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If you’re suffering from the symptoms of mold illness, it’s time to take control of your health. By eliminating those foods that are most often contaminated with mold and replacing them with healthy, nutritious meals that promote a strong immune system, you can rid yourself of the brain fog, fatigue, and body pain that’s been plaguing you.
Learn more about mold toxicity and how it affects you below, and then check out our easy mold detox recipes. They’re a great foundation for a mold-free meal plan and prove that healthy eating doesn’t have to be hard or boring.
Mold Exposure — How Does It Happen?
You are constantly exposed to mold. While you may be familiar with the especially dangerous toxic kind that develops in water-damaged buildings and other areas of high humidity, the truth is that mold truly is everywhere: It’s on the surfaces you touch, in the air you breathe, and even in the food you eat.
What’s worse is that you may think you’re being careful about limiting your exposure to it, but it can still sneak into your body through your diet. That’s because food doesn’t have to appear moldy to contain spores that will later make you sick.
This means that even if you think you’re doing a good job of keeping mold out by maintain a clean home, you may still be inadvertently inviting it right inside every time you return from the grocery store.
What is Mold Toxicity?
Believe it or not, mold on its own isn’t toxic. If it was, humans wouldn’t be able to enjoy blue cheese, beer, or mushrooms.
Mold toxicity occurs when you’re exposed to mycotoxins, a byproduct of opportunistic mold — better known as toxic mold.
When levels of mycotoxins increase in your body, you’ll experience the symptoms of mold illness. These symptoms come about due to the mycotoxins suppressing your immune system and causing an inflammatory response throughout your body.
Many people can suffer with these symptoms for years because they often attribute them to other conditions.
Symptoms of Mold Illness
Take a look at the following list of symptoms and think about how many you’ve endured in the last year:
- Abdominal pain
- Brain fog
- Joint pain
- Shortness of breath
On their own, you can attribute any of these symptoms to a wide range of conditions. Even together, they could be the result of a cold, dehydration, or lack of sleep.
These are some of the most common symptoms of mold toxicity, and as you can see, there’s not a single one that’s unique to this illness.
For this reason, many people tend to overlook mold illness. They either think their symptoms are caused by something else or try to live with the discomfort because they have no idea what’s making them feel bad.
Improving the Immune System and Gut Health with Food
If your mold exposure and subsequent mold illness is a result of your diet, there are changes that you can make today that will immediately start supporting your immune system and lead you to a healthier tomorrow.
The mold detox diet is designed to eliminate those foods that are known to be carriers of mold toxins. When you stop eating these foods, you’ll reduce your body’s toxic burden. In as little as two weeks, your immune system will grow strong enough to combat the mold toxicity, and you’ll see your bothersome symptoms begin to fade away.
After the cleansing phase (which you may extend to several weeks, if necessary), you’ll slowly reintroduce potentially triggering foods to see if you experience side effects. If you do, you’ll ban that food. If you don’t, you may add it back to your shopping list.
Now that you know how the diet works, let’s look at those foods you should avoid and those that will help you feel better.
Worst Foods for Toxic Mold Exposure
The following are foods and food groups that are most often contaminated with mold or known to fuel it. When undergoing a mold detox, these are the foods you should cut from your diet to reduce your toxic burden so you can heal.
When it comes to fighting a mold allergy, sugar is not on your side. That’s because it’s mold’s favorite food — it’s easy to consume and digest for fast energy.
Sweets like candy, cookies, and soda may be the first things you think of when it comes to sugar, but the reality is that sugar is hiding in a lot of common foods. Also remember that your body converts carbs into sugar, so foods that are high in carbohydrates are also high in sugar.
For this reason, it’s important to check product labels to confirm what you’re putting in your body. Or better yet, skip items with product labels from the start!
If you’ve followed any kind of diet in the past, you know that like sugar, processed foods are always among the first to go. That’s because as convenient as they may be, they’re typically incredibly unhealthy.
Check the nutritional labels of many processed foods, you’ll find that they all tend to have one thing in common: tons of sugar! And as you’ve learned, sugar is a no-go on a mold detox diet.
Grains and Nuts
Due to the way they’re stored, in hot, moist silos with little airflow, grains and nuts are highly susceptible to developing mold. As they are a possible source of mold exposure, you shouldn’t consume them while on a mold detox diet.
At the same, you should also avoid foods that are made using these products, like peanut butter and even beer, as well as those that come from animals that have consumed these products. Chickens, cows, and pigs that are fed a grain-based diet may have been contaminated, so you should not eat them.
Fungi and Yeast
Mold is part of the fungus family, so you should also eliminate other fungi and organisms within that kingdom, like yeast, to minimize your mold exposure.
Foods that fall into this category include mushrooms, truffles, moldy cheese, bread, alcoholic beverages, and fermented foods products like buttermilk and yogurt.
Best Foods for Combating Mold Toxins
Now that you know what kinds of foods are most likely to hurt your immune system due to the presence of mold, lets look at those items that will truly nourish your body as your heal.
Non-starchy vegetables have less sugar than their starchy counterparts, so they contain less “food” for mold to consume.
When practicing a mold detox diet, make sure to eat plenty of dark leafy greens like spinach and kale, as well as broccoli, cucumbers, peppers, and watercress.
All fruits contain sugar, but incorporating low-sugar varieties into your diet will provide you with lots of vitamins and nutrition, all while starving mold.
Some of the best choices are avocados, lemons, limes, oranges, and strawberries.
If chronic fatigue is one of the mold illness symptoms from which you suffer, a diet rich in healthy fats can give you the energy you need to get through the day.
Good examples of fats you can eat while detoxing include chia seeds, coconut milk, coconut oil, flax seeds, ghee, and virgin olive oil.
Pasture-Fed Animal Products
As noted above, animals that are fed a grain diet could be infected with mold spores, meaning you’ll consume them yourself when you eat products made from this livestock.
To avoid contamination while undergoing a mold detox, only consume wild-caught or pasture-fed livestock, including chicken, beef, pork, and fish. When choosing eggs, make sure the product label indicates that they come from pasture-raised poultry.
You’ve probably heard of probiotics, those pills you take to increase the number of good bacteria in your gut.
What you may not be familiar with is prebiotics, which are foods that feed good bacteria and promote a healthy gut microbiome.
Excellent prebiotics that will help you during a mold detox include coconut, garlic, and onions.
10 Simple Recipes for a Mold Detox Diet
The recipes below are a just a few examples of the many delicious meals you can prepare while on a mold detox diet. As you’ll see, eating to reduce your toxic burden and reduce brain fog, body aches, and more doesn’t have to be hard, time-consuming, or boring.
1. Tangy Salmon
- 1.5 lbs wild-caught, skin-on salmon
- 2 lemons
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 3 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- Salt and pepper to your liking
- Heat the stove to 375°F.
- With the skin side facing down, arrange the salmon on a baking dish or sheet pan.
- Squeeze the juice from one lemon over the salmon, and then season to your liking with salt and pepper.
- Combine the olive oil, garlic, and apple cider vinegar in a small bowl. Add salt and pepper to your liking.
- Spoon the oil sauce over your salmon, and then bake uncovered for 15 minutes.
- Remove the salmon from the oven, and use a spoon to baste the fish with the oil from the bottom of the pan.
- Return the salmon to the oven, and bake another 10 to 20 minutes until it’s cooked to your liking.
- Remove the salmon from the oven, and transfer it to a serving platter.
- Using a spoon, break up the salmon slightly, and then squeeze the juice from one half of a lemon over the fish.
- Finish the dish by drizzling the remaining oil mixture from the pan over your salmon. Cut the remaining lemon half into wedges to serve alongside your meal.
2. Avocado-Lime Salad Dressing
- 1 large, whole avocado
- 1/2 cup coconut milk
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 4 tablespoon olive oil
- 1.5 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- Peel the avocado and place it in a food processor or mixer. Blend it until it’s completely smooth
- Add the coconut milk, and blend again until the mixture is smooth.
- Add the apple cider vinegar, lime juice, olive oil, minced garlic, salt, and pepper, and blend again until smooth.
- If you prefer a thicker dressing, you can add another 1/2 avocado or use coconut cream in place of coconut milk.
3. Anytime Smoothie
- 2 cups almond or coconut milk
- 1 cup spinach
- 5 strawberries
- 1/2 avocado
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon chia seeds
- green leaf stevia (optional)
- Add all ingredients except green leaf stevia to a blender, and blend until smooth.
- Taste the smoothie. If you prefer it sweeter, add a small amount of green leaf stevia to your liking.
4. Easy Cajun Chicken and Cabbage
- 2 lbs chicken breast
- 1 large red cabbage
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons of Cajun seasoning (or 2 tablespoons Old Bay seasoning for less heat)
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- Prepare a baking dish by spraying it with non-stick spray or lining it with parchment paper.
- Arrange the chicken breast on one half of the baking dish.
- Cut the cabbage into 1/2-inch thick slices, and arrange on the other half of the baking dish.
- Drizzle olive oil over both the chicken and the cabbage, and then sprinkle with Cajun or Old Bay seasoning.
- Bake for 30 minutes or until the chicken’s internal temperature reaches 165°F.
- Remove from oven, and serve immediately.
5. Chicken Soup
- 8 cups of water
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 2.5 lbs pasture-fed chicken breast
- 2 tablespoons fresh basil
- 2 tablespoons fresh oregano
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley
- 1 cup red pepper
- 1 cup celery
- 1 cup broccoli
- 2 green or yellow zucchinis
- Add water, garlic, salt, and chicken breast to stockpot, and cook on medium heat for one hour or until the chicken easily pulls apart.
- Remove chicken breast from the stockpot, pull apart, and add back to the pot.
- Mince basil, oregano, and parsley, and add to the stockpot.
- Dice red pepper, celery, and broccoli, and add to the stockpot.
- Continue cooking the soup on medium heat for 30 minutes, and then add diced zucchini.
- Cook for another 15 minutes, remove from heat and serve.
6. Island Pork Chops
- 6 pasture-fed, boneless pork chops
- 2 cups finely diced onion
- 1 tablespoon finely diced red pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon ground clove
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
- 3 tablespoons finely diced garlic
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- Combine onion, red pepper, clove, salt, thyme, garlic, and lemon juice in a bowl, and mix well.
- Prepare pork chops by cutting slashes into the meat.
- Spoon marinade over a pork chop, making sure to add some to the slashes you’ve made. After marinating, place in a plastic zip-top bag or bowl.
- Repeat with all pork chops, and pour remaining marinade over pork chops.
- Refrigerate for at least one hour. For a stronger flavor, marinate at least 4 hours or overnight.
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Transfer pork chops to a baking sheet, and pour remaining marinade over the pork chops.
- Bake uncovered for 15 minutes or until the pork chop’s internal temperature reaches 150°F.
7. Lime-Garlic Shrimp
- 2 pounds of wild-caught shrimp (peeled and deveined)
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 cup minced scallion
- 4 tablespoons minced garlic
- 1/4 cup lime juice
- 1/4 cup chopped parsley
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Using a paper towel, pat shrimp until dry and set aside.
- Add olive oil, scallions, and garlic to a large saute pan.
- Over medium heat, saute the mix until the scallions are bright green.
- Add the lime juice and shrimp, and continue sauteing until the shrimp turn light pink.
- Add the black pepper and parsley, stir, and serve.
8. Peppered Roast
- 2 lbs sirloin tip roast
- 3 teaspoons black pepper
- 2 teaspoons salt
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Rub both sides of the sirloin tip roast with salt and pepper until evenly coated.
- Place the roast in a roasting pan, and cook uncovered for 30 minutes or until the roast’s internal temperature reaches 150°F.
- Remove roast from oven and cover with tented foil for 15 minutes before slicing.
9. Crispy Eggplant
- 1 eggplant
- 2 tablespoons almond flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 3 tablespoons water
- 2 eggs (pasture-raised)
- Ghee or olive oil for frying
- Slice eggplant into 1-inch-thick slices, and set aside.
- Mix almond flour, baking powder, water, and eggs by hand until thoroughly blended.
- Heat some ghee or olive oil over medium to heat to prepare for frying.
- Dredge one eggplant slice through the batter, and carefully place in the oiled pan.
- When one side has browned, flip the eggplant to brown the other side.
- When evenly browned, remove from pan.
- Repeat frying with each eggplant slice, adding more ghee or olive oil when needed.
10. Simple Broccoli Stir-Fry
- 4 cups chopped broccoli
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 3 tablespoons minced ginger
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Steam the chopped broccoli until it’s tender, and set aside.
- Using a large skillet, heat oil.
- Add ginger and garlic, sauteing until garlic is fragrant.
- Add salt and water, and stir thoroughly.
- Add broccoli, and then stir well until the broccoli is coated and heated through.
Tips for Succeeding on a Mold Detox Diet
While designed to clear your system of mold mycotoxins and relieve the symptoms of mold illness, the mold detox diet is still a diet — meaning you may face the same kinds of issues as you would with any other kind of diet, such as food cravings, withdrawals, and lack of motivation.
Diets aren’t always easy to stick with, but following the tips below can help keep you on track so you can get back to optimal health.
Clear Your Pantry for a New Beginning
No matter the diet, you’ll always find it hard to stick with if you’re constantly face-to-face with foods you aren’t supposed to eat. Rather than torture yourself every time you open the fridge or pantry, get rid of those foods that may contribute to mold exposure and mold illness.
If you don’t want to throw away food, give it to friends or donate it to a food bank. Another option is to slowly replace bad foods with good ones when you go shopping. For example, instead of buying a new bag of wheat flour when you run out, reach for almond or coconut flour instead.
Shop Frequently (and with a List!)
It’s a frightening reality that mold is everywhere. Even if you pick the right foods, you might find yourself facing mold exposure if that food was contaminated at some point before it got to you. This can be especially true of fruits and veggies.
However, remember that it’s not the mold itself that is the problem. It’s the toxic mold mycotoxins that it sheds that cause illness. As it takes time for these mold mycotoxins to appear, you can reduce your exposure by sticking with the freshest foods you can get your hands on.
This means heading to the store (or even better, the farmer’s market) every few days to replenish your pantry and never letting fresh produce sit around for too long.
While you’re at it, start using a shopping list when you head out. It’s a great way to stay organized and ensure you only bring home those foods you need, which means less temptation and less waste.
Seek Out Healthy Alternatives
Everyone has foods that they think they can’t live without. For some, it’s starchy carbs like bread and pasta; for others, it may be sweets like candy and soda.
As with any diet, your chances of success on a mold detox diet all depend on how willing you are to follow it. If you feel deprived, you may not have the motivation to continue.
One way to tame cravings and achieve satiety is find alternatives to those foods you like most. For example, if you love mashed potatoes, you can try a faux mashed potatoes recipe using cauliflower, olive oil or vegan butter, and garlic. In place of bread, you can try a keto-friendly cloud bread that’s made from egg and coconut cream.
Stick with Quick, Simple Recipes
Diets can be overwhelming, especially if you’re now eating lots of foods that weren’t previously part of your cooking repertoire. To keep from reaching for unhealthy convenience foods, look for simple recipes that won’t take too long to prepare.
When choosing recipes and preparing a meal plan, first try those that use foods with which you’re familiar; the last thing you want to do when you’re hungry is experiment. As you settle into the diet, you can explore more complex recipes and try foods you’ve never had before.
Cutting out foods that may contain mold is one of the best and most direct ways to improve immune function and eliminate the symptoms of mold illness. But just because you’re following a diet doesn’t mean that you’ll be relegated to boring, flavorless food. The recipes above prove that you can eat good while doing your body good.