I’m Allergic to Everything!

I’ve recently had a few people tell me that they are allergic to everything, so I thought I would write a post to address what that means and the best way to approach these super-allergies. People who are allergic to everything often have outward signs of their allergy: eczema, asthma, hives, itching, headaches, sinus infections, they feel stuffed up, can’t breath, feel tired and overwhelmed.


Allergic to everything is no fun and there is a not-so-easy way out of this mess. There is a way out, though, and it comes in the form of a diet called an allergy elimination diet.

What Does Diet Have to do with Allergies?

The first question that pops into most people’s head when I tell them to try a diet for their allergies is: what does a diet have to do with allergies? After all, they are allergic to something in your environment, not a food.

Environmental allergies happen to a lot of people in spring when there are dramatic increases in pollen, but it can also occur in winter when we are spending more time inside and there is less fresh air in the house.

There are good reasons why, even if you have environmental allergies that you would want to try the allergy elimination diet:

The key to understanding using diet to control your allergies are these points:

  • The first is that there is very little you can do to change the outside world. Yes, you can stay inside when the pollen counts are high, but what if your problem is the mold in the house?  Food allergies are easier to control, because you have control over what you put in your mouth. That being said, it can be much easier said then done and requires a lot of label reading, eating foods that are farmed and processed correctly, and eating close to the food’s original state as possible. By reducing your food allergies, you are reducing the overall “allergic load” on your body, so that when you encounter environmental allergies, they are less likely to impact you.
  • The second reason why using diet works to reduce allergies has to do with your immune system.  Most people are unaware that over 80 percent of the immune system is located surrounding their digestive system. This makes sense because, when you eat foods, you are bringing the outside world into your body and your body has to determine whether this “outside world” or food is safe or not. When you are constantly eating foods that you are allergic to, you cause your immune system to become hyper-aware, leading to a more allergic you.

Food Allergies and Food Intolerance

Before we move on to the diet, I should spend a moment explaining food allergies and food intolerances:

  • Food Allergies: A food allergy generally means that your immune system is attacking the food you are eating as if it were a foreign invader. The body produces immunoglobulins (Ig for short) that attach to the protein in the food and then you immune system creates inflammation to try to rid itself of the foreign “invasion”. It is fairly easy to discover food allergies as there are a wide variety of skin and blood tests that can measure your body’s immune response (or the amount of Igs in your body).
  • Food Intolerance: Food intolerance is different. The classic food intolerance is lactose intolerance, where your body lacks the ability to digest the sugar in lactose. There are many other intolerances that are the result of different parts of the immune system being activated (other than the Igs), sensitivities to certain foods, inability to digest other foods, or a toxic reaction.

The most common food allergies and intolerances are: eggs, grains (especially gluten grains and corn), soy, nuts, shell fish and seafood.

Allergy Elimination Diet

The best way to uncover your allergies is to do an allergy elimination diet. You will find different types of these diets all over, but this is the one I recommend:

For two weeks, remove the following foods:

  • Food Additives: Including monosodium glutamate (MSG), artificial preservatives,sweeteners, flavors and all food colorings.
  • Grains: Avoid all gluten-based grains, including: wheat, spelt, barley, kamut, rye, oats or triticale. Avoid pasta, flour, breads, cereals, cookies and other foods made with gluten grains. You should also exclude corn, along with high fructose corn syrup, corn oil, vegetable oils, corn chips and popcorn.
  • Alcohol: Avoid beer, wine and other alcohols. If you are really strict, you want to avoid mouth wash with alcohol and cough medicine containing alcohol.
  • Citrus Fruits: Including, tangerines, oranges, grapefruits, limes, lemon and any other citrus fruits.
  • Shellfish: These include, crab, lobster, clams, mussels and other shellfish.
  • Nuts: All nuts, including peanuts, pecans, walnuts, cashews, pistachios and other nuts.
  • Diary: All sources of dairy, including butter, cheese, milk, cottage cheese, whey protein, yogurt, sour cream and other dairy foods.
  • Soy: Soy is in a lot of processed foods, so you have to watch our for this, including tempeh, edamame, soy nuts, textured soy protein, tofu.
  • Eggs: Yolks and the whites.
  • Sweeteners: honey, fructose, dextrose, maple syrup, white sugar, maltose.

Foods that are allowed include:

  • Grains: You can choose any of these grains: rice, quinoa, millet, amaranth, foods such as rice cakes or crackers made from these grains are okay.
  • Fruits and Vegetables: All vegetables and fruits are okay except the citrus fruits and strawberries. Salad greens are generally great, as are broccoli, cabbage, carrots and other vegetables.
  • Beans: All beans are okay except soy beans.
  • Protein: Meat is generally okay.

If you find you react to a food that is generally considered safe (I’ve seen this with potatoes), then add that to your avoid list.

The foods you crave, unfortunately are often the foods you are allergic to, so be prepared to have some serious cravings. The foods you crave are also the ones you should reintroduce first.

I generally recommend that you stay away from all allergic-like foods for two weeks and then start testing. You test by trying just one food at a time (per day), you should also consider eating a lot of it to make sure of the reaction. Wait a day or two and then try the next food.

There is hope if you are allergic to everything. Following an allergy elimination diet is hard, but it is the best way to find foods that don’t agree with you.

READ PART TWO OF THIS ARTICLE: Allergic to Everything, Part Two

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About the Author

I'm Dr. Scott Olson ND. I'm a Naturopathic doctor who specializes in diet, health, nutrition, and alternative medicine. I've written numerous books and articles on health, medicine, and alternative medicine I want to help you get healthy! Take a look at my blog and make sure you join in the conversation!

215 Comments on this article. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. Jack June 3, 2015 at 7:43 pm - Reply

    “Food allergies are something you can change easily: simply avoid the food and you solve the problem”

    I had a good long laugh over this.
    Try avoiding soy, dairy, wheat gluten and corn, various fruits, vegetables, tomatoes, peppers, citric acid … goddamned St. Louis biotech company.

    • Dr. Scott June 4, 2015 at 3:40 pm - Reply


      Thanks for your comment. You are exactly right. I didn’t mean to imply that it was easy to avoid all allergens. I will re-write it.

      Dr. Scott

  2. Baylee June 3, 2015 at 1:22 pm - Reply

    I cannot find any shampoo’s that do not aggravate my scalp. I was told by a dermatologist that I have eczema on my scalp, but further reading of the differences and symptoms it seems i have many symptoms of both eczema and psoriasis. I am on a very strict diet and have no eaten foods with soy, peanuts, gluten, and many more. Problem is I have a topical allergy to Soy and Gluten, So I’m not sure if there are Shampoo ingredients/ chemicals that still contain Soy and I am just unaware, or if there is another ingredient that may be flaring my scalp up?

    • Dr. Scott June 4, 2015 at 3:54 pm - Reply


      Honestly, it is hard to tell the source of your problem. If you go online and look for low-allergy personal care products, there are sites that specialize in this. A local health food store should do the same. You are right about what you are eating too might be the problem. The best approach is eliminating almost all allergens and then slowly reintroducing them.

      Dr. Scott

  3. Caol May 29, 2015 at 9:58 pm - Reply

    Thanks, I went to the doctor and of course she gave me strong steroids to take for 3 weeks. I told her I didn’t want them and she said we have to get rid of the inflammation. My whole skin was inflamed bad. So i took it as I was desperate but I’m scared of it, very scared. I have had it a few times in my life but only for a week at a time and when I was done, the rash would come right back. This time she is weaning me off it so I will be on it for a total of 3 weeks. It’s day 5 and the rash is only starting to go away today, the itching is getting less and less every day. I have found a doctor/naturopath/homeopath who had allergies herself and I made an appointment with her. I am willing to do anything at this point. I will try her and see how it goes. Thanks for answering.

    • Dr. Scott May 30, 2015 at 8:05 am - Reply

      It sounds like you made the right choice; sometimes drugs are what you need. It sounds like the slow taper is a good choice as well. Glad you have found someone to work with! Good luck.

      Dr. Scott

  4. Trish K. May 20, 2015 at 11:42 pm - Reply

    Dr. Scott, I have done all the testing, food fasting elimination diet, But the only thing that does not bother me is Meat and Some dairy, I have a Nickle allergy not just to jewelry but to everything containing nickle it does not make me swell up it makes me break out into little sores all over my arms face and back of neck, it starts about now in may and will last till late Oct or early November I have tried everything for the sores not to appear I even quit smoking it is what my Doctor calls an Environmental allergy Soy and anything with soy in it which everything on the market has soy in it. I have had this all my life but just found out about it two years ago. I am so scared up from this I was even hospitalized two years ago because one of the sores was infected to the point they thought it is Mrsa almost lost my hand over it. What I want to know is if there are any studies for the nickle allergy would you let me know I already know what I can and cannot have in form of food and products I just do not like the fact that I have tried everything to make this disappear I do not get it in the winter months here in Wisconsin just from May till November so basically I am allergic to summer. I can only use Dove Products in the bathroom Mr. clean products to clean with, and eat Meat and some dairy, I can only drink and cook with distilled water bath in filtered water.

    All I want is some answers for this the doctor I was seeing for this told me that I should seal all my windows with plastic in the summer months and live indoors I cannot do that…I have a thyroid disease, small vessel disease of the brain, I suffered several strokes in 2009 I believe this is all connected in some way

    So if you know of any medical studies of Nickel Allergy please let me know. midwestgal769@gmail.com

    • Dr. Scott May 21, 2015 at 7:56 am - Reply

      Hi Trish,

      Sorry for your troubles. I haven’t known too many people with this problem, but there are journal articles on it: Low Nickel Diet in Dermatology. It sounds like you are allergic to pollens and other things in the air during summer and that increases your sensitivity. Try working on a low allergy diet and you can find cleaner products that Dove and Mr Clean (check out a health food store). Best of luck.

      Dr. Scott

  5. Carol May 12, 2015 at 4:01 pm - Reply

    I have had allergies all my life, the main one being eczema but not sure what I am allergic to. They have done tests and just found out that I am allergic to dust mites. But lately other allergies are starting, I seem to get an allergy every single night right after I eat dinner. I don’t seem to get it in the morning after breakfast or after lunch either. But it varies, some days I have it worse after I eat than others. it starts with tingling in the throat and then progresses to severe itching over my entire body, right from the top of my head to my toes. it lasts for several hours and comes with a strange feeling in my whole body, like I feel a toxic reaction in every cell of my body. I have eliminated some foods that I found cause it, such as red wine and some spices. The other day I ate a banana thinking that would be fine, but got a huge rash after on my whole body. I’ve eaten then since with no reaction. I have had it for two years now and it’s driving me crazy. Most of my allergies only come while I have an eczema flare up and I’ve had that for 2 years as well. I now have a rash over my entire body, everywhere except my face and hands (my hands have eczema) This body rash is different than eczema, it’s small red itchy bumps and never progresses to exzema. It’s been a week now with this rash and driving me crazy. Not sure what to do, doctors are no help. They just keep giving me creams and steroids, all of work for just a short period. I guess I’ll fast for a few days and then introduce some foods slowly to see what cause sit. Or if everything causes it. Not fun to live with, I’m a huge itchy mess. I eat healthy, always have, lift weights, hike, exercise, have no health problems and I’m 65. Very slender, no weight problem.

    • Dr. Scott May 14, 2015 at 10:30 am - Reply

      Carol, if you are willing to fast, that is a great way to go. Most testing has problems and only tell you part of what you are allergic to or tell you the wrong information. Fasting (or an elimination diet) is the best way to go. I would suggest a slow introduction of new foods (only add one back and then wait a few days). This takes time, but can really help you figure it out. It sometimes takes a while for a reaction to occur, so slow introduction and waiting is the best approach.

      Good luck,

      Dr. Scott

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