The Issue With Mold Part II

The Issue With Mold Part II

The Issue With Mold Part II

In Part I of this mold series, we discussed some of the issues with mold illness and how to identify a potential mold problem in your home. In Part ll, we will discuss the health implications of mold illness and where it might show up in our food sources.

Mold in the environment can range from being helpful to harmful. This is true in the food world as well. Mold can help to create an array of food products like aged cheeses and fermented foods like buttermilk and yogurt. Mold is also a sign that a food is past its prime. Because mold is nature’s recycler, it will cause food to break down and decay, causing spoilage. Bread, strawberries, tomatoes, and citrus fruits are some of the many foods that are more prone to mold growth. Though this type of mold is typically harmless, the USDA Food Safety and Inspection recommends discarding foods with visible signs of mold growth.

There are hundreds of thousands of different types of mold, of which the vast majority are harmless. The danger from mold mostly occurs with mycotoxins. Mycotoxins are naturally occurring toxins that are produced by certain molds. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations estimates that as many as 25% of the world’s crops are affected by mold and mycotoxins. These mycotoxins are associated with molds that grow on specific foods like dried fruits, nuts, grains and coffee. These molds can grow either before or after harvest, while the food is being stored or even after the food has been packaged and is on the shelf. Mold creates multicellular “arms”, or “roots”, called hypha that spread deeply into organic matter, which makes them difficult to eradicate. The most commonly seen mycotoxins in food are aflatoxin, ochratoxin, trichothecene, and zearalenone.

If you are experiencing symptoms of mold illness, like cognitive impairment, poor word finding, confusion, poor concentration, sensitivities to foods and to the environment, a metallic taste in your mouth or excessive thirst, try a mold-free diet and see if it makes you feel any better. Eating mold-free includes avoiding foods that might ‘feed’ the mold like sugar and processed foods (think white bread and packaged foods) as well as the foods that might contain mold and mycotoxins as those listed below:

MOLDS and MYCOTOXINS are found of these foods:

  • Grains- Grains can be a significant source of mycotoxins. The grains to avoid include: corn, wheat, rice and oats. These grains tend to have the very toxic and estrogenic mycotoxin zearalenone. For a mold-free diet it is best to go grain-free.
  • Dried Fruit- dried fruit can be a problem when it comes to mold. It is generally best to avoid them on a mold-free diet.
  • Coffee- Coffee is prone to mold growth. This is due to the fact that coffee is grown in warm, moist environments. Also, when the green coffee beans are harvested, if they are not properly dried, they are susceptible to growing the mold that produces - Ochtratoxin A. The best way to avoid consuming mold in your coffee is to purchase guaranteed mold-free coffee. The two most well-known brands for this are Bulletproof and Kion. Check your favorite coffee and see if it has a mold-free guarantee. If not, consider switching to one that does.
  • Nuts and Seeds- Raw nuts are delicious, and good for you in many ways, but they are susceptible to mold. The good news is that these good-for-you foods can stay in your diet- with a minor adjustment. They need to be soaked and dehydrated to ensure they are free from mold and mycotoxins. Though toasting them will kill the mold, it may not eliminate the mycotoxins. Soak the nuts/seeds for about 2 hours. Dump the water they were soaked in and rinse with fresh water. To dehydrate the nuts, spread them out on a baking sheet and cook at @120 degrees for 8-10 hours. You can do this in bulk and then refrigerate. The added benefit here is that soaking the nuts also gets rid of phytic acid, which makes them easier to digest. Pre-roasted nuts are not a great solution here as they are roasted at a very high temperature which causes the oils in the nuts to burn.

The goal with a mold-free diet is to eat mostly fresh fruits, fresh vegetables and lean meats. Stay grain-free, avoid aged cheese, cured meats like salami, dried fruit and fermented foods like yogurt and sauerkraut. Ensure your coffee is mold-free and take care to rinse and then dehydrate and nuts or seeds. If you feel significantly better on this diet, it might be a sign that mold is an issue for you.

Watch out for our Mold Part III - How to test and treat mold issues!

This blog is a collaboration by

Dr. Morrison and Tapp Francke.