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!