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Good evening. First of all I wanted to thank you, I found your book on food sensitivity very helpful. It is very well written and helped me understand many things about food and digestion.
Second of all, I thought you might know something about Tyramine. I have seen several doctors and none of them had even heard of such thing as Hypersensitivity to Tyramine, so I did my own research after experiencing strange symptoms. I am a 40 y. o. musician and I enjoy a healthy lifestyle ( balanced diet + daily exercise). I do not take any medication, not even birth control pills, and the only only thing the doctors found was that my serotonin was a little low.
So overall my health is good except for a recently diagnosed intolerance to Tyramine. For instance if I eat a few slices of salami on an empty stomach it will trigger an attack, which is always the same : I get a really fast heartbeat + increased blood pressure + nausea 15 mn after ingestion. Sometimes the heart palpitations last for 1/2 h ( 120-130 bpm), and the nausea + lightheadedness will last for a day, depending on the type of food, the amount I ingested, if I am tired etc…
I am 99% sure the culprit is Tyramine, which is a natural amine found in all foods but much higher in foods that are aged, fermented, pickled ( salami, cheese, sauerkraut, smoked salmon, anchovy paste, etc… ), in foods that have been stored for a long time ( nuts, dried fruits…) and also in overripe fruits like bananas, oranges and avocados.
The list of foods I was reacting to was so eclectic, I couldn’t find the link between them for a long time, it was very perplexing and scary and i lost a lot of weight.
I did some research, started an elimination diet and read about the cheese migraine symptoms in a online medical forum. Later I found a list of Tyramine loaded foods in which I recognized every single food that had triggered an attack after I ingested it. There is no test to confirm my theory but since I eliminated these Tyramine loaded foods from my diet I haven’t had an attack, I feel much better and less terrified of eating, and I am even putting some weight back on ( 112 lbs for 5’4″).
Soon hopefully I will feel strong enough to start reintroducing these foods into my diet in very small quantities, and I hope to get myself desensitized a little bit, unless of course one day I wake up free of this strange condition that appeared for no reason and might disappear the same way.
I guess what is very puzzling to me is the fact that this sensitivity appeared out of the blue, that the symptoms are so violent and that I DO NOT get migraines. People who have problems with foods high in Tyramine usually are either migraine sufferers and/or on antidepressant ( MAOs).
I do not take any medication and my symptoms are always exactly the same 5 to 10 mn after ingesting the culprit food : tachycardia + hypertension + tremors + nausea and sometimes light headache when the attack is really bad. After having had about 14 attacks within the last 12 months it is such a relief to be able to eat again !
And as I read your book I also realized how lucky I am to be able to avoid the culprit food so easily, and to be able to enjoy my favorite foods, which is fresh produce, without limitation.
Now my goal is to put the word out and hopefully glean more information about this still poorly known food allergy.
So my question to you is, have you ever heard of someone who shares the same symptoms ?
Do you know anyone who is familiar with the effects of Tyramine on the digestive and the nervous system ?
Anything will help, a link, a name, anything; your feedback is important to me.
Thank you much
Sophie ( San Francisco, CA)
Thanks for your interesting letter. I am answering it on the blog so that others understand reactions like yours and why I call the diet investigation Diet Detective Work!
You have raised lots of interesting issues which I will comment on.
Food sensitivity is a complex condition.
Each food sensitive person has their own cluster of symptoms. You mention migraine. People sensitive to amines [of which tyramine is one] often report migraine or Irritable Bowel Syndrome [IBS] and they occasionally report some of the symptoms you have with their migraine or IBS.
Yours are unusual in that you do not have the usual ‘main symptom’. But that does not make them any the less important for you or for others who have less often reported symptoms. Many patients comment on symptoms such as fuzzy thinking, mood changes, bad dreams, mood changes, in addition to their ‘main symptom’.
It is hard enough to have people and professionals accept that the ‘main symtoms’ may have a food component. Having them accept symptoms such as yours is going to take time!
You have also raised another reason why food sensitivity is complex.
You note that the effects last longer if you are ‘tired etc’. That is because of the Total Body Load idea described in Are You Food sensitive? Readers can go to Chap 2 Understanding Food Sensitivity to see all there is to learn. We still do not know why people like you have their symptoms come on at a particular time in their lives. Sometimes we can see that it may have been with change in diet to more flavoured or take-away food, hormone changes, a different environment, increase in smells, or stress.
Sensitivity can also decrease at other times, perhaps with attention to all aspects of diet, decrease in any of the above factors, or for no apparent reason we can see. Another trick is not to expand the diet when you feel ‘fragile’, but do so when you feel ‘robust’.
Another reason why food sensitivity is complex is that there is no test that shows you what you are sensitive to. With allergy there is, so it is very frustrating for people who know they have reactions to be told they are not allergic to any food, or to find that if they exclude the one or two foods they have been shown to be allergic to the reactions still occur, as they are sensitive to food chemicals, not allergic to some food protein.
Doing what you did is the best way to show you are sensitive. That is going on an elimination diet excluding all the suspect chemicals outlined in Are You Food sensitive? preferably with the help of a dietitian. That shows diet has a role, and you get a baseline with symptoms improved.
The important next step that verifies food sensitivity is to carefully reintroduce low risk foods and see where symptoms return. Look at ‘Conducting Single food trials’, and the ‘Food glossary’, especially ‘Tolerance is affected by’ in Are You Food sensitive?
The most important Diet Detective Trick re amines is to use your nose. See ‘Supertasters and Supersmellers’ in Are You Food sensitive? and the article ‘What’s smell go to do with it!’ on the home page www.ozemail.com.au/~breakey
Sophie, you have provided a good example of just how complex diet investigation is and of how you believed in yourself, had the medical investigations, and pursued your intuition that diet had a role. I hope other readers take heart from your example and my comments.