If you are at all familiar with my blog, then you know that I have previously discussed my experience with mold exposure, and how I self-diagnosed my food-related mold sensitivity.
I have been following a mold-free diet for over a year now, and have become well-acquainted with what foods do and don’t agree with me, especially when it comes to mold.
The following are the foods that often contain mold that I have found to be the most offensive for me personally. There is a chance that you react to some of these, but not all of them, depending on which types of mold you are sensitive to.
There could also be other foods you are sensitive to, and really any food can form mold after it sits out for awhile. Be aware while eating leftovers, that foods can harbor mold after just a few days.
If you do know you are sensitive to one type of mold, I do recommend eliminating all of the following foods, then slowly reintroducing them one-by-one to see the impact.
Also, when dealing with mold, it is important to understand that changing your diet around can only help so much if you are living in a moldy environment.
It is imperative that you ensure your home, work, car and anywhere else you spend a significant amount of time are mold-free, or changing your diet around will not be able to completely heal your health issues.
Gluten-containing grains are the first foods I gave up on my journey to health, and it has not been an easy road. Eliminating gluten is tough because it’s in SO many foods.
With that being said, eliminating it has had the most significant impact on my health. Here are some tips on going gluten free.
This staple grain very commonly contains mycotoxin-forming molds. I have found it to be almost as troublesome as gluten, and in some cases, I think I react even more strongly to corn-containing ingredients like corn starch than I do to gluten.
I recommend avoiding it as much as possible. Corn can be concealed in many products, where it has hundreds of names that don’t contain the word “corn”. For this reason, I recommend avoiding processed food as much as possible.
Some mold-free diets state that non-gluten containing grains can be eaten in moderation, but I have found that eliminating almost all grains has been very beneficial to my health.
This includes oats, millet, amaranth and sorghum and the pseudo-grain quinoa. I have not personally tried soaking grains before consuming, which I hear helps some people.
I have a fairly significant reaction when consuming these, so I have not yet experimented with soaking and sprouting, personally.
The only exceptions I have found to the “no grains” rule is that I do not have a reaction at all to rice, and buckwheat seems to be ok in small amounts. So if you still want to eat some grains, this is the way to go.
Moldy cheeses such as Blue and Gorgonzola should be obviously avoided for their visible presence of mold. However, other types of cheese can also harbor mold that is not apparent to the naked eye.
With that being said, all cheese can harbor mold, so it’s best to avoid all to be safe. Additionally, fermented dairy products like buttermilk and sour cream are already spoiled, or are very susceptible to spoilage, and commonly contain mold.
I find that it works best if I avoid dairy all together, with the exception of organic, grass-fed butter and cream.
Peanuts are well-known for containing aflatoxin, a potent toxin considered a human carcinogen. I have personally discovered that peanuts are unfortunately one of the foods that I am most sensitive to.
I have had some peanut butter that causes severe headaches and dizziness that lasts for hours and hours. I avoid peanuts and peanut butter at all costs, despite it being one of my favorite foods, because it’s just not worth the risk for me personally.
Walnuts, pistachios, cashews, brazil nuts and pecans are the nuts I have personally reacted to, and try to avoid. These also happen to be the nuts with the highest mold content.
I usually find that I do best with almonds. I have also had good luck with seeds such as pumpkin, chia, flax, hemp and sunflower, which are lower in mold.
When it comes to alcohol, beer and wine are usually not recommended. Because of the fermentation process, they both contain yeast and mold. I do not consume beer or wine, nor have I had good experiences in the past with either.
I used to think I just had the world’s lowest alcohol intolerance, because I would start getting dizzy after just a few sips. However, I know now that there are tons of impurities, yeasts, molds, sulfites and other toxins that contributed to my bad experiences.
Distilled alcohols are better options, although since most are made from grains, they can still be an issue. Reducing your alcohol consumption is the safest option.
Fruit and dried fruit
Some fruits have the ability to harbor mold, especially dried fruits. These include dates, dried and fresh mango, figs, and raisins.
Additionally, high-sugar fruits are not good for a mold-free diet because with a weakened immune system, mold can take up residence in your body.
If you are trying to heal from an environmental mold exposure, it is imperative to remove mold and yeast from your body. Avoiding foods high in sugar is one of the best ways to rid your body of mold and yeast, because sugar feeds mold.
As I mentioned above for dried fruit, it is best to avoid higher sugar foods. This of course means that eliminating processed sugar is a helpful step.
Processed sugars not only include refined white sugar, but also the “healthier” options like maple syrup, agave, coconut sugar and processed honey.
Small amounts of local or Manuka honey can be the exception, for their antibacterial and wound-healing abilities. I don’t recommend consuming large amounts of it though, especially when you have gut-based issues such as candida.
Depending on the severity of a mold allergy, there is a chance that the diet the food you eat can affect you as well. Factory-farmed meats are almost always grain-fed.
Many farmers also purposely feed their animals moldy grain and spoiled food not fit for human consumption, because it has the ability to fatten up an animal very rapidly. Mold, antibiotics and other toxins can accumulate in the tissue and fat of these animals, which we in turn then consume.
I have personally noticed that I don’t react very well to conventional meat, although I’m not sure if it’s moldy grains, antibiotics or another reason. This is one area where you can experiment to see what your body can tolerate.
Another area to be cautious of when it comes to meat is dry cured sausages, salami and pepperoni. When there is an extended drying period, the possibility of mold formation goes up.
Vinegar, yeast-containing products
Vinegars were one of the foods that I had a lot of trouble pinpointing. Some types seemed to be ok, but others ended in some bad experiences much of the time. I have found that balsamic vinegar and red wine vinegar have been the ones that negatively impact me the most.
White wine vinegar (even the stuff derived from corn), and apple cider vinegar are much better, and this is why I use these two almost exclusively these days.
Yeast-containing products are another area where there is some debate for those with a mold sensitivity. I usually avoid it, just because it usually is found primarily in processed foods, which I try to avoid.
In things like chicken broth, I have found it to be not much of a problem, but I do not consume it regularly. This is another instance where seeing what works for you is the best course of action.
This is one of those “fuzzy” areas where people often disagree. Mushrooms are a fungus, and mold is also a fungus. Therefore, a lot of people do recommend completely eliminating mushrooms from your diet if you’re sensitive to mold.
I have not personally had this experience, and seem to be ok with small amounts of mushrooms, at least the few times I have eaten them. I am however, not the biggest fan of the texture of cooked mushrooms, so I do usually avoid them anyway.
However, with that being said, I have also heard that medicinal mushrooms like Reishi and Lions Mane can be very beneficial for their adaptogenic properties.
So this is a place to play around in your diet and see what you are able to tolerate. I know I am very curious to play around with adaptogens, and will report back once I do!
Coffee, tea, chocolate
This category name can definitely be a bit intimidating, understandably. Coffee and chocolate are grown in tropical climates, where it is hot and humid, and mold formation is quite common while the beans are drying.
I am not much of a coffee consumer, but if you are familiar with Dave Asprey and Bulletproof coffee, then you know the importance of getting good quality, mold-free coffee. Try it out and see if you feel better! I know the few times I’ve tried it, I have been much less jittery than if I had a normal cup of coffee.
Teas are said to also contain mold on occasion, as a result of the leaf drying process. I have not personally found this to be a significant problem, but depending on your sensitivity, it is potentially something to watch out for.
If you feel strange after consuming conventional chocolate, it could be that the cocoa beans are contaminated. Try some good-quality dark European chocolate, and see if you feel any better! The mold standards in Europe are much more stringent than in the USA.
Which brings me to my last point…if you can go on a European vacation and eat all the pasta, dairy and bread you want with no ill effects, you might have a mold sensitivity!
Many fermented foods use mold, yeast or bacteria as part of the fermentation process. This includes sourdough bread, soy sauce (or other fermented soy products), kimchi, sauerkraut, kombucha and many other foods. If you find that any of these trigger your symptoms, you may find relief through eliminating some of them.
Other things to keep in mind
Something I did not start struggling with until more recently is a histamine intolerance. I believe this can be an underlying issue for people who experience adverse health effects from mold.
I have found significant relief from symptoms by avoiding histamine-containing and histamine-liberating foods. It could be worth looking into, if the list above is not entirely alleviating your symptoms.
If you are looking for some support on your journey to health, be sure to check out my Food-Related Mold Allergy Facebook group!
Thank you so much for this super helpful post! I was truly meant to stumble onto it tonight! I have always sneezed violently after consuming most Chocolate but discovered that Lindt chocolate doesn’t bother me at all! Interesting how so many things you’ve mentioned also bother me. Some tea, not all, gives me headaches and nausea. I’ve suffered from watery, blurry itchy eyes for a long time that comes and goes, and now I’m wondering if that is related to Mold as well? Thanks again! I will be looking into this info further!
Hi Jane, so glad you stumbled upon this! I hope this information is helpful and that you find some relief from your symptoms. To me, it sounds like those symptoms could be related to mold. You also might want to look into histamine intolerance. I’m not an expert nor a doctor, but I hear that some people have relief with a low histamine diet as well.
I think your mold sensivity symptoms match my symptoms. Tiredness and lethargy that comes from nowhere etc. I also have low ferritine (iron) in blood tests, but that doesnt explain all my fatique symptoms. I have lived in house, where was mold in there, so I might become sick there, long time ago.
Do you know if Natto is safe? I want to incorporate it into my diet as it has THE HIGHEST level of vitamin K of any food and SO MANY health benefits.
Hi Mary. I think it works for some people, but it depends on the individual, since it’s fermented. Try a little and wait a few days and see how you feel.
What about soy since it takes mold growing on it in order to be potable for humans?
Hi Jeremiah. My understanding is that some soy is fermented, which requires mold as part of the fermentation process. I recommend avoiding anything fermented, such as natto, tempeh or soy sauce. I don’t think tofu is quite as bad, although I have reacted to tofu also, so I generally recommend avoiding it. I’ll add this into the list. Thanks for commenting and I hope that helps.
Thank you so much for this! I have a question about mushrooms, did you get to experience anything with them? I am on my journey to trying a mold elimination diet and hoping that it helps, thanks again!
Hi Dylan, I avoided mushrooms while I was dealing with mold. It is generally recommended, at least for a short time (30 days or so), and then you can try reintroducing and see if they give you issues.
Greetings, what are your thoughts on eating organic wildwood brand sprouted Tofu? And what about Miso?
Thank you so much!
Hi Rose! I personally avoided soy while I was dealing with a mold allergy, as it triggered my symptoms. With that being said, it is not necessarily a trigger food for some. I would recommend avoiding it for a short period of time and then re-introducing it to see if it worsens your symptoms. Miso I believe is worse for some with histamine issues, since it is fermented. Hope that helps.
Rose, excellent post! So what CAN you eat? : ) I’m vegan, and I can already see how challenging this will be.
Interesting point re: Balsamic Vinegar by the way – Dr. John Christopher, master herbalist, now deceased, was very much against balsamic vinegar and specifically mentioned apple cider vinegar as being the recommended option.
Hi Garrin, it’s certainly tough handling a mold allergy and a vegan diet together. I think your best bet is a ton of vegetables, lower sugar fruits, some grains that are less likely to harbor mold (rice, buckwheat, quinoa), and possibly some non-fermented soy if your body can handle it. Best of luck in your health journey!
Thanks Rose! Appreciate you getting back with me.
Thank you for this post. I have a severe allergy to every mold I was tested for, and then experienced mold exposure that has left me struggling with food for almost two years now. If the safe food is aged even the tiniest bit I experience severe reactions that last days. From a comment above it seems you may have recovered from your mold allergy some. How long did it take to start feeling some relief?
Hi Tara, I’m sorry you are experiencing health issues. It took me a very long time to piece my issues together. Once I realized it was a mold-related issue, I was able to start healing rather quickly, but I did work with a licensed health practitioner, which helped to speed up the process. I would recommend finding a functional medicine doctor who specializes in mold and autoimmune diseases, they can best guide you through your particular issues. Best of luck!
Thank you for all of your work here. I have an 8 year old daughter struggling with her health and I suspect mold issues. Please can you tell me the name of the Dr you used? Thank you so much! I’m so glad you’re healing.
Hi Rachel, sorry to hear your daughter is struggling. I used a doctor in Wisconsin who specializes in Lyme and Mold. However, there are lots of practitioners who practice remotely. My favorite is Dr Cabral, you can work with one of his certified health practitioners online, and they will send test kits to your house so you don’t have to travel far! They have a mold protocol and a CBO protocol (for gut healing). I’m doing the CBO protocol myself right now. I recommend checking out his site, this podcast in particular is a great place to start: https://stephencabral.com/podcast/1048/
Hi Rose. I’m wondering if you think it might be possible to have mold symptoms /contamination in ones home, from the use of crushed walnuts for kitty liter? I’m wracking my brain trying to figure out what is causing a recurrence of my mold rash, and this idea just hit me. Thoughts?
Hi Karen, anything is possible. It really wouldn’t surprise me if the walnuts in the kitty litter are moldy. I would suggest trying a different kind, and see if that alleviates your symptoms at all. Other indoor things you might not think of include indoor plants, dirty air filters, aquariums, and inadequately vented clothes dryers. I hope you find some relief soon!
What are your thoughts about yogurt, since it is a fermented dairy product? I’ve had many issues from mold exposure over the years, and am just realizing my diet needs to be adjusted accordingly. I have been eating yogurt even w ith a sensitivity to casein, because probiotics in pill form don’t agree with me. But I am sensitive to vinegar, and other fermented foods. Thank you for your thoughts about yogurt.
Hi Lillie, I had a reaction to yogurt myself when I was dealing with mold exposure. However, I think it is an individual thing. I would recommend removing it from your diet for a month or so, and then reintroducing it, to see whether it is a problem for you.
So, any added probiotics is not helpful for a while? We are regularly taking probiotics and having kombucha. Just found out we have a mold issue today. Should we cut that out from our diet for now? Thank you!
Hi Karina, it’s recommended to cut out probiotics and kombucha for a period of time. I’m not a doctor though, but this recommendation came from mine.
OMG THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THIS!! I already knew I was allergic to mold but I was having a really difficult time figuring out what was going on with the food. It took me way too many years – 40! – to figure out that I had a problem with gluten and then some years later corn, but I couldn’t figure out why. And then I would react to other things like wine and a sonic vinegar but not apple cider vinegar. You have SOLVED it did me. Joining your group. Can’t thank you enough for doing this blog!!
Thank you so much!! I hope you continue to find healing! <3
Thank you so much for your post! Just finding out I have a mold allergy and trying to figure everything out! What face wash, body soap, and lotion do you use that doesn’t have all these hidden allergens in them?
Hi Missy, I use castile soap (Dr. Bronners) for washing my face and body. I don’t have dry skin so I don’t have a good lotion recommendation. Hope that helps!
Thanks so much! Appreciate the response! What about shampoo and conditioner?
I use an argan oil shampoo, but I’m actually looking for something a bit better. I’ll let you know if I find a good one!
Thanks! Appreciate it! After reading some more in your post, thought about toothpaste because you said it could contain corn. What do you recommend? Deodorant is also another thing I thought of and make up!
I am allergic to mold and have celiac disease. You did not mention yogurt. Isn’t that another product made from mold as well and should be avoided along with alcohol?
Hi Valerie, you are correct. Both yogurt and alcohol should be avoided.
Hi thanks so much for this article. I have heard varying feedback about whether or not to avoid beans as well. I’ve also heard folks say that if you must have them, get them canned since they are canned relatively quickly after harvesting and less likely to grow mold during the packaging and storing process….but there’s also the possibility of the plant itself molding, etc. etc. Do you know if there are reputable brands that are more reliable than others? I’d love to find a dried option for cost reasons…. but if it’s really a bad idea I could stick to canned… I’m hoping there’s some nuance and they aren’t unilaterally discouraged. Anyhow, thanks for considering my question if you have time, and thanks for your very helpful article!
Hi Parker, thanks for reaching out! I’ve heard mixed things about beans as well. I think canned is better than dried as well, because of the drying process, which can harbor mold if they aren’t dried quickly enough. However, if for financial reasons, you prefer dried, I would suggest trying some and seeing how you do. I do not know of any specific brands that are better than others, personally. You may also find that some types of beans are better than others. I usually do best with lentils and split peas, and can usually eat those dried just fine. I’ve heard this is true for others as well. Hope that helps!
Well this is all quite eye opening. I just got my food sensitivity results and noticed a theme. Sensitive to yeasts, brown rice, garlic and cashews. I am apparently highly sensitive to egg whites but I think that is a separate issue. I have known I have a mold problem now for a long time since where I live the mold count gets very high at times and makes me miserable. I thought my sensitivity test would show gluten and dairy but it doesn’t because it may just be the yeast in the bread and the mold in cheese.
Most dairy causes my chest congestion to really get going. Thank you for this info!
Hi Ann, that all sounds just like the issues I had. I hope you find relief from your symptoms.
Thanks for your information. It is all new to me. Just found out i have aflotoxins in my body. And do t know what is make me dizzy. I have to really watch my diet. I am also vegan. Very difficult to stay away from nuts and rice. Wow
I know the feeling, Irene. I hope you figure it out soon, I know how hard it can be. Let me know if you have any questions, I’m happy to chat, as I’ve gone through the same issues myself.
Read your information. Seems to me that you suffer from a Sulphites allergy. All those foods listed are high sulphite containing foods because of what is added to them for longer shelf life. I’m anaphylactic to sulphites and reacted out of the blue 10 years ago. Extremely hard to diagnose and each person reacts to a different accumulation level, different from other food allergies where just a speck can set off a reaction. Canada, Australia and New Zealand have a lot of documentation about sulphites. USA has zero documentation about this additive in foods. Look at the government health sites.
Hi Mickey, thanks for the info, I’m sure this can help a lot of people. I was living in a mold-infested house, so I know mold was triggering my issues. I had many health issues at the time though, so I wouldn’t be surprised if this was also part of my problem. I no longer react to most of these foods, so I don’t know if it was a true allergy. I’ll do some more research on this topic though, thanks for bringing it to my attention.
Thank you for this information. My question is what exactly do you eat? This diet eliminates a lot.
Hi Julie. When I was struggling with mold allergies, I ate a lot of grass-fed meat and fresh vegetables. I found that some legumes and grains were ok for me (split peas, rice). You have to be a bit creative with seasonings and fresh herbs to keep things interesting!
What kinds of fats do you eat? I’ve tried to eliminate a lot of foods in the past, and I’ve lost too much weight. Thanks in advance.
Hi there, I know the feeling. I eat lots of healthy olive oil and coconut oil. I don’t have issues with either one, and coconut oil has antimicrobial properties, so it can be helpful when dealing with allergies and pathogens such as mold.
Thank you so much for this article! I feel like I could have written it given how similar our histories are and our food sensitivities. Quick question, you mention mango as a particularly bad fruit both dried and fresh. I have a history of getting headaches from it when I ate too much of it which I never understood until now. Do you think frozen fruits run the same risk or have you had experience with it? I ask because I just did a 30 day detox that allowed mango so I had been eating it as a treat but it was frozen. I did not get headaches from it which I was happy about of course! Thanks again for the article!
Hi Ellen, sorry to hear you are struggling with the same issues. I do believe frozen fruit is better. It is picked at peak ripeness and frozen right away, so the risks of mold are reduced. I’ve had better experience with frozen fruit myself as well. Keep up the good work and happy healing!
Interesting read. I know I am allergic to mould and also have a birch tree pollen allergy. Histamine allergy? Reading up on all the food, I shouldn’t eat, really depresses me. I don’t really know what to eat anymore. I am sure I will figure it out sooner or later. Anyway, just wanted to say thanks for your article.
Hi Petra, I know the feeling. I was there for a long time myself. Please know that it is not permanent, you will make it through. I don’t have nearly as many issues anymore, healing is possible but it does take some time. Let me know if you would like more support, I am happy to provide some recommendations to help you out.
Hi Deanna, Great write up!
It all sounds very similar to my own experiences and dietary challenges over the last ~5 or so years.
Have you heard of or looked into FMT (Fecal Matter Transplant)? I’ve known of a few cases of individuals who were able to cure chronic digestive problems, almost overnight, after undergoing an FMT. I live in Canada where this is all very experimental still but it seems other countries have been practising FMT for years, and apparently in Australia Dietitians can even prescribe dried FM capsules which seem to have the same beneficial effect in transferring good bacteria from donors with healthy guts.
Once we get past all these Covid restrictions, I might undergo the procedure myself if my research on the topic continues to be positive.
Any feedback on this would be greatly appreciated.
Hi Juan! I have heard of FMT, and I have heard that it is very successful for some people, as you mentioned. The importance of gut health cannot be overstated, and I believe many peoples’ guts have been wrecked by antibiotics, bad diet, stress, etc. I have not considered doing FMT personally, as I was able to significantly reduce my health issues through dietary changes, supplements and other means with the help of a functional medicine doctor. I do wish you all the best with the procedure if you pursue it!
It is my understanding that in the US FMT is used only on patients with a chronic Clostridium difficile infection.
Thank you for this post. It was very helpful to read through. My daughter suffered with severe eczema for years (from baby to 5) while we lived in the midwest/south (Indiana, Michigan, Tennessee) and we did not know what was going on. Finally an allergist took the time with us and recommended environmental allergy testing. Turns out she’s severely allergic to aspergillus mold. Her body was covered with sores and blisters. We discovered that the midwest, especially Indiana, harbored aspergillus mold due to the amount of corn fields (aspergillus thrives on decaying crops, especially corn). We took an experimental trip to the west coast of Florida, and her skin cleared within weeks. We moved to Florida and she’s able to live a normal life with minimal skin issues. Hope this can be of help to someone else. Mold allergies are something that seems to be unknown to most doctors and I believe a lot of people are suffering without answers.
Hi Brittani. Thank you so much for reaching out. That is really fascinating. I used to live in Indiana and was very sick during that time, so it makes a lot of sense. I’m so happy to hear that your daughter is doing much better and is able to live a normal life. That is fantastic!
Hi, please can you provide a reference for the info on frsh mango harboring mold? I’m having trouble finding anything more about that. Thank you!
Hi Lydia. Fresh mango is vulnerable to something called powdery mildew, along with some other fruits. It can usually be washed off, but if any is left behind, it can cause issues if you’re mold intolerant. If you love fresh mango, I recommend taking a break for a few weeks and then reintroducing it to see how you do.