How mold sickness can be improved with diet changes

By: Lee Ann Billings

Top 10 foods with mycotoxins

Are mold and mycotoxins in the 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 the 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, such as grains and nuts. During our recovery, we avoided these mycotoxic foods and started making lists of other foods that we also found particularly problematic. With a bit of research, we found that they also were prone to containing 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 health foods 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. We included Holland’s and Kaufmann’s original list of mycotoxin-containing foods as well as the additional foods we found high in mycotoxins. We later appeared on Doug Kaufmann’s national health TV show Know The Cause.

EXCELLENT BOOK! Recommended highly! Doug Kaufmann, Know The Cause

Foods high in mycotoxins

The top ten mycotoxic foods compiled by David Holland, MD, and Doug Kaufmann are as follows:

  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


Foods prone to mycotoxin contamination

Knowing which foods may contain higher levels of mold and mycotoxins can aid in the trial-and-error phase of figuring out which foods are tolerable and which foods may be need to be avoided while recovering from a mold-related illness.     

  • coffee beans
  • dried fruits
  • Brazil nuts

Mycotoxin testing not mandatory in United States   

Food in the United States can contain as much or more mold toxicity than foods in third world countries. If you are battling a mold illness, check with your doctor about a low mold diet (e.g., a free grains diet) and ways to reduce mycotoxin and mold exposure in your food. Some functional medicine doctors recommend a diet free of processed sugar to maximize nutrition, detox the body, and boost the immune system.

Mold growth can occur at various stages, starting when plants are growing in the field, storage, and manufacturing processes. Just because a processed food, e.g., rice, grains, flour, etc., doesn’t look moldy, does not mean that it does not contain high levels of mycotoxins (mold poisons). 

For more information

Our health can be affected much more than we may want to realize by what we put in our mouths, but figuring out which foods are health-supporting for a mold-sensitive person is not easy when many whole foods can contain varying levels of mycotoxins.

For additional ways that we navigated the façade of healthy foods, check Section II in our book, MOLD: The War Within. Let me know what works for you!

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