All You Need To Know About the Low Mold Diet

All You Need To Know About the Low Mold Diet

Sep 01, 2023

Imagine waking up each day feeling tired, achy, and foggy-brained. You go about your routine, wondering why you never seem to shake off that perpetual fatigue and discomfort.

Little do you know, your symptoms might be tied to an insidious culprit – mold toxicity. Many individuals unknowingly live with mold-related health issues, attributing their discomfort to other causes.

 So was I!

A few years ago, I started to experience symptoms without any apparent cause. I was constantly nauseous, felt abdominal pain, and could barely eat. Overnight, I also developed severe allergic reactions to most foods and found myself throwing up more than a few times a day.

Over the next few weeks, I lost a lot of weight and almost all of my energy, too. I was constantly tired and could barely climb a few stairs before feeling out of breath.

Thanks to my training as a functional medicine doctor, I was able to connect the dots and diagnose my condition. We discovered that my office space was infected with toxic mold that I was inadvertently being exposed to.

Over a short period of time, I developed mast cell activation syndrome and mold toxicity. Immediately, I vacated my building and began my journey of healing.

Wondering if your space also may have mold? Here’s a checklist to spot for hidden mold.

Whether you have mold growing in your walls or on your store-bought pantry items, the effects of mold can be devastating to your health. Some foods can naturally grow mold in damp conditions, and once ingested these foods can wreak havoc on our intestinal villi. It can even upset your gut microbiome and cause hormonal imbalances in the long run.

Here’s where a low mold diet comes in handy.

This diet is a straightforward guide to help you steer away from mold-encouraging foods such as sugary and processed items. Instead, the diet guides you towards whole and fresh foods that boost recovery and minimize the effects of your symptoms.

I personally have used this low mold diet during my own journey of recovering from mold sickness, and regularly prescribe it to patients in my Houston functional medicine clinic.

Before we get into learning more about the low mold diet, let’s figure out why mold sickness is a problem that deserves more attention.

What is Mold Toxicity and How Does it Affect Us?

Mold toxicity, also known as mycotoxin illness, is a condition caused by exposure to mold and its toxic byproducts. Invisible mold spores can infiltrate our living spaces and trigger a range of health issues. According to a study published in Environmental Health Perspectives, mold exposure has been linked to symptoms such as chronic fatigue, brain fog, respiratory problems, and even skin irritation. These issues can significantly derail daily life and productivity, making it essential to address the root cause.

One of the challenges with mold toxicity is its ability to masquerade as other health problems. I regularly see patients at my functional medicine clinic seeking medical attention for these symptoms, without realizing that mold exposure might be the underlying trigger.

Exploring the Low Mold Diet

The low mold diet is a strategic approach to reducing the effects of mold toxicity. It focuses on reducing the intake of foods that encourage mold growth or contain mycotoxins – the harmful substances produced by molds. By adopting this diet, you can potentially alleviate symptoms and begin your detox journey.

Research has shown that certain mycotoxins, such as aflatoxins and ochratoxin A, can pose significant health risks when ingested over time. These toxins can accumulate in the body and contribute to inflammation, immune system dysregulation, and other health issues. By minimizing exposure to these mycotoxins through dietary choices, you can support your body’s natural detoxification processes.

Mindful Eating: What to Avoid, Consume in Moderation, and Enjoy Freely

When I begin my patients on the low mold diet, I ask them to be mindful of their food choices. There are clear groups of foods to avoid, consume in small quantities, and ones that you can enjoy without worry.

Foods to avoid completely:

  • Sugar in all its forms and sugar-containing foods. This includes fructose, lactose, maltose, glucose, mannitol, and sorbitol. Also on this list are honey, maple syrup, and molasses. Thinking about those enticing cookies and baked snacks? Yep, avoid those as well when you are on your mold detox program.
  • Fruits high in sugar such as pineapples, mangoes, bananas, melons, oranges, and grapes should be avoided. You can opt for organic berries, apples, lemons, or limes.
  • Pre-packaged and processed food that includes everything that is canned, boxed, tinned, and bottled is off-limits. Stay away from breakfast cereals, condiments, drinks, baked beans, soups, and frozen foods while you’re on the low mold diet.
  • Mold or Yeast Containing Foods and Drinks are a significant category of red flag foods when you are detoxing. Cut out all dairy and cheeses; especially ones with molds like stilton or blue cheese. Beer, wine gin, rum or any other alcohol also needs to be always avoided.

Also on the avoid list are:

  • Condiments such as pickles, soy sauce, mayo, relishes, mustard, and vinegary sauces.
  • Edible fungi such as mushrooms and truffles.
  • All processed and smoked meats like sausages, salami, pastrami, ham, etc
  • Packaged drinks such as fruit juices and soda
  • Dried fruits such as raisins, apricots, figs, prunes, dates, among others.

Foods allowed in moderation:

  • Gluten-free grains such as buckwheat, millet, brown rice, teff, quinoa, and certified gluten-free oats.
  • High starch vegetables and legumes like sweet corn, potatoes, beans, peas, lentils, sweet potatoes, squashes, turnips, parsnips
  • Low-sugar fruits like pears, peaches, berries, and apples

Foods to be enjoyed freely:

  • Get your healthy protein intake from organic pastured animal products that include beef, bison, veal, lamb, buffalo, wild-caught seafood, poultry, and eggs
  • Enjoy low-carb veggies such as broccoli, spinach, cauliflower, kale, cabbage, arugula, chard, cucumber, peppers, fresh tomato, onion, leeks, asparagus, garlic, and artichokes
  • Snack on sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, chia seeds, almonds, and low mold nuts (No peanuts, walnuts, pecans, cashews, brazil nuts)
  • Indulge in some healthy fats with extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, coconut milk, ghee, avocado, and organic butter
  • Make sure to sip on filtered water, non-fruity herbal teas, mineral water, and fresh veggie juices
  • Foods such as tempeh, miso, apple cider vinegar are okay to indulge in

Lifestyle Changes to Minimize Mold Exposure

While adopting a low mold diet is a pivotal step, healing from mold sickness encompasses more than just food. Consider the environment you live in – ensure proper ventilation to reduce humidity levels and the risk of mold growth. Address any water leaks promptly and effectively to prevent the formation of mold colonies. Regularly clean and dust your living spaces using HEPA filters to trap mold spores effectively.

Embracing the low mold diet and making informed lifestyle changes can lead to a transformative shift in your well-being. By working with a Houston functional medicine doctor like myself, you can gain insights into how mold toxicity might be affecting your health. Remember, your journey to wellness starts with understanding the impact of mold toxicity and taking proactive steps towards reclaiming your health.

September 1, 2023

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