The Top-10 MYCO-Toxic Foods
DR. MERCOLA'S COMMENT: 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 Vol. 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 to mycotoxins.
Mycotoxins cause 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
You'll also 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 beneficial
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.
With that, here's the top-10 list of mycotoxic foods
that you will want to avoid.
By David A. Holland, M.D.
1. Alcoholic beverages
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
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
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.
5. Sugar (sugar cane and
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.
10. Hard Cheeses
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,
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).
*Diseases caused by fungi and their mycotoxins (Costantini,
A. et al. The Garden of Eden Longevity Diet. Fungalbionics Series. 1998):
Familial Mediterranean Fever
Hyperlipidemia (high lipids)
Inflammatory bowel disease
Nephritis (kidney inflammation)
Healthy News You Can Use, 5th November 2005, issue