Mycotoxic Foods – Top Ten
From: The Top-10 MYCO-Toxic Foods
are fungal toxins.
Dr. Dave Holland
is the co-author, with Doug Kaufmann, of the best-selling book The Fungus Link, and the
new book, The Fungus Link, Volume 2.
In these books, and in their other books (Infectious Diabetes, and The Germ that Causes Cancer)
they discuss the ravages that yeast, fungi and their mycotoxins (fungal toxins)
can cause us when we are exposed to them. Health problems ranging from cancer
to heart disease to asthma, multiple sclerosis, and diabetes may all be related
a wide range of health problems in humans when we are exposed to small amounts
over an extended period of time, and can even be lethal if taken in large
quantities over a short period of time.
Given the large number of diseases linked to mycotoxins* (see Dr. Holland's list at the end of the article) and
our tendency to eat a large amount of grains in our typical American diet, this
is a very concerning problem. As Dr. Holland said, "Grains are sources of
carbohydrates, or sugars, and as such, they risk contamination by certain
fungi. These fungi produce secondary metabolites, or mycotoxins."
Dr. Holland has
put together a list of the top-10 mycotoxic foods.
You'll notice as you browse through the list that it mentions lots of grains
(wheat, barley, rye, etc.). You're probably familiar with some of the
dangers of grains mentioned on this site, and
now you have one more reason not to eat them--they are commonly contaminated with
notice that peanuts are on the list. Peanuts are not only
commonly contaminated with aflatoxin, a carcinogenic mold, but they will also distort your omega-3:6
ratio. A much better choice if you want to eat nuts are walnuts, as they will give you some
One food that is
not mentioned on the list is coconut oil. I want to point out that, while
coconut oil is an incredible food in terms of nutrition and taste,
many coconut oils contain mycotoxins.
This is because
they are commonly made with copras, or dried
coconuts, which are often contaminated with mycotoxins. So in order to fully
enjoy the benefits of this coconut oil, you will want to be sure that you find
a company that uses only fresh coconuts to make their oil, like the
virgin coconut oil on this site. With that, here's the top-10 list of mycotoxic foods that you will want to avoid.
A. Holland, M.D.
Alcohol is the mycotoxin of the Saccharomyces yeast--brewer's yeast. Other mycotoxins
besides alcohol can also be introduced into these beverages through the use of mold-contaminated grains and fruits. Producers often use
grains that are too contaminated with fungi and mycotoxins to be used for table
foods, so the risk is higher that you are consuming more than just alcohol in
your beverage (Council for Agricultural Science and technology. Mycotoxins:
Economic and Health Risks. Task Force Report Number 116. CAST. Ames, IA. Nov 1989). Before
you drink for the health of your heart, consider the other possible risks of
drinking. There are safer ways of consuming antioxidants.
Corn is "universally contaminated" with fumonisin
and other fungal toxins such as aflatoxin, zearalenone and ochratoxin
(Council for Agricultural Science and Technology. Mycotoxins: Risks in Plant,
Animal and Human Systems. Task Force Report No. 139. Ames, IA. Jan 2003). Fumonisin and aflatoxin are known
for their cancer-causing effects, while zearalenone
and ochratoxin cause estrogenic and kidney-related
problems, respectively. Just as corn is universally contaminated with
mycotoxins, our food supply seems to be universally contaminated with corn--it's
everywhere! A typical chicken nugget at a fast food restaurant consists of a
nugget of corn-fed chicken that is covered by a corn-based batter that is
sweetened with corn syrup!
Not only is wheat often contaminated with mycotoxins, but so are the
products made from wheat, like breads, cereals, pasta, etc. Pasta may be the
least-"offensive" form of grains since certain water-soluble
mycotoxins, such as deoxynivalenol (vomitoxin), are partially removed and discarded when you
toss out the boiling water that you cooked the pasta in. Unfortunately, traces
of the more harmful, heat-stable and fat-soluble mycotoxins, such as aflatoxin, remain in the grain. Regarding breads--it
probably doesn't matter if it's organic, inorganic, sprouted, blessed or
not--if it came from a grain that has been stored for months in a silo, it
stands the chance of being contaminated with fungi and mycotoxins.
Similar to other grains that can be damaged by drought, floods and
harvesting and storage processes, barley is equally susceptible to
contamination by mycotoxin-producing fungi. Barley is
used in the production of various cereals and alcoholic beverages.
Sugar (sugar cane and sugar beets)
Not only are sugar cane and sugar beets often contaminated with fungi and
their associated fungi, but they, like the other grains, fuel the growth of
fungi. Fungi need carbohydrates--sugars--to thrive.
Sorghum is used in a variety of grain-based products intended for both
humans and animals. It is also used in the production of alcoholic beverages.
A 1993 study demonstrated 24 different types of fungi that colonized the
inside of the peanuts used in the report (Costantini,
A. Etiology and Prevention of Atherosclerosis. Fungalbionics Series.1998/99).
And this was after the exterior of the peanut was sterilized! So, when you
choose to eat peanuts, not only are you potentially eating these molds, but
also their mycotoxins. Incidentally, in the same study the examiners found 23
different fungi on the inside of corn kernels. That said,
if you choose to plant your own garden in an attempt to avoid mycotoxin contamination of corn or peanuts, it does you no
good if the seed (kernel) used to plant your garden is already riddled with mold.
The same goes for rye as for wheat and other grains. In addition, when we
use wheat and rye to make bread, we add two other products that compound our
fungal concerns: sugar and yeast!
Cottonseed is typically found in the oil form (cottonseed oil), but is
also used in the grain form for many animal foods. Many studies show that
cottonseed is highly and often contaminated with mycotoxins.
Here's a hint: if you see mold growing
throughout your cheese, no matter what you paid for it, there's a pretty good
chance that there's a mycotoxin not far from the mold. It is estimated that each fungus on Earth produces up
to three different mycotoxins. The total number of mycotoxins
known to date numbers in the thousands.
On the other hand, some cheeses, such as Gouda cheese, are made
with yogurt-type cultures, like Lactobacillus, and not fungi (Costantini, 1998/99). These cheeses are a much healthier
alternative, fungally speaking.
Naturally, with this list coming from a group that opposes eating food
that is merely contaminated with fungi, we'd certainly oppose eating the fungus
itself! That would include common table mushrooms and so-called myco-protein food products.
Other foods that
could potentially make our list are rice, oats and beans,
given that these too are sources of carbohydrates. And occasionally food
inspectors will come across a batch of mold-contaminated
rice or oats. However, all other things being equal, these crops are generally
more resistant to fungal contamination (CAST 1989).