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.

Sneeze

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 something you can change easily: simply avoid the food and you solve the problem. 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!

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

  1. Shelley November 17, 2014 at 5:50 pm - Reply

    I just recently found that I am allergic to Corn, Rice, Soy, Eggs, Milk, most veggies, peanuts, oats, onion, lettuce, cabbage and a few other foods including some spices. I am finding it really hard to find anything that I can eat that doesn’t swell my throat up after eating or drinking it. I have more skin tests scheduled to be done for fish fruits and other nuts so maybe that might give me a little more variety of food to eat, but until then what do you do when there really isn’t a substitute being that everything is really made with corn. I have been eating chicken and beef but even then it is hard finding ones that are not corn fed as even that makes me break out. I miss FOOD and having normal meals. 90 percent of the food we have in our house I am now allergic too. Some of the foods on my allergy list that were low I have had stronger reactions too so I am trying not to experience too much with other things that I have not been tested with because my throat swells up and I start gasping for air…. I have spent hours on google looking up corn free meals, but then they have rice or soy or something else that I can’t find another substitute for HELP!

    • Dr. Scott November 19, 2014 at 2:56 pm - Reply

      Shelly, staying away from corn, corn products, and animals that are fed corn can be very difficult. I would encourage you to look at the skin tests are being only partially correct. The skin tests only test part of your immune system; the only real test is to remove something and then replace it (and see how you react). I find a few things on your list (rice, veggies…) to not be common allergens (not that you can’t have allergies to them, but it is just not that common). You can get grass-fed beef or look for wild game (do you know any hunters?). Do you have access to a Whole Foods or other health food store? They can help you there.

      It sounds like you are very reactive, but that should calm down as you find the foods you really need to stay away from.

      Best of luck,

      Dr. Scott

  2. Ev Bates November 7, 2014 at 11:20 pm - Reply

    Hi Dr. Scott- My daughter has suffered with a GI illness, EG (Eosinophilis Gastronentritis) for over 3 years and after being on many antihistamines and many drugs( 22 pills a day for a while) that have caused more and worst symptoms, she now takes prevacid for GERD, an antihistamine for the elevated eosinophils and Vyvanse so she can focus in school. She is 17 yrs old. We have tried the 8 food elimination diet 3 times and never has it made a difference with her abdominal pain. We just spent a week at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN and they did the RAST food allergy test and she was allergic to over 1/2 of the 50 foods that were tested. Of the 8 most common, only wheat which was surprising and she is allergic to- apples, oranges, kiwi, cherry, bananas, all grains except soybean, beef but not chicken or pork, garlic and others. She is not allergic to: melon, raspberry, grapes, coconut, vanilla, eggs, milk, shell or non shell fish, tree nuts or non tree nuts, or soy. I have not had a chance to get in to see her allergy dr yet but if milk is an ok food, would derivatives like butter or cream be ok? What about other things you would bake with like baking powder, baking soda, sugar, brown sugar? Should I be worried about olive oil? Thanks for any advice you can give!

    • Dr. Scott November 9, 2014 at 7:51 am - Reply

      It sounds like you have investigated the food allergy side of things pretty well. Know that almost any testing, except remove and challenge has some drawbacks (for example, RAST allergy testing doesn’t test the same part of the immune system as is in the digestive tract – there is some overlaying, but it is not perfect.). Yes, if milk is okay, then derivatives are okay was well. I would try removing all common allergens: all grains except rice, soy, dairy, nuts, shellfish, eggs and see what happens after two weeks and then slowly reintroduce (give it a few days for each). The other side of the equation are the gut flora and this may be where the allergic reaction is developing from. I’m not a big fan of probiotics, but do like fermented foods. There is even (if you are up for something so crazy) research about fecal transplant working for many conditions, although I haven’t seen any research on your daughter’s condition, but there are some stories out in the web. (see an article here: http://thepowerofpoop.com/robbys-story/).

      Best of luck!

      Dr. Scott

      • Ev Bates November 9, 2014 at 9:24 pm - Reply

        Thanks Dr. Scott. I should have mentioned that my daughter takes Digestive Advantage probiotics but has not seen any difference since starting that regiment. We will try a modified diet and see if it makes a difference. I have read articles about ingesting poop. Especially with older people that keep getting C-diff and different types of things that could potentially lead to death in very old people. I appreciate you taking the time to respond and your lengthy reply. I will let you know how it goes.

        • Dr. Scott November 10, 2014 at 7:59 am - Reply

          Would love to hear how it goes. I think taking away the most common allergens (even though you have done it before) may give you a better idea of what is going on than the testing. Changing the flora in her gut may be the best solution, but I haven’t seen probiotics do the trick for many people. It is a long discussion, but the bacteria in probiotics may not be what we need (even though they are commonly found in most of us); hence the suggestion for fermented foods and fecal transplant.

          Best of luck,

          Scott

        • Dr. Scott November 10, 2014 at 12:45 pm - Reply

          Ev, let me give you one more suggestion. I’m doing a research review on the herb Boswellia and it has shown some promise for use in Ulcerative Colitis. It is a long shot, but Boswellia is considered fairly safe and it appears to effective at reducing gastrointestinal inflammation. As with anything I suggest, it is good to check with your health care provider first before trying anything.

          Scott

  3. Rhonda A November 1, 2014 at 3:25 pm - Reply

    I recently found out I am allergic to 98 % of the foods I eat on a daily basis. Soy, Milk, all fruits, except pears, green, and yellow apples. All vegetables except for asparagus and cauliflower. I am in my forties. The symptoms slowly started when I was 39. Now I have inhalers and other meds to control hives, inflammation, and asthma attacks. How do I figure out the cause my body is reacting to foods that are healthy for the body. I feel like something else has caused this problem within my digestion system. Please give me some direction.

    • Dr. Scott November 2, 2014 at 8:26 am - Reply

      Rhonda,

      It all depends on how you determined that you are allergic to those foods. Most tests aren’t 100 percent accurate. It sounds like you are having reactions to these foods and that is how you found out. I would say remove all the top allergic foods, which are soy, egg, dairy, nuts, most grains (except rice), and shellfish. See if that works for you. Then focus on digestive enzymes and probiotics. Avoid all vegetable oils (except olive and coconut), as they cause inflammation. Avoid all processed foods because they contain potential allergens.

      Hope that helps,

      Dr. Scott

  4. Britney October 23, 2014 at 7:28 am - Reply

    Dr. Scott,

    This is a very interesting article. I have been wanting to open a new blog for people who are multiple allergy sufferers. I am a nurse who had my third son 14 weeks ago. Since all my boys had dairy/soy intolerance when they were babies, I thought I knew immediately what needed to be done when Parker came screaming hours upon hours with projectile spit-up. Long story short, bloody BMs (that is when he had bloody and green BM’s, he wouldn’t go but once every week to 10 days), plus a rash and constant never ending congestion, which I need to wake up at least 3 times a night to suction him out. I realized there were more. By his 2 month check up there was this definitive list (corn, wheat, gluten, dairy, soy). Then we found more (garlic, sulphite, cinnamon, apples, peaches); however, we know there is more because I am breastfeeding and I have eliminated these things and when I am only eating white rice and chicken (free-range, antbx free etc) he has yellow seedy BM’s like he should, but if I veer away and eat something else (potatoes, carrots, mixed veggies fresh, bananas) there seems to be a reaction and intolerance. Obviously, I am still learning. His pediatrician at 10 weeks told me that I absolutely needed to stop breast feeding and put him on Allimentum. I asked again if Allimentum was free of all of his allergens (including corn, soy, dairy) he said yes. I had gotten Parker to the point where his BM’s were coming once a day and yellow again without visible blood and Allimentum had corn in it! I was so angry. I am still breastfeeding and I know his pediatrician will be peeved at me, but I am all for vaccinating; however, with his severity and wheezing when corn allergen is introduced, I am going to be opting out of all vaccines (which saddens me as I want him to be protected, but not at the expense of reactions)– pediatrician will be doubly peeved. Any words of wisdom, advice? Also, why elimlinate 100% pure maple syrup? I have been using it to flavor quinoa in the morning for breakfast, is this why he has been going downhill again or is it due to potatoes, carrots that have been in my diet up until recently?

    Thank You!

    • Dr. Scott October 23, 2014 at 9:02 am - Reply

      Britney,

      Sorry for all your troubles; sounds like you have been through a lot. I commend you for working so hard to find a solution and it sounds like everything you are doing is right and I’m surprised as you are that your doc would recommend Allimentum. I would agree with you on the vaccinations; you don’t have to avoid them altogether, but consider them when he is older (perhaps over 2 years old) and choose the ones he needs most (sounds like you are educated enough to make that decision). I like The Vaccine Book by Robert W. Sears, MD for a balanced view on the subject. As far as what you are eating and what your son in allergic to, I wish I had a quick remedy for you. Every form of allergy testing has flaws in it except for removal and reintroduction and this is hard enough when you are dealing with yourself and even harder when it is a child you are breastfeeding. As far as picking the most common allergens, they are wheat, corn, soy, egg, milk, nuts, and shellfish. Other common ones are citrus fruits, strawberries, bananas, tomatoes, and potatoes. I would recommend avoiding all grains except for rice and then focusing on vegetables (I’m surprised he reacted to mixed veggies and carrots). Other meats (beef, buffalo, elk…) should all be okay, but test to find out.

      I am happy to help support you if you do decide to create a blog, it is greatly needed.

      Hope that helps,

      Dr. Scott

      • Britney November 2, 2014 at 8:31 am - Reply

        Good morning Scott,

        I started my blog and have been adding information as well as products that are hypoallergenic that most can use. I am still adding daily to it, including recipes. If you would want to give me further direction on how to make it grow or a link that would be awesome. I plan to link your site within mine for easy access.

        The web address is http://www.allergyfreetummy.com

        Thank you,
        Britney

        • Dr. Scott November 2, 2014 at 9:10 am - Reply

          Awesome! Looks great! Honestly, the best way to grow a website is to write with passion and personality (which is something I’m constantly trying to learn). If you want to write a blog on your story and journey, I would be happy to post it to my site with links back to yours.

          Scott

  5. Irene October 2, 2014 at 12:48 pm - Reply

    Dr. Scott,
    You may have the answer to our problems. I have a child ( now young adult) that I believe is allergic to everything. I once thought bromhidrosis was his condition. That wasn’t it. He suffers with continual GAS, all the time. My son’s life has gone from bad, to pretty bad, really bad;
    as you well know this is unlike a cancer or a deformity, it is socially unacceptable. After ten (10) plus years, of just not knowing, not knowing if there is a name for this condition, not knowing that it could be all in my his head. And see all the sadness and hopelessness; people are so cruel and uncaring.

    Do you have any suggestions for us?

    • Dr. Scott October 5, 2014 at 5:10 pm - Reply

      The best approach to gas is to remove offenders: dairy (including cheese, yogurt…), sugars, grains. Stay away from them for a few days and see if it works; if it does, you know you are on the right track. Put one food back in at a time. You can also try digestive enzymes and consider probiotics (although I would do this last).

      Best of luck,

      Dr. Scott

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