Aflatoxins in all nuts & seeds
It would be great if Dr Greger could post an update about the prevalence and potential risks of Aflatoxins (wikipedia) in nuts & seeds.
There is a little discussion in the comments below this old video from 2010 - Is Peanut Butter Good for You?
And this is rather worrying: ScienceDaily (2017): Sunflower seeds traced as source of toxic mold, potent liver carcinogen - and - full paper.
Chronic exposure to aflatoxin causes an estimated 25,000-155,000 deaths worldwide each year, from corn and peanuts alone. Since it is one of the most potent liver carcinogens known, the research to detect and limit its presence in sunflower seeds and their products could help save lives and reduce liver disease in areas where sunflowers and their byproducts are consumed
I fully agree! It's found in nuts, legumes, and whole grains, which is problematic because that's entirely what we are encouraged to eat. He did a video talking about how Chlorophyll from rich green leafy vegetables can bind to aflatoxins and decrease their bioavailability, but it would be good to hear a little more about that.
@jameslaymusic ... good news! Dr G recently hosted a webinar on this very topic ! Hopefully it will make the free video section in the upcoming weeks.
Mycotoxins—fungal toxins found in moldy food—are one of the few dietary contaminants suspected to have a higher presence in plant-based diets, though in some population studies 100% of blood samples turn up positive.
Are there some foods we should try to avoid to decrease our exposure, such as oat-based breakfast cereals for ochratoxin or dried figs for aflatoxin?
Dr. Greger took a deep dive into everything you ever wanted to know about mycotoxins but were afraid to ask in this 1-hour webinar and live Q&A.
What Are Mycotoxins? > Mycotoxins are compounds naturally produced by molds and other fungi. The reason for their production is unknown, but it’s possible these toxins could serve as a natural defense mechanism against pathogens. 400+ different mycotoxins have been identified.
Where Are Mycotoxins Found? > Mycotoxin contamination affects 25% of global crops - before harvest, or improper handling, processing, storage. Processing/cooking does not reduce/eliminate mycotoxins, so they may be present in both raw and prepared foods.
- Apples, dried fruit,
- Corn, oats, barley, rye, wheat,
- Peanuts, almonds, walnuts,
- Spices, red chili, black pepper, ground ginger.
Can Mycotoxins Make You Sick? > WHO states: mycotoxins in contaminated food can cause “adverse health effects” in both humans and animals, including:
- Immune deficiency, liver, kidney, and/or spleen damage,
- Nausea, gastrointestinal disturbance,
- Hormonal imbalances, Neurological problems,
- Blood infections, Skin diseases, DNA damage, Cancer.
What are the symptoms of mycotoxin exposure? > Symptoms may appear quickly (acute exposure) or develop over time (chronic low-dose ingestion). People with compromised immune systems are the most susceptible. Overall gut health could play a role in illness development and severity.
How to Reduce Mycotoxin Exposure?
- Store grains, nuts, and seeds in cool/dry conditions.
- Immediately cook dry goods that become wet for any reason. Dispose of water-damaged dry goods.
- Inspect food for mold at the time of purchase and during storage. Throw away any food with visible signs of mold.
- Eat a variety of different foods.
- Purchase small amounts of foods; avoid purchasing old grains, nuts, and seeds.
- Regularly clean the fridge; run a dehumidifier and install venting fans
Good news! Dr Greger's 4-part series on MYCOTOXINS has started on NutritionFacts.
Ochratoxin in Breakfast Cereals - One of the few food contaminants found at higher levels in those eating plant-based diets are mycotoxins, fungal toxins in moldy food ingredients, such as oats.
Coming later in Oct-Nov 2021:
- Ochratoxin in Certain Herbs, Spices, and Wine
- Should We Be Concerned About the Effects of Ochratoxin?
- Should We Be Concerned About Aflatoxin?
Also informative: WHO: What are mycotoxins? - Mycotoxins are toxic compounds that are naturally produced by certain types of moulds (fungi). Moulds that can produce mycotoxins grow on numerous foodstuffs such as cereals, dried fruits, nuts and spices. Mould growth can occur either before harvest or after harvest, during storage, on/in the food itself often under warm, damp and humid conditions. Most mycotoxins are chemically stable and survive food processing.
Several hundred different mycotoxins have been identified, but the most commonly observed mycotoxins that present a concern to human health and livestock include aflatoxins, ochratoxin A, patulin, fumonisins, zearalenone and nivalenol/deoxynivalenol. Mycotoxins appear in the food chain as a result of mould infection of crops both before and after harvest. Exposure to mycotoxins can happen either directly by eating infected food or indirectly from animals that are fed contaminated feed, in particular from milk.