Have you been feeling ‘mouldy’ lately? Maybe respiratory issues, weirds niggles affecting different systems of the body at the same time? More histamine-affected or candida-affected than you’d like to be?
Did you know that the foods you’re eating could be playing into it all? Moulds and yeasts are fungal microorganisms that can not only take up residence in your home, they can also inhibit your body. As Dr Jill Cridsta says, you want to stop yourself from being compostable when it comes to fungi and the people that are most at risk of being affected by mould from food sources or in buildings, are those with already compromised immune systems from chronic stress, autoimmune conditions or nutrient deficiencies making it easier for opportunistic fungi, moulds and yeasts to grow.
Do you need to freak out if you see a bit of green mould on your lemons in the fruit bowl? Nope. Not all mould is ‘out to get you and make you sick’ and it’s easy to become afraid of it all, but remember, we live with all sorts of different types of fungi in our world, and what we DO need to focus on is ensuring we avoid hidden sources that might contribute to symptoms.
Am I mould affected?
The answer is, you could be. There is genetics at play, current health status, current home-health status and other factors but also, there are lots of healthy people who want to simply raise their own awareness of mould for it to NOT be an issue down the track.
I’ve got an extensive resource I’ve put together for you over in this blog post round-up “So You Think You’ve Got Mould”. Unfortunately, mold can not only exacerbate respiratory symptoms and allergies, but it can inflame more systemically as I know only too well from how sick it made me living in a water-0damaged building for 6 years without knowing. What is now known as biotoxin illness or CIRS (chronic inflammatory response syndrome) is often overlooked and only diagnosed after every avenue has been exhausted and a person is forced to think way outside the box with holistic health practitioners who are often better placed to discuss the impact of the environment on ones’ health through Health Science degrees or Naturopathic medical degrees. Excessive exposure to mold can lead to disease in the body, chronic inflammation affecting multiple systems in the body and collection of seemingly unlinked symptoms if being seen by a conventional doctor or specialist.
If you want to dive into inflammation reduction while or after being mold-affected, my Inflammation Ninja On Demand eCourse has helped many with the menu plans, histamine reduction, mast-cell calming, testing for quality investigations and more, and the practitioner interviews are truly worth their weight in gold.
Something everyone can do TODAY, mold-affected or not, is to avoid mould-contaminated foods, ‘naturally mouldy’ foods and foods that feed mould. The theory goes, if mould or yeast within the body is starved of what it needs to survive then it will stop growing and stop kick-starting the inflammation cascade.
**NB: Alongside diet, if you are mold-affected, further detoxification and resilience-rebuilding with the support of a qualified mold-aware practitioner is essential in managing mould illness safely.
10 Mouldy Foods to reduce or avoid, to notice if it improves your health. Note: Many of these are healthy foods, but sometimes in our lives our food mix needs to change to help us with what we’re working on in that moment to bring the body back to balance.
This list isn’t about other foods that can exacerbate symptoms such as high-histamine foods (long-cooked broths/stocks, leftovers etc), but more about foods that can have mould present in them due to their growing or processing. If you’ve just not been feeling yourself, have a go and remove a few, change the coffee you’re buying or reduce the amount and see if it positively impacts you. I’d love to hear about your experience.
1. Dairy products
I adore cheese. I’m grateful to have zero intolerance or allergy issues with cheese and even at my sickest with CIRS, I found I could eat the odd serving of fresh goat’s cheese, sour cream or cottage cheese. Now, I’m back to enjoying all cheeses, from quality organic or regenerative sources. Some people have to avoid cheese due to a lack of lactase, the enzyme to break dairy foods down; others find it gives them excess mucus and a stuffy nose. With mold-related issues, people find it can cause a mast-cell reaction like palpitations, anxiety or hives/itching. You know you, so play it by ear and above all, tune in. Dairy can be incredibly nourishing and healthy, so it’s not about demonising foods, but just learning what works best for us right now. So if you’re up for reducing fermented dairy to have a play and experiment for your health, then it includes cheese of all kinds – soft and hard cheeses, rinds and no rinds, blue/vein cheese, cottage cheese, sour cream, sour milk, buttermilk, and yoghurts (as an aside coconut yoghurt should also be avoided due to its fermented properties – more on this below).
2. Mushrooms and other fungi (including truffles)
This one is pretty self-explanatory. Mushrooms are a type of fungi and fungi love other fungi. Consuming these may mean you’re inadvertently encouraging the proliferation of fungi growing in the body. Not to mention, mould loves damp, moist environments, commonly found where mushrooms grow, so if you think about the Chinese Medicine principles of giving the body the opposite of what it needs to rebalance itself, then if you have excess fungi, including candida, avoiding moist foods/foods from damp growing areas can be great, incorporating hot, dry foods instead like spices/ginger. Please keep in mind mushies are a wonderful food, but for mould avoidance, it’s best to err on the side of caution and see what eliminating them does for you, for now.
3. Alcohol in all forms either for the fermented factor (wine/beer/cider) for the sugar factor (feeds fungi) or for the histamine factor (all alcohol to varying degrees)
This includes all yeasted beers, ciders, wine, dark malty spirits, champagne and clear spirits. Yeasts and mould share similar molecular properties, making them cause similar inflammatory flare-ups in the body. Alcohol is also incredibly high in histamine, which when consumed in someone with raised inflammatory cytokines (due to mould or other illness), can really worsen your symptoms. If you are going to go for a drink and water just won’t cut it, opt for a gin or vodka and soda. The digestive properties of the gin may at least slightly offset the fermentation aspect. Go very slow. One drink may be ok, but two may very well wreak havoc as we have to also remember that alcohol is a toxin and can inflame as a result.
4. Fermented, pickled foods + cured foods
Yep, those lovely healthy foods teeming with good bugs and supercharged vitamin C, like sauerkraut, kombucha, kefir, beet kvass, kimchi, vinegar and vinegar-containing foods (eg mayonnaise, salad dressings, chilli sauces), pickled beets, relishes, green olives, mustard, salami and other cured meats can cause inflammation and histamine issues in a mouldy person or someone with MCAS (mast cell activation syndrome – which can be caused by, you guessed it, mould exposure! You might want this show on the podcast to clue into that whole area with PhD Beth O’Hara). Fermented foods are fantastic – especially wild fermented – provided this has been done in a non-moldy environment – or ones fermented with histamine degrading cultures, however, as an initial elimination to bring inflammation and histamine levels down, it’s best to cut for a while, focus on super fresh whole foods, and work with a practitioner on when you can bring them back and how. I did 6 months on an ultra-low histamine diet and it truly helped calm the farm when inflammation was at its worst after 6 constant years of mould exposure.
5. Sugar (even the ‘healthy’ types)
In the outside world, water and dust and mould’s favourite food sources. In our inner world? Sugars! While we’re not at all opposed to a little sweetness or sugar in our cooking here at the Low Tox Life, when it comes to mould and yeast, if you’ve got food containing sugar, it’s mould’s best foodie friend. So, avoid white and brown sugars, or healthier choices, such as coconut sugar, dates, maple syrup, honey, rice malt syrup, molasses and even chemically derived sweeteners like aspartame and Splenda. In general, avoid high fructose fruits as well as maltose, glucose, mannitol, and sorbitol and go easy on high-fructose fruit like bananas, pears, mangoes and apples as well.
Amy-what now!? Amylose is the name of a particular type of compound classified as a polysaccharide. Polysaccharides are strings of carbohydrate molecules strung together. If you’re taking natural binders like charcoal or modified citrus pectin, or Cholestyramine (also known as ‘CSM’, a medication primarily prescribed to lower cholesterol, but is also effectively used to bind to toxins eg mould, in the body and excrete them) then steer clear of amylose and everything on this food list for a good couple of weeks, or as directed by your mold-literate practitioner, to starve the mould of all food sources. If you continue to eat amylose-containing foods (wheat rye, barley, rice, potatoes, bananas, or root vegetables) the binders and CSM medication binder will be less effective. Again this is phasal… If you’re healed from mould and not living 0r working somewhere you’re exposed, you will be able to bring these back under practitioner guidance when the time is right. For me, it always seems to come down to “leafy greens, okra and zucchini as your most prominent veg when mould-affected – sauteed, raw, in a soup… and then slowly bringing a wider range of plant foods back into the mix.
7. Fruit juices
Ok this isn’t just phasal. Fruit juices aren’t usually great for anyone as an everyday food, fresh-squeezed or otherwise, as the fibre has been stripped from them and it can cause crash-and-burn glucose spikes and troughs. It’s not just the extremely high levels of sugar that we need to be concerned about here that can feed moulds. Studies show that all packaged fruit juices also run the risk of containing moulds. Ewww! As if pasteurisation and storage in plastic or plastic lined cartons wasn’t bad enough, right?
8. Soured bread
Bread will already contain the amylose we talked about further up the list, but soured bread is a definite temporary no if in a histamine/mould crisis. This includes sourdough, bread, buns, rolls, pumpernickel and other baked foods made with large amounts of yeast. Mould colonies often grow on the surface of moist foods, such as bread. Yeast is also a tiny single-celled fungi linked to the same biological group as mould and mushrooms so for the purpose of reducing food-caused inflammation and mould-feeding for a bit – best to avoid and see how it impacts you.
9. Dried fruits, tree nuts and coffee (some coffee though, don’t panic!)
Ok, you hate me now right? Hehe. I mentioned the C word!
Studies have found evidence that dried fruits such as apricots, dates, prunes, figs, and raisins contain small amounts of mould and yeasts. Similarly, tree nuts like walnuts and pine nuts also display evidence of mould.
Coffee also has the ability to grow mould if left in the right conditions. It has been well-established in various studies that mycotoxins are present in green and roasted coffee beans across global production. When purchasing coffee, look for ‘myotoxin free’ or aim to get a super-high quality coffee labelled with these properties: third wave/speciality grade, Arabica (which is always specialty grade), single origins (not blends), washed / wet processed and dark roast.
If you’re in Australia, a great mould-free brand is:
Republica Coffee available at Woolworths or online – their instant decaf is great too for the non-caffeine drinkers.
If you’re overseas you can also try:
Bulletproof Coffee’s Original Blend and Purity Coffee. Founder of Bulletproof Dave Asprey has a mouldy story himself and is passionate about producing mould free products, which means you can keep your coffee if you love it. I love their decaf!
10. Opened tinned foods, jams, sauces, spreads
This includes half-used tomato pastes, diced tomatoes, passatas, sauces, tinned fruits, sour cream, condiments, tinned soups. Sadly these foods are prone to mould as opportunistic bacteria love to grow on wet surfaces. The best thing you can do is try to freeze any half-used sauces in large ice cube trays and defrost them as needed. When buying condiments like sour cream, opt for the smallest option and aim to use it all within a day or two.
Oh and peanuts or peanut butter – ok that’s 11! This again, like coffee, is brand-dependent. The Ceres Organic peanut butter is excellent and fresh smelling. The Woolworths macro literally smells mouldy. Peanuts can often sit, wet, for a time during processing so if you find you don’t feel great after peanut butter, maybe try a different brand before deciding to ditch altogether!
What can I eat!?
I know, you’re probably at the end of this post thinking ‘geez, can I eat anything?!’. Of course, you can. And – remember, it’s not forever, it’s an experiment to see if you start the fungi in your body of the food they like, could it bring you back to balance and feeling great? Worth a shot for a couple of weeks, right?
If you’re looking for some general guidelines to kick you off, here’s what to go for:
A day-overview example without needing ‘recipes’
- Breakky can be a couple of eggs with sauteed zucchini and spinach in butter
- Lunch can be a chicken thigh or two, diced sauteed onion, 1/4 cup of broth and 1 tsp mustard with fresh parsley for a delicious sauce, with veggies.
- Dinner could be onions and beef sauteed with taco spices in lettuce cups with chopped coriander and avocado
- Choose a fresh broad array leafy greens, washed, thoroughly dried and stored in the fridge.
- Eat plenty of detoxifying herbs like coriander, parsley, nettle, dandelion and mint.
- Choose pasture-raised and organic meat and poultry and eat as fresh as possible.
- Go fo ‘above ground’ vegetables (eg greens, zucchini, kale, rocket, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cucumber, asparagus) as these veggies are less likely to be contaminated with mould, and the cruciferous veggies are also great detoxification helpers!
- Eat low-fructose fruits like berries and kiwi fruit as your main fruit go-to’s, and reduce amounts of high-fructose fruits to half servings when you are enjoying them.
- Make dressings with citrus fruits instead of vinegar.
- Flavour foods with short-cook broths so that they’re low-histamine, and add mustard, herbs and spices for flavouring.
Still not convinced? Here are a few of my mould-friendly recipes to help get you started:
If mould illness or a broader inflammation concern is a real issue for you or you’d love to learn more about this condition then definitely have a read of my journey which was quite a doozy or jump over to our Inflammation Ninja eCourse information page where you can learn what this course can do for you and how you can kick your mouldy symptoms to the curb and start healing.
Low Tox. Healthy You. Happy Planet.