Food Reaction to Amines – Part One

Biogenic Amines – what are they?

Food Reaction To Amines - Image credit to senjurNaturally occurring chemicals are a food’s natural defense system and preservative. They assist in protecting the food while it grows and ripens. Biogenic amines, like salicylates, are naturally occurring in food and the degree to which these natural chemicals are contained in each food can vary greatly. Many people become aware of a possible salicylate reaction but do not consider that they may have also had a food reaction to amines.

MSG (Mono-sodium Glutamate) is also naturally present in many foods such as tomatoes,  mushrooms and silverbeet for example,  although it is also used as a flavor enhancer in food production. MSG is a nasty food additive you should definitely avoid as a flavor enhancer. For those suffering from food intolerance symptoms, MSG should be avoided in all cases until you can sort out your food problems.

Amines are formed from of a chemical reaction with amino acids.  To put it another way, Amines are formed as a result of a breakdown of proteins or fermentation. You can learn more about a chemical reaction perspective by clicking on this link or looking at a book such as: Biogenic Amines in Food.  Or, if you would like some general information on a possible food reaction to amines and food intolerance symptoms then you can follow this link to a book by well known author Sue Dengate.

Understanding Biogenic Amines in Food

Food Reaction To Amines - Image credit to Rob Owen-Wahl - lockstockbUnlike salicylates; where the natural chemical content decreases as fruit ripens, the natural chemical content of amines increases as a food matures. So for example, as a banana ripens, the amine content increases. As meat ages, the amine content also increases, making it more likely that you will have a food reaction to amines if you suffer from food intolerance symptoms linked to amines. Where salicylates are present, in cantaloupe for example, the naturally occurring chemical content decreases with ripening.

How Many Types of Amines Are There?

Amines serve different purposes. For the sake of this article, we are only really concerned with amines from the perspective of a food reaction to amines. For this purpose, the following information is based on biogenic amines.

There is more than one type of biogenic amine and in most cases, if you suffer from a food reaction to amines, you will be tested  against biogenic amines as a whole group, rather than individually. Biogenic amines are contained in both animal and plant foods so it is possible that you can have a food reaction to amines in either of these groups. Thus, if you have a food reaction to amines, it is no good just avoiding fruits and vegetables that contain biogenic amines and still eating aged meat, for example.

The triggers for those who may have a food reaction to amines are Tyramine from the amino acid tyrosine, phenylethylamine from the amino acid phenylalanine and tryptamine from the amino acid tryptophan.

Foods That Contain Biogenic Amines

Food Reaction To Amines - Image Credit To Starfish75There are certain foods you will need to consider when looking to see if you have a food reaction to amines. A book that is internationally known and that we used in our house called Friendly Food, shows a chart indicating amine levels in certain foods. For example, it will list cocoa in a column for foods that are very high in amines. On the same chart, you can look at the “moderate” column for amines and see that foods such as banana, malt vinegar and pawpaw are listed, to name a few. I highly recommend this book for anyone who is looking to conduct a food elimination diet and find out if you have a food reaction to amines.

Common foods that can cause a food reaction to amines are red wine, aged cheese and chocolate however, do not discount other foods if you do have a food reaction to amines. As mentioned earlier, cocoa is very high in amines.

Food Reaction to Amines – Where to Next?

In this article we have shared an overview of amines. I recommend you look at purchasing the following books to guide you in finding out if  food amines are a problem for you or any other naturally occurring chemicals in food. Food intolerance symptoms can be just as debilitating as food allergies but you can overcome your food problems. This is possible once you have identified where your food problems are then using the correct foods to heal your body.

Food Allergies and Food Intolerance: The Complete Guide to Their Identification and Treatment

1. Friendly Food Cookbook

2. The Failsafe Cookbook

3. Fed Up

You can read on with Part Two of this article Food Reaction To Amines.

Your News On Food brought to you by
Eileen Baudinette
Food and Health Commentator.
© Copyright 2011-2013


I’m no medical expert and information contained on this blog is written through my own experience with the aim of furthering your education on health. It is your responsibility as to how you use this information and I cannot be held liable for any misinterpretation or misuse of the information provided.


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  1. Some really interesting stuff here Eileen. I believe so many of today’s illnesses and degenerative diseases are as a direct result of what we eat. If more people took notice of this type of information, the less sick people we would have. Keep spreading the word!
    Jan LittlehalesÃ�´s last blog post ..Slow Cooking Chicken Cacciatore – in 10 minutes

    • Hi Jan,

      So true that disease is linked to food and lifestyle. HVP is the new MSG (well, not so new now). If we took better care of our bodies then our bodies would be able to take better care of us.

      Thanks for visiting.


  2. Hi Eileen,

    As always, you are providing extremely useful and interesting knowledge about food intolerences. I, as part of my work, used to be involved in the universal testing we have here in Australia for phenylalanine in newborns. I am old enough to have grown up with one or two people who were affected with this intolerance, and knowing that it can now be avoided is a great blessing. As you have said in your posts, when we are aware of our bodies we are able to live life closer to our potential. I really enjoy visiting your site, Eileen. Thank you for your work.
    Jo Carey-BradshawÃ�´s last blog post ..Empowering Mindset – Truly Amazing Power

    • Hi Jo,
      So nice to see you posting a comment on my blog again. It is a shame to think that so many of us just think that living with fatigue, moods and poor health is something we do not have a choice over and that, that is just the way we are. I hope that people will learn from my articles and be able to make change so that they can live a healthier, more full life. Thanks again.


  3. Very interesting post Eileen. I am so grateful that none of my children have food allergies (not that I know of anyway. I hadn’t heard of biogenic amines before and you have explained it well.
    Jackie StenhouseÃ�´s last blog post ..Pregnancy Trimesters – The Third Trimester

    • Hi Jackie,
      Nice to see you here! :-) Amines had a terrible impact on my son’s health and to a lesser extent, my own. How nice it is for me to be able to eat a banana without any impact on my health now. I am glad to hear your children do not have any food allergies. Keep in mind that food intolerance symptoms can also develop over time and while you may not have any food problems as a child, you may see food problems as you get older depending mainly on the state of health of your body. Food intolerance is different to food allergy although just as debilitating. Thanks for your comment. :-)

      Regards, Eileen.

  4. A very interesting article Eileen, i had no idea what Amines were or the negative effects they can have on our body. It pays to be more in tune with our bodies and the reactions to certain foods, even though we may love that food, it could be causing unwanted problems.

    Thank you for the read.
    Belinda�´s last blog post ..Hair Extensions Cost

    • Hi Belinda,
      Thanks for popping over and leaving a comment. Yes, you are right, we should be more in tune with our bodies but sometimes with tiredness, for example, we put it down to lack of sleep or working too hard. In fact, it can be what we have eaten that has caused the lack of energy. :-)

      Regard, Eileen.

  5. Hi Eileen

    A great post, packed full of interesting information about Understanding Biogenic Amines in Food.

    I think a lot of people get quite overwhelmed about food allergies and intolerances. There is so much information out there, however it can sometimes all sound so confusing, that I think some people think it’s easier to just go to the doctor, and get a cream, for example, to cover up the symptoms.

    You rightly point out, that it is possible to heal your body. If a person is prepared to take some responsibility in their own health, and implement some steps to achieve this, they can make a difference.
    Hilary�´s last blog post ..Make Your Own Cleaning Products

    • Hi Hilary,

      Nice to see you visiting my blog – thank you. Your input as someone who has an understanding of food is valued. I hope more people become aware through what you, I and others share.

      Regards, Eileen.

  6. G’day Eileen,
    With a wife who has CFS, FM and IBS I’m very aware of food intolerance. It’s unbelieveable how certain foods affect her in a negative way.
    Good on you for bringing this info to the public, who, I hope will pay heed to your writings.

    Harry Lynn�´s last blog post ..WALLACE WATTLES REDISCOVERED Part 1

    • Hi Harry,

      I hope y our wife has been able to find a further solution to her food intolerance symptoms and heal her body. It is hard to live with a continued restricted diet and health issues. Thanks for leaving a comment Harry.

      Regards, Eileen.

  7. Hi Eileen,

    There’s some mighty comprehesive info there about food reaction to Amines. I also didn’t know that MSG was a naturally occurring additive. Are they ok when consumed this way? Is it only when we add them that they are not good for us?
    David Moloney�´s last blog post ..Choose a Cool Avatar- Essential Tips

    • Hi David,

      The amount of MSG as a naturally occurring chemical in foods varies depending on the food but does not usually impact someone that does not suffer from food intolerance symptoms. Some people believe that MSG has no impact on us but I disagree. I used to get puffy eyes and bad headaches after consuming processed foods that were high in MSG.

      I would not worry about the levels of MSG you consume naturally through food but I do not believe in the use of MSG as an additive. As an additive, it is now produced using a fermentation process. I also ask why it is we need to enhance the flavor of foods using MSG. Food in its raw state is full of flavor and the fresher the better. It is also packed full of living enzymes as opposed to cooked and killed.

      Where possible, eat more salads, drink more green smoothies or fresh juice. Avoid all additives, get sunshine and walk or exercise.

      Thanks for your comment David.

      Regards, Eileen.

  8. Having had friends whose children have varying degrees of food intolerance to amines & salycilates, I am well aware of the behavioural effects incorrect food choices brings out in these young guys. Carefully organising the family diet ensures a pleasant household. Good news is that as these children are entering their teens, additional foods have been added with less obvious effects.
    Terry Paris�´s last blog post ..Disposable Underwater Camera

    • Hi Terry,

      Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to leave a comment. Yes, you are correct in that sometimes we can grow out of food intolerance and more so if we look to treat the body so that it is healed rather than continue to restrict the diet. I chose to do this with my family so that we had more food options now rather than later. :-)



  9. Hi there, this is my first time on here. This is all so very interesteing. I’m starting to think that maybe all my health issues are an intolerance to salicylates and amines. What are the foods I should and should not be eating to try and figure this out?

  10. JoJenna Rusk says:

    Hi Eileen,
    Just wondering if it is possible to have an allergy to amines and salicylates also? Thanks for any help. I just recently discovered this type of allergy. Am a little discouraged as for all these years (I am 45 years old) I have been telling doctors I have an extreme allergy to aspirin and no one has ever said anything about this. If this is some of my problems related to feeling bad every day why was this never brought up to me by them? Just ordered the book Fed Up and looking forward to reading it. This website looks really informative and can’t wait to read more! Thanks so much in advance, JJ

    • Hi JJ,

      Yes, it is very possible that you have a problem with salicylates as this is contained in asprin. What people tend to find is that they are either more amine intolerant or more salicylate intolerant and mostly, it is the latter.

      Conventional style doctors do not understand food intolerance and I discovered that I needed to see someone who did understand food and that then led me down the food elimination diet path. You would be hitting your natural threshold and the more you have of either amines or salicylates, the worse your food intolerance symptoms will become.

      There are two things I recommend. Firstly, do a cleanse or a fast as it will give your body a chance to recover. Secondly, reduce the animal products you consume (I’m vegetarian headed toward raw vegan now by accident…but a happy accident) as highly processed animal products and meat cause damage on the inside.

      Great start to get Fed Up. It explains a lot and then I also recommend removing all additives and preservatives.

      If you are not sure what foods are the culprits then have a look at my food elimination diet post.

      Let me know how you get on. I may be able to assist further.

      Thanks for leaving a comment too! :-)

      Stay well, Eileen.

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