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What are mycotoxins and how do they affect your health

Photo credit – naomivantol via Flickr

A mycotoxin is a toxic (ie. poisonous) chemical product produced by fungus. Fungus is a natural living substance that performs an important function in Nature by consuming usually dead organic matter and turning it back into the basic elements and soil. It is believed that fungi produce mycotoxins in order to weaken the surrounding cells that they are about to attack, making it easier for the fungi to spread and proliferate.

While fungi may play an important role in Nature by consuming dead or diseased cells, the danger to humans is that a lot of them are not only turning dead leaves into soil, but they also are infecting the foods that we eat and our homes. When moisture conditions are right, and there is the availability of organic matter and oxygen (most fungus species are aerobic and depend upon oxygen), the spores given off by fungi can spread and infect you, your food supply and your home.

Fungi were given a major boost in their growth and proliferation about 10,000 years ago when Man changed to living in a more agricultural society, depending more on cultivating farms (grains and cereals) and less upon hunting and gathering. Unfortunately this availability of grains and grain storage resulted in the growth of fungi and the resultant release of their mycotoxins into our foods.  No all mycotoxins are dangerous. However, the danger depends upon the animal (or person) infected, and their ability to defend against infection.  One of the most dangerous groups of mycotoxins is called aflatoxins, which can be found in commodities such as cotton, corn, nuts, (peanuts and pistachios) and various spices.

Aflotoxins are most commonly produced by a species of fungus called Aspergillis, which can also produce other types of dangerous mycotoxins. Aflotoxins are particularly dangerous to humans and animals because they can be carcinogenic, especially to the liver.  Aspergillis can also be found in various other foods including beer and wine.  One of the reasons that it is so commonly found in corn is because of storage in silos.  During the hottest months, silos heat up, moisture from the corn evaporates but has no good way to vent from the silos and therefore forms drops of water inside the silos. The moistened surface of the corn exposed to the droplets forms an ideal medium for Aspergillis to grow and spread.

Buildings are also very susceptible to fungus growth.  People living and working in moldy buildings are very susceptible to fungal infection and the resulting poisons from the release of mycotoxins.  Stachybotrys (black mold) and Aspergillis are two of the most dangerous fungi infecting buildings because of the higher concentrations of dangerous mycotoxins that they produce. Typically buildings and homes that have had water damage and then had little remediation are incubators of toxic mold. The more modern designs of buildings with windows that do not open, an insufficient air circulation system and moisture reduction are the most susceptible.

The concentration of the mold and their resulting mycotoxins, your length of exposure and your age, health and resistance can determine how badly you may react.  Typically long-term exposure can result in chronic skin and or lung problems. You may feel like you have an allergy, cough, or cold that will not go away. You may have an inability to be able to clear your lungs. Long term, the mold and their mycotoxins can further damage your immune system, making you more susceptible to other diseases not directly caused by the mycotoxins.

Some methods to deal with mold and fungal infection include reducing your consumption of carbs, sugars and alcohol. You don’t want to feed the fungus while trying to fight it. If you are working or living in a toxic building, and if remediation of the structure and complete removal of the mold is not performed, you will have to abandon that structure.  In other words — get out and stay out of it.  In some cases depending upon the severity of the infection and reaction, you may need to seek medical help and get on an antifungal drug such as Nystatin or Diflucan. There are plenty of others.  Make sure that tyou are not prescribed antibiotics for a fungal infection because these can further exacerbate the problem or create a brand new fungal infection.  Long term antibiotic use will provoke the growth of fungus in your body. (ie. Many women that have been on antibiotics may notice that they almost always get a secondary yeast infection.)

There are some natural solutions that do not require prescription meds.  Seagate cannot list our own natural antifungals in this article because it would constitute a medical claim violation. However a good start for understanding this problem is to begin reading Doug Kaufmann’s series of books on this topic, beginning with The Fungus Link and going on his Phase I Diet.

Of the various Seagate products, we can recommend the Olive Vaginal Spray for helping with your female vaginal irritations, Olive Leaf Nasal Spray for nasal and sinus irritations, and Olive Leaf Extract as a good dietary supplement support.  Product Image

Getting rid of a fungal infection can take a long time (sometimes more than a year) and a commitment to a change in lifestyle — eating, where you are living and even working. Or you could just put on your tank, grab a camera (preferably waterproof to 150 ft.) and go looking for Eagle Rays and worry about your mold problem later.

Eagle Ray near Belize

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