From the authors of MOLD: The War Within

Top 10 Foods with Mycotoxins

08 Nov Top 10 Foods with Mycotoxins

Is Mold in Food You Eat?

Identifying and avoiding foods that are prone to high levels of mycotoxins—aka mold poisons—can be especially health-promoting for mold-sensitive people. As authors of the best-selling book, MOLD: The War Within, we want to share how food choices can hold back healing and how progress in recovery can be made by altering the diet. Of course, be sure to check with your treating physician before making any changes to your diet.

When we were ill from mold and mycotoxin exposures after Hurricane Katrina, we were unable to eat most foods. We became painfully aware of just how many foods contained traces or even significant amounts of mold and mycotoxins as we had to restrict our diet more and more each day in order to try to survive.

Then we came across a list of top ten mycotoxin-containing foods compiled by David A. Holland, MD, and Doug Kaufmann that helped us zero in on some of the most problematic mycotoxin-containing foods. During our recovery, we avoided these mycotoxic foods and started making lists of other foods we found particularly problematic for us. They were found to also contain high levels of mycotoxins.

Reduce Mycotoxins in Food

Altering our diet to avoid mycotoxin-laden foods was a relatively easy and inexpensive change for us to implement. All it took was a little bit of self-discipline and changing our mindset about what constituted “healthy” food. Whole foods that would normally be deemed healthy or even a health food, became banned from our diet.

Removing mycotoxins from our diet as much as possible was such an important part of our recovery that we detailed our diet changes in our book, MOLD: The War Within, and included the first list we found of mycotoxin-containing foods along with our own lists of foods high in mycotoxins. Leading health advocate Dr. Joseph Mercola later referenced our first-hand research and the original mycotoxin food list in his article, “How to Recover from Toxic Mold Exposure.”

Dr. Mercola Recommends Resource

One excellent resource is the book MOLD: The War Within by Kurt and Lee Ann Billings. The Billings learned the hard way about the damaging health effects of mold—and the level of ignorance about mold’s effects by the medical profession as a whole.

Living in a home in the outer impact zone of Hurricane Katrina, the Billings family suffered a progressive array of symptoms for which their physicians had no solution. They later discovered their illness was due to mold infestation in their home. What started as tightness and burning in their chests and itchy eyes soon progressed into severely diminished lung capacity, thyroid malfunction, and numerous other symptoms that did not resolve, despite moving out of their home.

After extensive research and eventually recovering their health, they wrote the book MOLD: The War Within in hopes of educating a poorly informed and disadvantaged public about Mixed Mold Toxicosis. Many of the suggestions I’ll be making come as a direct result of the diligent footwork they have been kind enough to share in the form of a book, for which we can all be grateful.

Article Excerpt from Dr. Mercola

People who have been exposed to toxic mold can become “sensitized” in such a way that they react to a variety of different agents in their food and environment as if they are allergic to them. It may take only a very minute exposure to trigger a major recurrence of symptoms. So you must take steps to make your environment as mold-free as humanly possible—so that you’re not breathing fungi or eating fungi.

There are several types of food that should be avoided if you are mold-sensitive because they are subject to mold contamination. In their book, the Billings include a list of the top-ten mycotoxic foods, compiled by David A. Holland, MD, and Doug Kaufmann, which I’m including for you below. As you can see, many of those top-ten foods are grains.

  1. Alcoholic beverages: Alcohol is the mycotoxin of Saccharomyces yeast (brewer’s yeast), and often contains other mycotoxins from mold-containing fruits and grains contaminated with a variety of fungal toxins
  2. Wheat and all wheat products
  3. Rye
  4. Peanuts: Often contaminated with dozens of mold types, one of which is cancer-causing aflatoxin
  5. Cottonseed and cottonseed oil
  6. Corn: Universally
  7. Barley
  8. Sorghum: Used in a variety of grain products and alcoholic beverages
  9. Sugar from sugar cane and sugar beets
  10. Hard cheeses

Regarding peanuts, a 1993 study reportedly identified 24 different types of fungi just on the outside of the peanuts in their sample—and these peanuts had already been sterilized. One of the mycotoxins frequently found on peanuts is aflatoxin, which is a known human carcinogen. In terms of hard cheeses, cheeses like Gouda are made with yogurt-type cultures such as lactobacillus, rather than fungi, so these are a better alternative.

There are often fungal components used in food manufacturing that are not necessarily listed on the label. Take soy sauce, for example. Authentic soy sauce is fermented by a fungus, which is what gives soy sauce its distinctive flavor. If your immune system is overly reactive and sensitized, something like this can trigger a recurrence of illness as your body interprets it as a foreign invader, and you jump back into the symptom-producing antigen-antibody cycle.

The Billings wrote that they also reacted adversely to vinegar, beans, and canned tomato products.

Basically, the closer you stick to a basic diet of fresh organic vegetables, lean organic meats, and fresh, pure water while recovering, the less risk you’ll have of additional mold exposure and reactions. It’s wise to avoid eating out because you just can’t control what is put into your food unless you prepare it yourself. You have to go beyond being a good label reader and become a “food detective.”

You may want to do some vegetable juicing to accelerate your healing. Juicing helps alkalize your body, and for the most part, fungi can’t grow in an alkaline environment. Juices assimilate very quickly into your system with very little effort or energy by your digestive tract—like an intravenous infusion of whole-food nutrition! Juices should be consumed immediately after being juiced (within 15 minutes is best) as the enzymes degrade rapidly thereafter.

For More Information

Much of our health is determined by what we put in our mouths but figuring out which foods are health-supporting for a mold-sensitive person is not that easy when many whole foods can be loaded with mycotoxins. For additional ways in which we navigated this façade of healthy foods, check Section II in our book, MOLD: The War Within. Let us know what works for you!

© 2023 Lee Ann Billings