asparagus from our cookbook on page 188
add almonds or pistachios to your salad tonight
add watercress or radicchio to your salad, or mince on top of your meal (pictured below, Cucumber Watercress Honeydew salad from our book, top right)
have a cup of green tea if tolerated
add a spoonful of capers to your roasted veggies
add some broccoli to your stir fry tonight for more quercetin
make our Chia Macadamia Parfait from p. 119; add cherries for more quercetin (pictured below, bottom right)
make the Maple Pork Tenderloin Sheet Pan Dinner recipe on p.146, lots of good sources of quercetin there (pictured below, top middle)
add fresh minced dill, chives or tarragon to your dishes
make some kale chips (find two recipes in our cookbook; pictured below, bottom left)
top your burger tonight with raw red onion slices
add a spoonful of honey to your cup of tea today (8)
Join maven Tracey in her kitchen as she prepares an Onion Cabbage Apple side dish, providing loads of quercetin:
Struggling with how to do this?
Listen. Here at Histamine Haven we want to help reduce the stress around figuring out how food can help you address potential histamine or mast cell mediated issues. Not interested in micro-managing your food intake, or find that kind of stuff overwhelming?
Here’s our advice: stick to our Shopping List (available from our Resources Page).
It has a variety of low histamine foods, sure, but the foods listed there are also great providers of Vitamin C and Quercetin to help you stabilize your mast cells. Ensure you include as many different foods from that list as you can – key aim here is for as much variety and diversity – and you’ll be including these important nutrients without having to think about it.
Need some inspiration in how to get more of these foods on your table? Order our book from your favourite online retailer. You’ll get over 140 recipes that will help you with this task. Order yours today!